AP Art and Design Exhibit
AP 2-D

MArceline Castrillon

Wakefield High School|Arlington, Virginia
Dimensions: 13” x 19”|Materials: Canon EOS 90d, Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Model, Water|Processes: Image contrast, highlights, and shadows were adjusted and augmented. Color layers and a de-haze were added.|Idea(s): Inspired by Argento's "The Three Mothers" trilogy. There's a focus on emotion and vibrant colors.|Curatorial Note: This photograph with a strong gaze draws us in every time we looked at it during the Reading.

Student statement

This piece is entitled "Lachrymarum," named after Mother Lachrymarum of Dario Argento’s Giallo horror film trilogy “The Three Mothers.” I can’t say this particular photograph relates to my sustained investigation inquiry as this Selected Work has to do with recreating the essence of his movies regarding his use of vibrant color, how the shots were taken, etc. For my Sustained Investigation, the body of work takes elements from the fairy tales of Swan Lake and the Ugly Duckling to tell my story. A celebration not only of the joy I’ve found in my life but the arduous journey it took to find it. My struggles to reconcile my Latinx heritage and my trans-identity. I meant for my work to be intimate and expansive, a connection between a melodic past and a chaotic future. I chose this topic and never wavered from it as both stories are ridden with transformation, utilizing beauty and romance for palatability. I revised my writing often as the word limit made it challenging to express all I wanted to say. I worked with my peers and my teacher to achieve a clear understanding of the images. My Selected Work uses inspired techniques/aesthetics from Argento’s work, specifically his film Suspiria, the first in the trilogy. During this process, I strayed away from most of the aid my teacher offered as I felt I needed space to explore my themes and experiment. Nevertheless, help was always offered by my teacher, Ms. Davidson. She would help me reign in concepts and critique my work on multiple levels by allowing me the freedom to create expressively. Furthermore, she facilitated in-class critiques with my fellow students, where open discourse, constructive criticism, and appreciation lived.

TEacher statement

Jina Davidson
A colleague recommended Marceline Castrillon take my Photography 3 class in her junior year (a big shout-out to Susi Brittain, who taught her Photography 1 online during the pandemic). This request was highly unusual because Photography 1 and 2 are the foundation classes for Photography 3, which is geared towards independent portfolio creation - a prerequisite for AP Art and Design. Then, Marceline showed me her body of work. It was evident that Marceline not only had talent, she had a definitive style that was fresh and exciting. I immediately allowed her to bypass Photography 2 and enrolled her straight into Photography 3, where she continued to impress me with her prolific images and drive. In my AP Art and Design course the following year, she came on the first day of class with a portfolio already in mind. She is just amazing.

Marceline is one of the most talented and creative photographers I have taught in my 31 years as an educator. Every assignment and every photo I’ve ever received from Marceline is a work of art. She is the very definition of an artist and is destined for greatness.

The photograph was chosen for inclusion in the 2023 AP Art and Design Exhibit, “Lachrymarum” also won a National Scholastic Arts American Visions Award and Gold Medal. A National Gold Medal is awarded to less than 1 percent of the 380,000 Regional Gold Key entries. An American Visions Medal is awarded to less than 20 students in the country. This is genuinely astonishing but not surprising for someone of Marceline’s talent.

If the goal of all artists is to have a signature look, the goal of every art teacher is to get their students to find their voice. Marceline has indeed found her voice as a portraitist. But she is not just any portraitist; she is a documenter of teens. Her images of what it is like to be a teen in today’s society are as timely as beautiful. She photographs her friends as hyper-stylized images of models while retaining their personalities. Her photograph of a young girl sporting a mohawk looks as if it could be taken straight from the pages of Vogue. Her portrait of a young male wearing a flower headband is reminiscent of Robert Mapplethorpe, sensuous and alluring—a teen in bloom. In “Lachrymarum,” a girl’s face is surrounded by droplets of water suspended in mid-air. Her expression is both young and old, haunting and beautiful. This is Marceline. She has the soul of an artist and the skill of someone thrice her age.

I learned from Marceline and my other AP Art and Design students that less is more. Art and creativity come hand in hand with emotional safety. Some days, no art comes out of my classroom, and that’s okay! My classroom is a judgment-free zone; if we provide them a safe space and give them the time to find themselves, they will not only surprise you but surpass your and their expectations.

Lastly, I cannot stress the importance of a great support system. My fellow art teachers and I scaffold our courses to ensure the success of every student advancing in art. AP Art and Design is the culmination of these formative years. My school district, Arlington Public Schools, values the Arts tremendously. With our always hard-working Arts Education department and my greatest supporter, Arts Education Supervisor Dr. Pam Farrell, students like Marceline Castrillon and teachers like me can be themselves and thrive.
Marceline Castrillon