Meet Ms. Colby: the head honcho behind the AP Art Show


Colin McCrossan

Head Honcho; lead explorer; artist; teacher; and native of Virginia, Ms. Colby is the new AP Art teacher and is the one in charge for this year’s show, Into the Amazon.

Colin McCrossan, AP Art Show enthusiast

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Ms. Colby is the new AP Art teacher this year and comes from a background as a professional artist and art educator. She is the teacher behind the AP Art Show Into the Amazon, which is this Saturday, April, 18 at 6:00 pm in the High School Library. General admission is $5 and Student admission is $3. Refreshments and Live Performances! All proceeds go to Deforestation Prevention in the Amazon!


The AP Art show is something really unique to only Haverford, so we at The Fordian decided to get a look at the teacher who has lead the show into and through the Amazon; Ms. Colby! We asked her about the show in general, but also a little bit of who she is.


For those who don’t know, what is the AP Art Show? What is it about?

The AP Art show is a chance for AP Art students (this year 14 Juniors and Seniors) to showcase their artwork and everything they’ve been working hard on all year. It’s a really big deal! They put a lot into their own sections of the show and effectively run it.

Tell us about the theme of the show, Into the Amazon.

When the previous AP Art teacher Mr. Wangberg left earlier this year, he went to go teach Art in the Amazon Rainforest, so this theme was about saying goodbye to him as he was a dedicated teacher for so many years at Haverford, but also about traveling into something new. The metaphor of the Jungle, or Rainforest, is really representative of student’s visions about their art as everyone takes their own path through the “Jungle” of this really difficult class. Everyone in the class also has their own personal jungles as some are going away to college, or just navigate Junior Year.


Besides producing the art, how else is the show student-run?

Well, I mean, I’m in charge, but everybody has been assigned a task that is integral to the show. Some are helping out with publicity designing the posters and postcards (Junior Sofia Turco), organizing volunteers (Junior Kate Huangpu), getting the donated food. Everyone has helped to get the word out by distributing posters and telling everybody they know to come because it means obviously a lot to everyone. We’ve had students getting bands and live entertainment, labels for the art, I mean, the list goes on and on about how much behind-the-scenes work goes into it.


The show is about student artwork, but tell us about your background in art as you are new to Haverford this year.

This is my first year at Haverford, and I got here in September and transitioned into Mr. Wangberg’s role of being the AP Art teacher. I came to Philadelphia almost four years ago this summer to complete the graduate program in painting at PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Before I went to graduate school, I had done work with programs in Art Education, and substitute taught. My original plan was to return to Virginia where I’m from, but I ended up staying in Philly to teach elementary and middle school students at a charter school which was a completely different experience before coming to Haverford. I taught college-level painting and drawing classes over the summer to high-schoolers at PAFA too.


What is your personal art and style like?

I tend to work either really big or really small, but I consider myself an Abstract Painter. Things are either six feet, or no bigger than 12 inches so it’s a big difference. Usually the smaller works are almost sketches for the bigger ones. Between graduating college and my teaching before this I was definitely an artist full-time for a good three years.


Did you take AP Art in High School?

Yes! I did take the AP Art class and now that I’m teaching it, a lot of memories and things from the class are coming back to me now that I am teaching again. I kind of forgot how hard it really was, and still is!


Did your class put on a show?

Nothing like this! This is a very unique thing to Haverford not a lot of High Schools tend to do. Most High Schools have small receptions where usually only the parents come and theirs some food and the art is on the walls. We on the other hand have gotten a ton of food donated, and we’re really making it a big community thing. We have professional posters and the volume of the work putting into the show is huge! Each student probably has about 20 pieces going into the show which makes it even more unique. When I was in High School you put five pieces on the wall and got a pat on the back.


How is your experience as the coordinator of the show?
It’s been a crazy ride but I think I’ve come a long way. The thing that was the most difficult was that Mr. Wangberg had been here for over 20 years running the show, and each year the show would build on previous ones getting more elaborate. So, when I came the show was like already at such a high level. When I came in, the attitude was like, “this has to be all out”. I think that was the biggest challenge, but half of the artists in the class have been through the show and program already, and I got to talk and learn a lot from Mr. Wangberg earlier in the year. I’ve gotten so much help too from the parents, librarians, and custodial staff and can’t thank them enough for giving me advice on this journey.


Former AP Art teacher Mr. Mark Wangberg now runs the Living Shaman Museum in San Francisco as the Art and Education Director. This is a review of last year’s AP Art show, Out With A Bang!


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