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Conner Malone

Little Rock Central High School|Little Rock, AR
Teacher: Jason McCann
College Board is pleased to showcase Conner Malone as part of the 2021 AP Art and Design Exhibit
Voluntary Femininity|16 x 18 in.
Idea(s): After a lifetime of femininity being expected of me, I want to reclaim it. Material(s): Oil paint on canvas Process(es): Aimed to create as full of a composition as possible, without it being cluttered.


Through drawing, I have found strength in fragility, and confidence in non-conformity.
Student headshot
Conner Malone
As a transgender man in Arkansas, most of my self-expression has always been funneled towards art. Painting has offered a sense of autonomy and solace. This year in AP Drawing, I studied my own relationship to gender, and how isolation has affected it.
I began medically transitioning in December of 2019, so a typically social phenomenon has been internalized completely by the pandemic. Art served as a navigational tool during a confusing and isolated time. Gender is a performance, but who is your audience when you’re alone in your room? I am transitioning, I am watching myself transition, I am painting the transition process, documenting and thus controlling how it is experienced. The porcelain figures reflect this autonomy and abstraction. Through drawing, I have found strength in fragility, and confidence in non-conformity.
The titles of the two selected paintings are Voluntary Femininity and Cherub. The former explores feminine motifs, such as the painted nails and necklace, as well as the control I have over my own expression. Cherub was painted on glass and focuses on how I’ll be seen once it’s safe to re-integrate into society. I chose glass because I prefer a smooth surface; Both pieces are in oil paint, for its vibrancy and depth.
In the past year, I’ve learned how to purposefully inject meaning into my art, in a way I’d never been able to. All of my pieces serve a purpose towards my investigation. Thankfully, the uniqueness of my situation made brainstorming easy; Executing the ideas was the only challenge. Luckily, I had fantastic help in doing so.
I moved to Little Rock Central my junior year of high school- the support I’ve received has made a world of difference. Both of my art teachers have been professional artists- their guidance has been profound. This was a difficult year for learning, but Mr. McCann’s enthusiasm and insight made drawing fun. He has helped tremendously with my portfolio, as well as applying to galleries and exhibitions. I am extremely lucky to have found Central’s art program; Mrs. Rousseau runs an incredible school.
To other AP Art and Design students: I would suggest making your portfolio as personal as possible. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability, and strive to be unique. Addressing greater societal issues is a good idea, just make sure to reflect it onto your own experiences. Have fun exploring your ideas!
Thank you sincerely to Collegeboard for featuring me in this year’s exhibition; It is a tremendous honor. I look forward to seeing my fellow artists’ pieces!
drawing of girl, figurine, jewelry, porcelain hors
Sketch | 4 x 6 in. Material(s): graphite on paper Process(es): Thumbnail sketch of following painting. Uses the rule of thirds to maximize the composition
painting details-porcelain figures
Detail image of Voluntary Femininity | NA Material(s): oil paint on canvas Process(es): Masculine and feminine motifs of the previous painting
Cherub|12 x 12 in.
Idea(s): Wondering how I will define myself post-quarantine, now that I am practically a new person Material(s): Oil paint on gessoed glass, photographed on white paper Process(es): Experimenting with the incomplete placement of gesso- the unpainted parts are also left un-gessoed.
Detail Image of Cherub|12 x 12 in.
Material(s): oil paint on gessoed glass Process(es): Illustrating the melodrama of a year spent transitioning in isolation
jason McCann
Read the transcript
Hi, my name is Jason McCann. I'm an art teacher at Little Rock Central High School. I teach AP drawing there and have for the last 18 years.
Today I'm going to talk about Conner Malone. Conner was one of my AP students this last year and he is a fantastic, exceptional young painter. He's actually kind of amazed as the last couple of years we've watched him produce artworks in acrylic and oils.
nancy Rousseau
Our school’s art program continues to shine whereby it receives the highest number of art awards in the State of Arkansas. Ironically, we are basically a liberal arts high school without an arts magnet or designation. We surpass those schools that are! Conner came to us as a junior and immediately demonstrated his exceptional talent as a young artist. We were thrilled to have him join our school family. His talent was so exemplary that he immediately joined the upper-level advanced art classes.
Mr. Jason McCann was hired by me! As I begin my 20th year as principal of historic Little Rock Central High School, I realize that Jason was the first art teacher hired under my administration. Personally, my husband and I own two of his paintings. His own talent is outstanding and he has won many local and state awards. His paintings have been exhibited in the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.
When I took over as principal of Central we had four art teachers. We now have eight and growing! Our art department is well known and respected by the local community as well as in our state, region, and nationally. We have students in prestigious art schools all over the US. In 2007 when we commemorated the 50th Anniversary of 1957, we budgeted funds for our art department to showcase their work created for this international special historical event. We were able to publish a book of our students’ and teachers’ artwork. Furthermore, we had a community showing at a local gallery. Let me know if you would like for me to send you one!
Research is clear that students who participate in the arts – choir, band, visual, and performing arts are historically our top students! Why wouldn’t a principal want to foster these programs?
Conner Malone