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American International School of Cape Town|Cape Town, South Africa
TEACHER: Heidi Mouret
2-D Art and Design
Girl facing camera with band-aids on arms containi
Beauty Behind the Pain | 16.5 x 11.7 in.
Idea(s): An attempt to block the negativity received, as a black woman Material(s): Digital camera, photoshop, cloth backdrop, lights, bandaids w/ personally overheard comments
Process(es): Placed the bandaids w/ neg overheard comments on her forearms then photographed her
Maisha Nganga
How did this work relate to the questions that guided your sustained investigation?
A large part of my sustained investigation was about exploring racism from a personal perspective. I wanted to create a final piece of work that displayed a black woman blocking away all of the pain (with regards to skin tone discrimination, body image, etc.) as well as highlighting her beauty behind it all.
What kinds of practice, experimentation, and revision were involved in making this work?
The process of the photoshoot involved a lot of revision. I first placed the band-aids on my sister's face and took a few photos of her in various positions, but transferring the band-aids to her arms required a lot of care and precision that I didn’t anticipate in my planning process. It took a lot to get the correct lighting and poses I had envisioned.
What materials, processes, and ideas did you use to make this work?
I used my sister as a model, bandaids and a black permanent marker as my materials. The process involved a lot of lighting adjustments and the idea came from trying to display that there is beauty behind all pain. As well as showing that it takes black women an incredible amount of strength and resilience to overcome the pain they receive from society on a daily basis.
What did you learn from making art this year?
I learned that very few projects go 100% according to plan, there will always be revision no matter how meticulously you have been planning.
What did you do to develop original and creative ideas in the artmaking process?
I took a lot of inspiration from my own life and everything that has been going on in the world with regards to the Black Lives Matter movement. I started the year wanting to create beautiful art, but art that makes a statement about the harsh political climate we are currently living in.
Is there anything special your art teacher did to support you and your classmates this year?
My art teacher did so much to support me this year. She was so enthusiastic and supportive of all of my ideas, which made the whole year very pleasant. She always made me feel safe and comfortable, which I needed as a large part of my sustained investigation was about racism I have received personally. The topic of racism and discrimation is a hard thing to discuss, but Ms. Mouret always made it a little bit easier.
Is there anything special your school principal does to support your growth as an art student?
In December our AP Art class had to present all of the work we had done for the semester to our peers and other members of our school faculty. As the due date was approaching I remember both of our schools' principals come into the art room to see what we had done. They both listened enthusiastically to my brief presentation and asked questions which made me feel as if they genuinely cared about my work which made me feel very supported.
What is your advice to other AP Art and Design students?
Have a rough idea of what you want to do before the school year even starts. You don’t have to write anything down or have a full plan for the year, just come in with something. The hardest part of the year for me was actually starting so my biggest piece of advice is to come to class on the first day of school with a rough idea.
Listen to the Teacher statement

Read the transcript
I'm incredibly fortunate to have a small AP class, so I'm able to have proper in-depth discussions with individual students often.

Although the students work at their own pace, we have regular check-ins, and I really enjoy it when students are able to run critiques informally amongst themselves. I can also set up the studio space in whatever way suits individual student needs, and my students document their thinking processes throughout the year. I teach at a school
sketchbook planning pages for photograph

Process Work
| 16.3 x 23 in.
Material(s): Workbook planning, photographs, bandaids, photoshop, Kenyan fabric
Process(es): Planning of experimental photoshoot highlighting the beauty and pain of being a black woman
Maisha Nganga
Maisha Nganga