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AP 2-d
Albert Einstein High School|Kensington, Maryland
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Prettlophine Cotton
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Dimensions: 6” x 9”|Materials: Procreate, Nikko Rull for background and coloring|Processes: Sketched on Procreate and used the Nikko Rull painting tool for the lineless effect. |Idea(s): Main characters Nelly and Alejandra are being chased out of butterflake kingdom|Curatorial Note: This is a wonderful example of this type of graphic narrative.

Student statement

How did you choose your inquiry? Did you change your mind as the portfolio developed?
Growing up as an excitable only child with ADHD, I struggled to find ways to express myself. The thing I loved most, sitting alone in my room, was watching television. Whether it was a cartoon that was premiering or that had been airing since before I was born. I loved watching how each character was dynamically mixed into one big solution. I wasn't just watching those cartoons for entertainment; the characters imprinted positivity on a little girl sitting alone in her bedroom. When I didn't have anyone to laugh with, I laughed with the characters on my screen; I cried, got angry, and felt through them. When the pandemic struck, I spent much time in my head. I learned more about myself as a creative: how to succumb to my creative thoughts and let my hands create rather than my brain. I freed myself to wherever my mind could wander, and my characters emerged. I continued to develop them, day by day and year by year, displaying pieces of myself in each character. When beginning my inquiry for my AP series, I chose a story about the internet and its effect on people, something I thought people wanted to see rather than something I was passionate about. My art teacher encouraged me to lean into my authentic self and, in turn, feel free! I pivoted and brought Alejandra and Nelly, the characters I'd been developing for years, with me. I broke from what was considered the norm and let my characters investigate the multiverse in my head. While experimenting with each piece, I valued the importance of color theory and how colors shape the piece's mood. I also studied dynamic poses and the importance of fluidity in composition. Each character varies in design, big or small; each character has a sense of originality. Similar to that in real life, regardless of where you go, there will always be someone who looks different and lives differently. My goal as an artist is for people to see parts of themselves through my work, through my characters in the big and tiny details. My work is for everyone, all the kids sitting alone exploring cartoons just like I was as a child. I invite them to stand with me in being different, not fitting the norm, and branching out to do something that has yet to be seen. The question that guided my inquiry was: How different would life be if we could go to different universes in our multiverse? We follow the main characters, Alejandra and Nelly, throughout their journey into the multiverse. We watch them grow and meet many unique faces throughout the multiverse! I love expressing my imagination through expressions and character design; the thrill I get from telling my stories through my backgrounds and character depth is a joy I am excited to share!
Detail, 13” x 12”|Materials: Nikko Rull for background and coloring.|Process(es): I sketched it out on Procreate, and used the Nikko Rull painting tool for the lineless effect.

Animation artwork

The main characters Nelly and Alejandra are being chased out of Butterflake Kingdom.

Teacher statement

Mygenet Harris and Sarah Harnish.
We are delighted to write this statement supporting our wonderfully talented student, Prettlophine Cotton. Prett is enrolled in the Visual Art Center, the oldest magnet program in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. One unique thing about our program is the students have two teachers/mentors to guide them in their work. We want all our students in our program to find their voice when creating their work. The inquiry-based approach to the AP Art and Design exam supports this individualized learning. Our students can follow their intuition, experiment, and investigate a topic. We encourage them to analyze how their experiences, backgrounds, beliefs, etc., shape their investigation and then infuse that analysis into the work. Prettlophine is a highly proficient painter and artist in traditional media but is drawn to digital media and storytelling. She lived and breathed her characters and spent hours sketching and developing the back story, personalities, clothes, body positioning, etc.
We support our students in the experimentation and revision process by starting their series with a two-page spread in which they pour all their ideas onto the pages. We encourage them to use words, lists, images, sketches, color palettes - anything goes as long as it gets on the pages. The intent is to get all of the minuscule details they have been darting around in their mind on a page to recall later. Often, students are drawn back to this practice as their investigation grows and changes. Our program seeks opportunities for students to present their work in our school gallery and local and regional galleries and competitions as they work through their AP investigation. We value students receiving feedback beyond their immediate teachers as a real-life experience in the art world. The more students can present their work and discuss their ideas verbally, the more they discover about their art and their relationship with the work. Prettlophine taught us so much while working on this series. Although we were familiar with Procreate, watching Prett work within Procreate was fascinating. She has a constant and consistent relationship with improving her digital art-making abilities, and we are always learning new tips and tricks from her. Since the 2023 AP Art and Design exam submission, Prett has taken these characters into animation and completed the pilot episode of her show entitled "ZIPPED UP."

We are so proud of Prett and can’t wait to see what she creates in her future. Our advice to other AP Art and Design teachers would be to give your students space to explore and take chances while encouraging and fostering a positive relationship between them and their art-making practices.
Sustained lnvestigation, Materials: Technical Pen on Procreate|Processes: Planning drawing
Prettlophine Cotton