After almost a year's worth of work, our AP Studio Art and AP Photography students unveil their exhibit, opening on Friday, May 22 at 9:15pm in the Cornelius Ayer Wood gallery. According to Head of the Visual Arts Stacey McCarthy, "Contemporary art has many functions – it can delight and inspire, but it can also challenge us to take a deeper look at our society and ourselves. The art in this exhibit is exciting, complex, and personal." Read the artists' statements below.
2015 AP STUDIO ART STUDENTS
In my art I interpret and portray particular scenes that challenge the viewer to look at them differently. My reliance on observational skills and my use of contrived compositions, irregular perspective, contrasting lines and colors, and expressive marks allows me to capture transient moments of life and evoke a sense of ephemerality or alienation. While I mainly focus on still life scenes of inanimate objects, I also render scenes that involve landscape or portraiture in a way that stretches the boundaries of direct representation and tests existing barriers of experience and association that a viewer might hold.
My work examines the energy and complexities within urban environments. In a series of large-scale charcoal drawings, I employ different expressive drawing techniques to convey the rapid pace, constant movement, and architectural diversity within cities. I am especially influenced by artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Julie Mehretu, and Enoc Perez. Both the juxtaposition and repetition of harsh and soft marks are important elements in my work. As I became more gestural with my lines, I started to notice that my process, and the lines themselves, reflected the energy within cities, and the energy within cities reflected my process. With this in mind, I began to play with perspective, challenging myself to take on different vantage points. For instance, how does the energy of the image change given the shift between a tightly cropped or aerial perspective? Ultimately, I have realized that my work is very much a reflection of myself. My experience of living in a city for eighteen years has given me insight into this environment that I strive to capture through my evolving process.
In my portraits, I control lighting and setting in order to investigate facial expression and body language. So much can be said about human identity and personality through the subtlety of these expressions. Although many of the emotions I depict are similar throughout my work, there is an underlying ambiguity to each piece, for no one knows the full story behind each portrait. Just like in life, the exterior reveals only a fraction of one's inner self. To contrast the exactness of portraiture, I also explore the freeness of nature, such as waves. Waves can take on many different forms, from calm to graceful to violent. Using expressive and gestural marks I hope to portray the power and uncontrollable aspects of nature, especially the ocean.
My art explores the relationship between nature and artificial patterns. I try to depict nature from a less commonly viewed perspective and incorporate patterns and designs into everyday work and life. In addition, I use patterns to bring my subjects to life. I use mark making and composition to express the complexities of the natural versus the man-made world. I believe that everything contains more meaning than what lies on the outside. In an earlier piece, I drew a girl sitting against a fence with her head in between her knees, lonely, desolate, and miserable. Her clothes and body are composed of multitudes of patterns and designs. However, the background is a loosely painted brightly colored sunset lawn made with gouache. The shadow the girl makes with the ground, however, is filled with patterns and designs, representing how she is unable to escape her current state. The patterns set her apart from the rest of the world. In my more recent work, my patterns and textures depict nature in a more rigid and abstract fashion, for example the sliced birch tree piece. From top to bottom, the tree is rearranged in a way that it is no longer one coherent object. Instead of just an ordinary painting of a birch tree, this piece allows the reader to use his/her imagination to picture the tree in a way that they want to, depicting the complexities and idiosyncrasies of nature.
My art explores the relationship between heritage, identity, and spirituality. I focus on old family photographs that capture the essence of my family’s life during a period in time. Through the selection process and intense time I spend drawing, I am learning about my history and, as a result, establishing a more comprehensive view of myself and my experience. I hope to emphasize the value of one’s roots and urge the viewers to find perspective on themselves and on their histories.
In my work, inspired by ideals of female sexuality and influenced by a penchant for the theatrical, I explore the expression of emotion in portraiture, and how context, composition, color, and mark making can affect perceptions of these expressions. In each work, I aim to evoke a sentiment between two people, or between the subject and the viewer, by enhancing theatrical elements of the subjects and settings of my paintings. Lighting creates a deliberate atmosphere that defines the scene, and often my mark making echoes or implies the emotion of the subject.
My concentration has evolved since its inception. I began by exploring the definition of home. Then, I began to consider what home and habitat means, emotionally and physically. Ultimately, the painting process led me to became interested in the architecture and construction behind one’s home. I use the gouache paint, building up transparent and opaque layers, to reference the building of a foundation of a home. I manipulate color, the oversaturated palette of the farm homes juxtaposed by the monochromatic palette of the impoverished Vietnamese landscape, examines the emotion connected to each site. Furthermore, I am interested in the debate of form v. function and whether the aesthetics of a home matter more than its use. The work that goes into constructing a home intrigues me and when I paint, I build my line just as a bird builds his nest. Ultimately, I have explored not only the architecture of a dwelling, but also the meaning and feeling behind it.
Through my art I investigate the individual in society. I try to find a deeper truth about existence in the organized world beyond how we idly accept it. How do established life goals manipulate our aspirations as humans and distort our character? Do we lose something about ourselves from pressure to live in the world as it is today? My art is not about a statement, but rather posing a question in the hopes of provoking thought towards ideas beyond what we accept.
I am fascinated by the dichotomy between "perfection" and "imperfection.” Inspired by Jenny Saville and Kathe Kollwitz, my concentration explores the psychological aspects of portraiture and how a perfect image can be easily disrupted. In my work, I abstract the ideal and question whether my subjects are perfect at all. In relation to the individual’s body language or facial expression, I try to project hidden sentiments through compositional choices and arrangement of the final piece.
I wanted to consider how society’s fixation on the standards of superficial beauty is instilled in our brains at the earliest developmental stage. My work is a paradox of manipulating the aesthetic of the surface in order to provoke the desire to look beyond it.
2015 AP PHOTOGRAPHY STUDENTS
My concentration is a series of subjective impressions regarding the life of Vietnamese immigrants in Dorchester, MA. As a Vietnamese native studying in the US, I am interested in capturing quirky juxtapositions from everyday life, evoking a sense of the peculiar qualities of a community that has transplanted itself from an Eastern agricultural society to a Western post-industrial country. Through off-kilter composition and unconventional timing, I sought to create images that contrast disparate elements in a scene, thereby revealing a sense of irony about the subject matter. These images constitute part of my conception of Vietnamese life in America, which, in my experience, is filled with cultural incongruities and unintentionally humorous situations.
I have always been fascinated by the impressive cultural diversity in the greater Boston area. One of the great pleasures of living near a major metropolitan area is the easy access to an abundant variety of unusual and unique shops and businesses. For my project, I embarked on a photographic exploration of the Boston neighborhood businesses that I love so much. Environmental portraiture seemed, to me, the most appealing way of approaching the subject and I made many trips in and around the Boston area searching for interesting business owners and shop clerks. I wanted to present my subjects in a formal, yet spontaneous light, capturing something of their individual character while simultaneously situating them in their natural environment. My first pictures were in black and white because of how it emphasizes facial expression and minimizes distracting elements. Eventually though, I became attracted to the expressive potential of color and began to explore its possibilities for portraiture. My project has brought me in contact with many fascinating and unique personalities; it has been my privilege to get to know them, however briefly, with my camera.