A Look into AP Art History


Many students take an AP course at some point during their high school career; whether they take APs during their sophomore, junior, or senior year, these courses are an excellent way for students to challenge themselves as well as earn some college credit. An often overlooked AP course that KO offers is AP Art History, taught by Director of Teaching and Learning Heidi Hojnicki.

AP Art History is a course that is focused on studying how art has evolved throughout time. Students study 250 artworks from 250,000 B.C.E. to the present day, as well as prepare to take the AP exam in May. These 250 artworks come in many different mediums, such as painting, sculpture, and architecture. Junior Julia Sohn said she has enjoyed the variety in the content of the course. “I love art in general,” she said, “and I just love being able to view art in many kinds of lenses.”

In addition to studying how art has evolved, students also learn to analyze the 250 works in the context of the time period and art movement in which they were created. “I’m teaching them what I call the skills of the art historian,” Ms. Hojnicki explained. “There are different kinds of analysis skills, whether they’re visual analysis skills, contextual analysis skills, comparing skills, or developing argument skills.” 

Most of the works that are studied hold significance to the culture or time period in which they were created, while others have more polarizing or controversial histories, such as the statues from the Acropolis in Greece. “They’re called the Elgin Marbles, and they’re a series of statues that were removed from the Parthenon and are now in the British Museum,” Ms. Hojnicki said. “Well, Greece would like their sculptures back.” These histories help give context to the various pieces, allowing students to be able to analyze them in more depth.

In addition to this, the amount of detail that the AP exam asks of students can add immense pressure. “The most challenging part is the kind of analysis needed to succeed in the class,” Julia said. “You have to delve deep into every little detail of each art piece and need a good understanding of the historical aspect of each artwork, and this is important when viewing continuity and change between art pieces.” In addition, Julia believes that the workload of the class should be lowered and the pace of the class should be faster. “The class can definitely be time-consuming, but you don’t often feel like you are really making a dent in the 250,” she said.

Despite how challenging the course is, Ms. Hojnicki tries to ensure that it is not only productive, but also enjoyable for students. “I try to put the reins in the students’ hands,” she said. “One thing I do is that I have the students research some works and present them to each other, rather than me lecture them the whole time.” Julia’s experience in the class has been positive overall, citing the classroom environment as being particularly exciting. “Ms. Hojnicki builds a comfortable and fun classroom environment where we can all learn,” she said.

AP Art History is an excellent class that goes in-depth into the study of the history of art, while also creating a stimulating work environment for students to thrive in. It is an essential KO course for anyone interested in art or history.