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Aaron Artimes
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AP DRAWING
John A. Ferguson Senior High School|Miami, Florida
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Dimensions: 16” x 20”|Material(s): acrylic, coffee, colored pencils, canvas|Process(es): painting with acrylic and dripping coffee onto canvas, using colored pencils for detail.|Curatorial Note: The abstract painting is created through the concept of exploration and research of decomposition, disintegration and the breakdown of fungal growth. Color, texture, shape and form, line movement, and the use of various materials (coffee stained on canvas) create this cycle of life-inspired abstract artwork.

Student statement

I have always been captivated by death, and it was with this fascination that I chose to guide my inquiry. Death is a process indicative of the human condition and the cycle all living things traverse. However, as I developed my portfolio, I became increasingly interested in death not as an end but as a beginning. My sustained investigation, therefore, became a way to understand how death brought about life, how one creature's demise meant another's birth. Ultimately, this piece, Fruiting, is the culmination of this inquiry. In it, I illustrate bones and fruit nearby as if sprouting from a human skeleton as a reflection on how life and death are both present in each other and inseparable.
Throughout my portfolio, I studied how insects, plants, and fungi all take part in recycling matter to create something new, focusing on illustrating this interaction between the living and the dead. I tinkered with pressed and dried plants to create patterns by stamping or incorporating them into my works. It became instrumental in drawing from several mediums and materials in my chosen work to reflect the combination and splicing in death, sometimes even using my morning coffee to paint.
Ultimately, my portfolio was what it is because of my teacher's mentorship and support. He encouraged me at every step of my creative process by being a source of inspiration and, most importantly, allowing me to explore the topics and ideas discussed in my sustained investigation inquiry. Lastly, I advise any aspiring artist to find beauty in the ugly. Find it anywhere because it will present itself in the strangest places. Conversely, find the ugliness in the beautiful because this dissonance has great value to be discovered, contemplated, and illustrated.
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Sustained lnvestigation, 8” x 10”|Materials: Colored pencil, graphite|Process(es): In progress. I applied the colored pencil in layers while leaving grain to give the skin texture.
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Throughout my investigation, I studied and researched all the components compassing decomposition—including the role of decomposers and detritivores, the breakdown of the microbiome, and fungal growth. I practiced and revised, incorporating the shapes and linear forms of bacteria and microscopic spores into my line work.
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Teacher statement

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Derek Wilson
As an educator, I’ve prided myself on developing a program that utilizes research-based art projects to foster student creativity. I have successfully developed students’ ability to think independently while my instruction guides them. Students follow the structure I provide and experiment with different mark-making processes as they work towards solving the proposed visual problem. There is a fair share of trial and error as they learn to be patient and trust their decisions. I coach them through each phase, and students quickly realize they learn more from themselves and the process than from my direct instruction. The most important part of the experience in my classroom is when students take full ownership of their artistic education. That is the moment when they truly begin to make art happen.
Aaron Artimes