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Rebecca A. Stone-Danahy Director of AP Art and Design, College Board
Chief Reader
Paul Jeanes Chief Reader of AP Art and Design (2015-2020) Artist and Administrator at the School of Art Institute of Chicago
It is an honor and a privilege to witness the collective talent, originality, and hard work displayed by the students in the 2020 AP Art and Design exhibit. While all of the artists and designers in this exhibit are unique and while their works stand alone, seen together, the works seem to thematically unify around one important question, “What is it like to live in the year 2020?” or perhaps more specifically, “What is it like when your bedroom becomes your classroom, and the kitchen table becomes your art studio and the cardboard recycling becomes your art material?”

As AP Art and Design students learn (just as those of us who have been doing this for a while learned), it’s not easy making works of art and design. We have to continually practice our technical skills while considering the formal qualities of our work, including the choice and use of materials, at the same time thinking about inquiry, expression, context, and meaning; all the while trying to be as original as possible, maintaining a playful and adventurous spirit, and continually wondering how other people will interpret our work. It’s a lot. Add to those factors the experience of a global pandemic with an interrupted school year forcing isolation and classes to go online, and a turbulent and divisive socio-political environment… and making art seems next to impossible.

Against this backdrop, the artists and designers in the 2020 AP exhibit have proved that making their work is not only a possibility; it's a necessity. This dedication and perseverance is inspiring and the resulting works are both timely and timeless as a result. At first glance, there is a dazzling array of technical skills impressive in their own right. Yet, if observed more closely, one perceives a level of critical thought and social awareness that is insightful, sensitive, and deeply personal. The works collectively are edgy and thought-provoking and also dynamic, witty, colorful, and at times humorous, in the best possible way. These artists are perceiving, absorbing, and reflecting their inner worlds while being acutely attuned to the world in which we live. A diverse range of human experiences are on display - and as an artist and educator myself, I am refreshed and uplifted by this brilliant generation of young artists and designers.
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