IB Spotlight: Visual Arts

IB Spotlight: Visual Arts

IB Visual Arts is put under the IB Spotlight this week, as we continue to uncover a deeper understanding of what studying an IB Diploma is like for students at AIS. IB Visual Arts looks to encourage students to challenge their own creative and cultural expectations and boundaries, and engage them to read, write, think, and question what they do as artists, showing evidence of analytical research, critical comparison and reflective investigation.

To gain a student’s perspective into what studying the subject is like, we sat down and spoke to Bui Phuong Anh, a Year 13 student at AIS. She revealed what reasons encouraged her to choose IB Visual Arts, a typical day studying the subject, as well as recommendations for aspiring Visual Arts students.

I took Visual Arts in IGCSE but didn’t intend to pursue Art in IB since I thought the programme would be similar. However, I changed my decision upon visiting the Visual Arts exhibition of the Class of 2018. I realised then that there was much more to the course than I had imagined: more academic, more investigative, and more freedom of expression.

A typical day studying Visual Arts tends to be very different from other subjects, and, in all sincerity, not one day is the same. Some days it’s about finding inspirations in established artists for your exhibition, some days it’s about pitching an idea to Mr Hall (our IB Visual Arts teacher) and seeking his comments, and some days it’s just you building and interacting with your work, your Process Portfolio, or your Comparative Study. Studying Visual Arts is unpredictable – and I’m talking about both the experience and the outcomes, but it is an enjoyable kind of unpredictability.

Personally, studying and investigating artists and materials has been some of the most intriguing aspects of the subject. I am currently working on an installation piece that is inspired by Chiharu Shiota, a Japanese performance and installation artist. She is famous for her works of vast, room-spanning webs of threads or hoses, linking abstract networks with concrete everyday objects such as keys, window frames, and suitcases. My piece takes inspiration from Shiota’s use of threads to portray the differences in traditional and contemporary perspectives of social issues, ranging from domestic abuse to cultural detachment in third culture kids. There is an exhibition fair in Bangkok, Thailand that Mr Hall planned to visit with the DP classes in 2020, but unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak put the plan on hold for the rest of the school year.

As mentioned previously, I took both IGCSE and now IB Visual Arts, and these two programmes differ immensely. The coursework I did in IGCSE was very process and investigation-focused. There was not much space available for personal expressions and social commentary, which are one of the main aspects of IB Visual Arts. The working medium and scale also expanded tremendously; our works take forms beyond the paper surface. I have learnt a lot of valuable lessons transitioning from IGCSE to IB Visual Arts, but I would strongly recommend interested students to:
1) Get a strong understanding of the subject in the summer before Year 12 because it is very different from what you have experienced in IGCSE, and
2) Visit as many exhibitions as you can. It helps a lot in the process of building your Visual Arts exhibition.

Taking IB Visual Arts is a huge stepping stone towards my dream of becoming a project manager in the creative industry. It allows me to look at the processes that take place in the planning and creation of artistic products, while the analytical skills a student acquires taking IB Visual Arts is a highly desirable trait for every university around the world.

Bui Phuong Anh

Year 13 Student at AIS

To find out more about studying IB Visual Arts at AIS, or about the IB Diploma in general, check out AIS’s complete comprehensive curriculum guide, which includes IB Programme FAQs, 10 reasons why you should study IB, and an IB Diploma Handbook: https://www.aisvietnam.com/curriculum/ib-diploma/