Sean Lee ’22 achieves perfect score on the AP 2-D Art and Design Exam

Portrait by Sean Lee ’22


When Sean Lee ’22 took the AP 2-D Art and Design Exam this year, he walked away with a truly astounding result: a perfect score. Not only did the young artist receive the top score of 5, but he also scored the maximum amount of points on every single portion of the exam. This achievement puts Lee in elite company with only 152 students worldwide.

Lee uses painting and Photoshop artistry to create surreal and sophisticated portraits and abstract pieces that explore questions about his identity. Born in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., raised in Hong Kong and Seoul, South Korea and now receiving his education at Peddie, Lee uses his artwork to ask questions about a young life lived in many worlds. “Specifically, I tried to answer the question, ‘How has living a nomadic existence affected my perception of the world, as well as my own emotions?’” Lee wrote about his 2021 AP Studio Art showcase. “I feel like my ideas got more profound as the course progressed. The AP journey has made me think in ways I wouldn’t have thought of before the course and led me to be truly innovative with my medium.”

Visual Arts teacher Craig Dale has watched Lee’s development as an artist in the classroom, and he’s both impressed and humbled by Lee’s progress. “Sean uses art as a means to make meaning in his life. That's how cool the AP art studio is. It takes an abundance of courage to do it well. We have a sign in our room that says, ‘We don't applaud perfection, we applaud courage.’ Sean exemplifies that.”

The 2-D Art and Design Exam challenges student-artists to develop a body of work, document the development of their practice and showcase their skills in 2-D artistic processes, including graphic design, photography, collage, print-making and more. It is both a demonstration of artistic ability and a chronicle of the artist’s investigation of a personal idea that they care for deeply. Their portfolio is then evaluated by a panel of at least four experienced studio art instructors, either AP studio art teachers or higher education faculty.

“This outstanding accomplishment is likely a direct reflection of the top-quality education being offered at The Peddie School,” wrote Trevor Packer, Head of the Advanced Placement Program at College Board. “We applaud Sean's hard work and the AP teacher responsible for engaging students and enabling them to excel in a college-level course.”