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Glenbrook South High School|Glenview, IL
TEACHER: Stephanie Fuja
Two children inside green playground tube; feet up
Alexis and Caitlin|18 x 18 in.
Material(s): Oil paint, terpenoid, and liquin on canvas. Process(es): Took my own reference photos over summer camp. Gridded using pencil, prepped with wash, oil painted.
Stephanie Fuja
Janin Liu was one in a million when it comes to talent, intelligence, creativity, and work ethic. Over my 14 years teaching high school art and over a decade of teaching AP Art, Janin is by far one of my most talented of all time! Teaching Janin taught me more about allowing students to take more of the lead in the classroom and giving students a bit more choice. Seeing Janin advocate for herself, work through ideas herself, and manage her workload herself, allowed me to truly be the class’s guide and direction versus a micromanager who had to stay on each and every student at all times- it was beyond refreshing! For my AP Art class, I scaffold writing components into every single sustained investigation work each student turns in. They are required to submit a short artist statement per individual sustained investigation as well as five variations and drafts of their final artist statement. Supporting their ideas, skills, and inquiry during the AP Art and Design course was something I felt honored to do every single day.
I have weekly meetings with my students one on one, I pair them up with their peers and I put them in brainstorming groups- this is weekly and helps to keep the inquiry, skill, and development process moving more consistently.

I required experimentation and photographic documentation each day we met for class and at home. They had to submit photos of their ‘progress’ every time they worked on their pieces; before they worked on them, during and after, each day. Formative assessments not only occurred during the preliminary brainstorming process by implementing multi-page sustained investigation Idea development packets I made for each student and for each SI piece. In addition, formative assessments occurred every day in the classroom by open communication with each student, weekly and daily meetings with students, mid-critiques, partner critiques, and evaluation forms completed weekly both for the written statements as well as the progress within their sustained investigation works and their final SI works. Summative assessments my students completed, occurred after every sustained investigation was due; we had a full class critique of each sustained investigation that took one or two full class blocks. In addition, at the end of the school year, end of April/Beginning of May, our AP Art class holds a large full week AP Art show that we put on display for the entire school Monday-Friday. We have an opening artist reception that takes place the first night the show is open; usually on that Monday.

Fortunately, our school’s schedule runs on a block schedule where every class meets every other day on a rotating schedule for 90-minutes at a time. This allows for more discussion, inquiry, and brainstorming time to create high-quality sustained investigation pieces. Our principal was such a breath of fresh air in how she opened her mind to allowing art to have equal importance, equal opportunities, equal support both financially as well as visibility in the school, and materials needed for the success of the course. She came to visit our art classes when she had the time, she attended our Art show every year and communicated with the students about their ideas and creations, which made them consistently feel important and valued as artists and students. One of my pieces of advice for other AP Art and Design teachers to have a successful year leading the course would be to stay on your students with their deadlines, due dates, and submissions- keep constant check-ins and assign points for every check-in, assignment, etc and stick to them and be consistent across the board throughout the year. The students may feel frustrated that you are so ‘on them,’ but in the end, it will allow for more success and pride at completion for them!


How can I portray childhood innocence through ordinary moments of play?
To answer this question, I created this piece called “Alexis and Caitlyn”, named after the children in the painting. Working as a children’s summer camp counselor over my summer break, I was captivated by the wonder in each camper’s eyes. Their endless energy, thirst for excitement, and colorful imagination inspired me to create a collection that would capture the childhood innocence that we as adults have long lost. Despite the world circumstances of the past few years, children remain optimistic. Because of the profound nature of childhood, I am proud to be able to capture a portion of its magic in my artworks.
I began my artmaking process by taking my own photographic reference of my subjects. Then on a stretched canvas, I gridded and sketched outlines using a pencil. I then began the painting process by painting a light wash. Then I proceeded to paint from the background to the foreground, leaving details and highlights last. I chose to paint with oil paint and turpentine because of how forgiving and smooth the medium is, allowing me to create a photorealistic painting.
Creating art this year has challenged not only my artistic abilities but also my endurance and perseverance for creating Art. Because of the first semester of e-learning and overall low attendance in my classes, my motivation to create quality work is put to the test. With the help of my art teacher and some classmates, making art became easier and more enjoyable. To me, art class was a highlight of my school days, and being able to put on an in-person art show was the peak of my high school years.
Student headshot
Janin Liu
Cameron Muir
It was exciting for all of us at Glenbrook South High School when we heard of the honor given to Janin Liu by the College Board. Janin’s work impressed us from the first time we saw it displayed in our school this past year. The work captured so many of the sentiments we all felt during the pandemic: loss, hope, true friendship, among others.
Janin has conveyed through her work what we desire for all our students to creatively express in their art. The teachers in our art program are dedicated in helping students share their voice through many media, many times representing extremely personal experiences and other times shared or collective experiences. This piece brilliantly combines both.
The space our teachers create for students allows them to pursue their passions and to take risks while exploring the challenges, opportunities, and joys that we encounter. Janin’s comments about her work, “...To me, it is a place where children simply enjoyed themselves despite being in a complicated world. Their ability to find joy and humor in the bleakest situations proves them to be more resilient than most,” can resonate deeply with all of us as we contemplate and reflect upon this past year.
digital signature
Janin Liu