Smith College is filled with many bright young women pursuing art, but BSGE alum Adela Goldsmith ’15 can proudly say that she is one of the few who have earned a 7 in IB Higher Level Visual Arts – and not just any 7. Adela is the first BSGE student to receive a 7 in what many juniors and seniors believe is the most challenging IB course offered at our school.
Adela, whose work features a mix of dark imagery (run-down houses, severed hands, and tombstones) and bright, eye-catching colors, said that it was “cool” to get BSGE’s first 7, although the college credit she received for it is not stopping her from “taking a bunch of art classes anyway.” When asked about the general theme for her body of work, Adela explained that she focused on “decay (very broadly), but also how it relates to the human experience, and the relationship between the natural and the man-made.” She intends to stay involved in art through college, with a potential major in Art History and a Museums Concentration; “possibly careers in curating or museum education,” she said.
So what makes succeeding in Visual Arts HL so challenging for many students? “The research makes it difficult, I think,” Ms. Schwarz commented. “There’s a distinction between researching just any art, and really showing how the work that you are researching is influencing you in your own work. Students who demonstrate real depth in explaining those connections do very well. Also, an accurate use of the language and terminology is needed in talking about art. There are a lot of times I’ll read a student’s research page, and I can decipher it but the language isn’t clear. That makes harder for the examiner to assess the degree to which the student really knows what they are talking about.”
Ms. Schwarz, who had Adela in her class last year, was impressed by her ability to conduct thorough research as well as her own personal investment in art. “She saw a lot of art on her own,” she explained. “Adela went to museums and galleries and I think it was that exposure that gave her an upper hand in approaching the class. She definitely already had an insider perspective of the art world, since her mother is a curator.” Ms. Schwarz also stressed that Adela was open-minded in exploring different media to convey her ideas. “Her work was very clearly connected conceptually, even though stylistically, she tried out a lot of different things.”
In terms of the future grades for current BSGE students, Ms. Schwarz is optimistic. “I do see more 7s in the future. Even in the past year, I’ve noticed a very high level of work, and a dedication to developing artistic style that I haven’t seen previously. I do think that this is the beginning of a trend – not just an isolated incident.” As for current Art HL students looking to learn from her success, Adela shared a simple but important piece of advice. “Try not to save all your documenting for the last minute,” she said with a laugh. “That’s the worst thing ever.”