Heading into art schools

Photo by Matthew Goroff

Every year, hundreds of students participate in the school’s vast array of art classes. While most choose to keep art as a hobby, others decide to pursue a career in art and apply to art school.

Senior Maya Carlisle-Swedberg, who is a student in AP Studio Art, is applying to the College of Fine Arts at Boston University and wants to major in art education.

As part of her application, Carlisle-Swedberg has to assemble an extensive 15- to 20-piece portfolio with three required samples of work: portrait drawing, still-life drawing and a composition of recognizable objects, drawings or paintings.

Like Carlisle-Swedberg, student-teacher Alexia Lalande also wants to be an art teacher and is a student at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Lalande said that students applying to art school need not already know an exact concentration of study, but a general sense of what they want to pursue within the wide array of art education can be helpful to have in mind during the application process.

When Lalande was in high school, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the arts, though she didn’t know specifically what profession. Now in college, Lalande is majoring in art education and considers art school a positive experience.

“I like art school a lot,” said Lalande. “Being surrounded by people who are working on their projects all the time has been a good motivation for me as an artist.”

For students applying to art school, their portfolio is one of the most important aspects of their application. Art teacher Donna Sartanowicz helps each student in developing and assembling his or her own portfolio.

Sartanowicz explained that for students in AP art classes, a portfolio is required for the AP exam. The AP art exam is similar to other AP exams, as it is also graded by a group of teachers on a scale of one to five. Sartanowicz noted that the exam is not essential for students applying to art school, but, like other subjects, taking it can only help prospective art school students.

Sartanowicz clarified some of the common misconceptions about applying to art school.

“Most think you go just to become an artist, but the truth is we live in a very visual world, and artists are used to designing a variety of things, like the toaster you use every morning,” said Sartanowicz. “Kids still could become the traditional artist, but could also become designers, art directors or even an art teacher. Kids go into art school for many different reasons.”