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Yebin
(Adelyn) Sim
The Hill School|Pottstown, Pennsylvania
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AP 2-D
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Dimensions:11” x 11”| Materials: Acrylic paint, transparent acrylic plate|Processes: Applied acrylic on top of an acrylic plate as a glass box, focus on the crack starting liberation|Student quote: Glass box as invisible margin between personal space and external area, art as power to break border.

Student statement

I define borders as the imagined limits we all feel are determined by majority beliefs. They can be beneficial when seeking comfort and harmful when restricting opportunities to speak up. I explored the duality of metaphorical borders and freedom.
In Seoul, I was taught to be careful of my words and was forced to merge into the cultural homogeneity. Self-expression was a challenge; now, I am faced with the tension of freedom and how attempts to convey myself provoke others’ judgments, ultimately limiting my actions.
This idea for my work originates from my published children’s book “Giraffe’s Wings.” The giraffe in the book, my younger persona, breaks the wooden frame where it belonged in the beginning and goes on a journey to find its wings, with a dream to fly through the sky. Its persevering pursuit to achieve its dream reversibly made me think about my goal. Soon, I came up with an investigation question: What is my passion that keeps me motivated and interconnected with the world, and how does it support my freedom?
Throughout the project, I explored self-definitions in others’ critical eyes and my own, using various containers to symbolize societal borders. In the artwork on display, I attempted to break the boundary between myself and the outside world full of opinionated, subjective eyes. To convey this idea, I painted myself inside a glass box, squeezed, with stained clothes and paint-covered hands. The paint represents art, my drive, and my passion, while the glass box symbolizes the invisible margin between my personal space and the external area where I share my art and thoughts. I added a crack in the glass where my finger touched it; it represented the power art has and how art helps me take a step forward outside the glass box. For materials, I applied acrylic paint blobs on top of a transparent acrylic plate–the glass box.
The overall AP Art and Design experience, guided by Mrs. Nelson, has taught me diverse ways of self-expression. My investigation regarding others’ opinionated perspectives, self-judgment, and healthy boundaries has led to profound self-introspection. Concluding, here’s one piece of advice I would give future AP students: Keep art as your diary to explore yourself.
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Dimensions: NA|Materials: Pencil, Marker|Process(es): Experimentation with different poses.

tEACHER statement

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Ellen O. Nelson
Congratulations to Adelyn Sim for this fine distinction! I have had the pleasure of working with Adelyn for four years. She has exhibited excellent craftsmanship, creativity, and passion throughout those years. I remember clearly when Adelyn was starting her sustained investigation. We discussed various ways to synthesize her idea of borders and how they played a mixed role in her life. We also brainstormed about materials and processes that might help to convey this idea. There was a large cardboard box in the corner of the studio, and we both looked at it, and the creative ideas started to churn. Adelyn subsequently took her concept of the duality of how containers or restrictions can have positive and negative effects on humans. For her, containers became symbols for cultural norms, which, at times, can sometimes box people in and hamper their self-expression. She continuously returned to her original questions to help guide and sustain her investigation. Adelyn showed courage as she continued to explore different media that would enable her to dive deeply into her idea. It is easy to stay with what you know. It takes courage to try the unfamiliar. Besides her impeccable craftsmanship, Adelyn’s courage is one of the many aspects I admire in her.
How do you scaffold writing into the artmaking and thinking processes?
The process of writing and research plays a big part in the creation of the Sustained Investigation. With each completed project, Adelyn was required to submit several paragraphs describing how her project synthesized her idea, materials, and process. She was also encouraged to write down how she continued experimenting and revising. These paragraphs gave us structure as we critiqued the in-process and finished work.
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What is my advice to other AP Art & Design teachers
If you can, take an AP Summer Institute. I took one in 2022 and benefitted greatly. Part of the time, we were working on a Sustained Investigation—exactly what we asked our students to do. Tap into resources at your school. I am blessed to have a generous English teacher who meets with my students periodically and helps them hone and focus on their sustained investigation statements. Having another set of eyes on their statements is invaluable to the students and me. The key to any teaching is to break large goals into smaller, more manageable steps. In the spring of our third year of art, I require students to create a mini-sustained Investigation. Making process pages helps the students get accustomed to new vocabulary, inquiry methods, and research documentation. They are off and running when I meet them again in September of their fourth year.
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The glass box is an invisible margin between personal space and an external area. Art has the power to break the border.

Academic DEan statement

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Katy Hudak
The Hill School’s Visual Arts department is a vibrant community that consistently embraces and exemplifies the Hill Arts mission statement of “awaken[ing] the joy of creation.” The Visual Arts Education program has flourished under the direction of Ellen Nelson, who has shared her gifts of creativity and passion since 1987. I support the visual arts program in any way I can, first by meeting the financial and material needs of Mrs. Nelson and her students so they have the necessary tools, time, and space for their unique creative journeys. Equally important support comes through celebrating the arts across campus, encouraging field trips and guest artists, and providing our teachers with copious and creative professional development opportunities. Yebin “Adelyn” Sim found a home in Mrs. Nelson’s classroom when she first arrived at Hill, and her artistic vision has been nurtured ever since—exemplified by the compelling piece being honored by this incredible distinction.
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Yebin (Adelyn) Sim