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AIP Class: Art Students Thrive

May, 2018
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When 15-year-old Feng Yumeng graduated from Middle School, she found a more favorable option for her High School education.

kaiwen-art-2The newly launched Art International Project (AIP) Class at Kaiwen Academy, an international bilingual school located in eastern Beijing, attracted her attention because she loves art and wants to develop her skills. “I thought to myself: this is a place more suitable for me than a conventional High School,” she recalls.

After five months, she is contented with her decision. Apart from progress made in artistic knowledge and skills, she has got a lot of ideas about what she could do in the future, “I get a great deal of help from the teachers, and quite often I get new thoughts and aspects about the art pieces I work on.”

Feng is one of 23 students enlisted in the AIP Class, which is a collaboration between Kaiwen Academy and Art International Project (AIP). It was developed in 2005 as a foundation course tailored for students who want to apply for art majors in colleges or universities. Starting from 2013, AIP began to offer a three-year program at the Art School of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.

According to Chuck Zhou, Head of AIP Guangzhou Center who is now responsible for running the program at Kaiwen, it is designed to develop students’ knowledge and skills in art and English, which will eventually help them apply for overseas colleges and pursue their individual ambition in various artistic disciplines.

kaiwen-aip-photos2In the first two years, the students learn general knowledge about art and practice various art forms – be it space, fashion design or architecture. Then at the end of the second school year, they are divided into six groups in six fields: Fashion Design, Jewelry Design, Illustration and Animation, Graphic and Fine Art, Product Design, and Architecture and Space, each led by an expert teacher. A student may choose his or her group based on factors such as personal preference, parental advice and consultation with teachers.

The AIP program is not only designed in terms of what is taught to the students, but it helps to foster good learning habits, argues teacher Wang Yiqing, a Kingston University London graduate who is a stylist and fashion designer. She is one of the 11 teachers teaching the Kaiwen AIP Class, including an English native speaker focusing on English language teaching.

“Art is something that you can’t just easily divide into different disciplines. It is more about what you feel and perceive. What we do here, we don’t simply teach our students to learn certain art skills such as painting. Rather, we try to cultivate our students’ ability to think from multiple perspectives,” she says.

For example, the students may be asked to collect ideas for their works through a variety of means, be it shooting videos, taking photos, going to museums or asking questions to artists. This way, they will form the habit of looking at and then handling not only their works, but also all problems, in different ways.

AIP’s program has been recognized by 33 overseas colleges and universities in the UK and the US, which have entered into Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with AIP. These include renowned schools such as the University for the Creative Arts, Kingston University London, Goldsmiths University of London, California College of the Arts, San Francisco Art Institute and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Their admissions officers are often sent to interview AIP students or hold workshops so that the students know more about them.

Each semester, AIP will invite a professor from these colleges and universities as a visiting teacher, who will stay for five weeks and teach the students for two whole days each week.

“This way we can have new foreign art teachers on a regular basis to bring new insights and perspectives. We believe this can benefit our students more than always having the same foreign teachers,” Zhou explains.

Zhou is very confident that the AIP program benefits students. Last year, the 65 students graduating from the AIP Class of the Art School of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts got more than 300 offers from colleges and universities worldwide and were granted a total of over RMB 2 million in scholarship fees.


By Qin Chuan, LittleStar Magazine


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