Art students attend Einstein’s VAC program

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Artwork by Rachel Nanos

One of the works that junior Rachel Nanos created during her AP art class at Einstein.

The Visual Art Center program, or the VAC, is a nationally recognized magnet program, aimed at helping students create a pre-college art portfolio. Students can apply for the program in eighth grade, however, students can apply as late as junior year. The application process requires students to submit a slideshow of four to five pieces of their choice, which must feature different art mediums, such as still lifes and portraits. “For the application process you submit a portfolio of your work, an artist’s statement about one of the pieces where you describe it and your thought process, and then you have a live drawing session where you go on Zoom and draw yourself live,” junior Julianna Lindhauer said.

I’m really excited to be in a program with other students who are really focused on art and also build my portfolio to hopefully go to art school in the future.”

Most students who are in the program are from Einstein, however, junior Rachel Nanos (this writer’s sister) and students from other schools are also in attendance. Having applied in the winter of her sophomore year, Nanos was the only student from this school who was enrolled until Lindauer, who applied this year, was accepted into the program. “I’m really excited to be in a program with other students who are really focused on art and also build my portfolio to hopefully go to art school in the future,” Lindauer said.

The AP exam consists of 15 pieces of art that follow a specific concept or idea. The pieces can be small or large projects. Students have the freedom to experiment with different art styles, but their collection of works must show growth. Students’ concepts typically surround social issues or aspects of their personal life that they express in their artwork. Nanos’ concept surrounds the idea of movement, with her works reflecting that. 

Every day, students in the program use class time to work on different projects, including parts of their AP exam, as well as regular classroom projects. Students also participate in competitions and have the opportunity to do volunteer artwork. On Fridays, students work in their Sketchbook Journal (SBJ). SBJ’s, which are actual literary books that students work in, consist of small assignments. There are five SBJ assignments per quarter, totaling 100 points. 

In order to get to Albert Einstein High School where the program is based, Nanos must leave school directly after lunch, using sixth period as a travel period. Nanos is one of the few juniors who has a spot in the school parking lot, but she does not have a parking spot at Einstein. It takes Nanos about 25 minutes to travel to Einstein and about 30 to 35 minutes to travel from Einstein to her house. “A lot of the time there is traffic on the route I take to get home. It’s especially bad as I’m leaving Einstein,” Nanos said.

Nanos’s AP Art class is a double period, which means that she only has four classes at Wootton, with Art during seventh and eighth periods. She will continue the program through her senior year, with her senior schedule being similar to that of this year. “I want to major in animation, so the VAC program is a good way to build my college portfolio,” Nanos said.