AP Art and Design Exhibit

Aundrea McCarthy

Nashua High School South|Nashua, New Hampshire
Dimensions: 20”x 15”|Materials: Black and White charcoal over white paper.|Process(es): I wanted to do another close-up portrait to see my progress after my first self-portrait.|Curatorial Note: The realistic charcoal portrait captures the pressure of moving from adolescence into adulthood. The range of values, texture, and expression enhances the drawing. The expression speaks to the uncertainty of a future where society, parents, and community can create a safe, supportive, successful environment for the youth.

Student statement

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Growing up too fast is challenging to come to terms with as you age. Misconceptions and misunderstandings reveal themselves, and it can become overwhelming. These are the parts of life we all try to avoid but become subjected to over time.
How does growing up too fast affect children’s adolescence into adulthood? My piece is titled “Self-preservation” and reflects on the feeling of hiding oneself from outside sources through distancing oneself. This is a learned behavior often gained from a young age because it is perceived as a “safe space.” As indicated by the position of my model, she is seen partially concealing her face with her hands as a sign of vulnerability. In addition to not facing her concerns head-on and avoiding emotional engagement, she lacks contact with the audience. This is an example of an absence of the truth and how people often stray from accepting it as it may be too hard.
Like my subject, I struggle with the overwhelming feeling we all feel growing up. Especially in that teenage years are the pivotal moments of childhood, all coming to a close as you get closer to adulthood. As someone who has felt the pressure of growing up and becoming more “mature,” I can say that it is the most stressful time in your life. It’s the beginning of your life on your own, without the comfort of your parents right next to you. Although it may seem exciting, it is all at the same time terrifying. I wanted to depict this relatable aspect in a detailed, cropped portrait to emphasize the feeling of being overwhelmed and the instinct to protect yourself from what is happening around you.
I decided to consider a closer composition in this portrait. This allowed me to emphasize the inner intensity of overwhelmness. The achromatic color scheme further enhances the textures through high-contrast details. Cropped-in compositions render the viewer a more raw affiliation with the subject as the face is more likely subjected to noticeable “imperfections” from up close. These emotions are vital in allowing the viewer to better understand the piece more intimately.
In my life, I have encountered a variety of influences and role models who have helped shape who I am now. One person who has helped me shape my artistic abilities into what they are today is my teacher, Mrs. Jones. She has helped me realize that hard work and devotion are crucial to enhancing your artistic abilities.
How does growing up too fast affect children's adolescence into adulthood?” I wanted my series of works to focus on the timeline of adolescence into adulthood as someone who has grown up too fast and how this has affected them throughout their childhood.

tEACHER statement

Maggie Jones
Aundrea's dedication to refining her skills is truly impressive. She is a dedicated learner, always eager to inquire, and deeply engrossed in her work. Aundrea's artistic expression is deeply rooted in her use of composition and symbolism, allowing her artworks to convey profound meaning and complexity.
Our approach to the AP Art and Design course revolves around the idea that art is a form of communication. We encourage students to see themselves as visual storytellers, leaving the interpretation of their work to the audience. Personally, this concept was what initially drew me to the world of art. Compelling artistry lies in conveying narratives through adept use of composition, subject matter, and symbolism. While we emphasize the technical aspects of producing visually appealing art, we underscore the significance of infusing one's work with genuine emotion and purpose, a central theme in the AP Art and Design course.
I actively promote writing integration into the artistic process to reinforce this understanding. Students are encouraged to maintain a sketchbook to document their reflections and experiences during the planning phase of their projects. Furthermore, they are urged to chronicle any modifications made during the creative process. Our critique sessions serve as collaborative forums, where students offer each other constructive feedback, fostering a sense of community within our creative space. After completing each piece, students self-reflect, analyzing the rationale behind their creative choices and considering potential alternatives for future projects. Emphasizing the value of learning from successes and setbacks, we cultivate a culture of continuous improvement and self-discovery.
I am constantly exploring opportunities to familiarize students with diverse artistic techniques and mediums, underscoring the practical applications of these skills in real-life scenarios and the potential for learning from the experiences of others. I am grateful for the unwavering support provided by our school administration, which has consistently supported the growth of our Art Department. Our school takes pride in hosting regular art shows and events, providing students with numerous platforms to showcase their work. The admiration and support from our South community serve as a driving force for our students, encouraging them to persist in their artistic pursuits.
Aundrea McCarthy