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2-D Design
Iain Mahaffey​
Champlain Valley Union High School​|Hinesburg, Vermont​
Iain Mahaffey.jpg
Untitled|20 x 16 in.
Material(s): Sony A7III digital camera, natural lighting, printed with a digital printer on mat board, Lightroom.​ Process(es): I made this image in a calm environment representing my own acceptance of my place, and homecoming. ​
Curatorial Note: Poetic image and description​.
“My atmosphere. My home. My cold air. This is all I know.”​
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Listen to the student statement
The title of my featured work is “Homage.” Throughout my entire life, I have always wandered into other realms of the earth. Whether somewhere in another climate, another region, or even another mindstate; I wander. I dream. I believe this urge to wander and explore is part of the essential elements of my creative process and my art, but I have used art to escape my reality at times. That is why this piece on a sentimental level is truly important to me. I made this piece in a place that has become home for me. In a place where the air I breathe, and the landscape I devour with my eyes, have become second nature. I honestly never thought I was terribly decent at photographs of the natural world, but when I captured this image, I knew I had accomplished a goal of making something I do not fully despise. I think that is a challenge any artist has to overcome at some point. In my eyes, none of my work is to the caliber I see fit, but slowly I have grown to see the value in it. This image being part of my selected works tells a story that up until this point has been stuck in my internal monologue, but now reading this, you too know. This image is an homage to my home. The land I have grown in. And the mountains that I have learned to adore. The harsh contrast between the calmness of this photograph and my sustained investigation, which is filled with evocative human emotion, political and social commentary, and simply more than a monochrome color pallet, exemplifies its simplicity yet complicated nature. This photograph, though at face value is simple beauty, holds many stories within it, and though it is not rancid with obvious messages, sometimes simple art can truly be the most intellectually complicated.
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Iain Mahaffey​
Finally, I would like to thank my AP art teacher Abbie Bowker, and my photography teachers, Timothy Duvernoy and Emily Mclean. You each have taught me many things that I will continue to use for the rest of time. I think I would advise other AP students to beg for critique. Beg your teachers to be honest. The second you walk out of your high school doors you will be greeted by people, or professors, who will not hold back critique. The only way for any of us to grow and develop our own personal voice is to be pushed into a realm of creativity that only we individually can achieve, and I believe critique is the most productive way to reach this point. The last thing I will say is to revise, revise, revise, and please do not leave it until the last minute. I created 3-4 sustained investigations by the end of the year in different studies, but that was only possible because I revised and challenged the simplicity of my already existing work. If you keep creating, pushing, and critiquing, I promise you will be successful.

Teacher Statement

Abbie Bowker
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Coming into our program this year as a Junior transfer student, it was clear right away that Iain had a mature and well developed photographic eye. His ability to recognize formal elements in a shot and his technical skills as a photographer were consistent across multiple subjects with both digital and film.

One area that we worked with was the development of idea and the deepening understanding of idea through iterations of both work and writing. Iain’s concept for his sustained investigation deepened and shifted as he developed his statement. I believe the multiple times Iain had to articulate his concept both verbally in critiques and through written drafts of his statement made a significant impact on the outcome of his presented body of work.
Iain’s work in all aspects is concerned with the relationship between the lens, the subject(s) within the frame, and the viewer. We discussed ways to create tension or release, activity or rest, through some post-production editing, such as cropping. The work selected for this show is a good example of how cropping created energy within the stillness and established a compelling storied relationship between the sky, mountains, and water. The conversations about his work helped shape future image-making and further inform his communication about his ideas.
I loved working with Iain as I was able to learn from him, through his eyes and lens, what is important to him. It was really refreshing to have a student who cared deeply about many contemporary issues and to see them in new ways as a viewer of his work.
We have been fortunate to have a very arts supportive community, including our building principal, who has helped us create an in-school gallery space and find creative ways to renovate our arts spaces.
My advice to other AP teachers is to get students talking about their ideas, writing drafts of statements, and regularly revisit and revise as ideas naturally shift or deepen. The art making is the hard part, but at the same time, it is often the most natural part, and students need more scaffolding and support with the writing and development of ideas. If teachers are not comfortable with teaching how to write the statements, the videos at AP Central are very useful, or you could do what I did and ask a writing teacher/colleague to come in and teach alongside you.
“I made this image in a calm environment representing my own acceptance of my place, and homecoming.”​
Iain Mahaffey​