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Yichen Tong
Beijing National Day School|Beijing, China
11.4” x 16.2” Idea(s): Countless restraints in such a chaotic world pulled the two lovers away from each other mercilessly. Material(s): charcoals, pencils, black and white pencils, erasers, brushes and layers on procreate Process(es): make sketches, draw on paper with charcoals and black and white pencils, adjust on procreate.
Curatorial Note: Experimental layering with a variety of analog materials and digital tools

“Can I capture one’s loneliness in desperation and his struggle to escape from the predicament of modernity and explore the implicit connections between individuals’ gloominess and the depressed state of society through the use of the formal qualities of art?”


The titles for my two works are Separation and Confusion. The first work, Separation, shows two lovers pulling away from each other with pain on their faces because of the countless invisible restraints within such a dark and chaotic world. Seemingly, they are experiencing the separation of life and death. Then the second work, Confusion, shows the representation of the dynamic and chaotic external world with potential risks, which blurs our eyes and confuses us.
These two works are closely connected to my inquiry about “Depression,” a kind of description of the internal worlds of individuals and their relationships with their surroundings, other individuals, and environments, finally extended to broader society in an implicit way. The idea was initiated and developed from self-reflection on long-term depression and negative emotions. The series of works is more like a self-exploration of emotion with my personal growing consciousness of creation.
Equipped with fundamental drawing principles, I could freely integrate them into my works. I kept my own drawing style throughout the portfolio. I enjoyed the effect of black and white, which can be achieved by using materials like pencil, charcoal, or acrylic paint. Usually, I enrich the scene with chaotic lines and shapes, complex layers, and distorted figures. Through the use of strong contrast in light and dark, rough and smooth surfaces, I wanted to depict a strong visual-spatial depth with a foreboding atmosphere.
The strategies I implemented for my sustained investigation were documentation of life and experimentation with materials. For example, I spent time reflecting on my past experience by searching for relative photos that may connect to depressed emotions and recorded them in sketchbooks. I also spent a lot of time exploring the materials in the second selected work. Initially, I actively collected the waste accessible materials like iron webs, according to their characteristics, and in the subsequent creative process, I tried to compare the combination of a variety of materials and the expected dynamic use of light and shadow effects. Meanwhile, revisions played an important role to help me gradually develop a stronger impact. It was great to share my ideas with others, repeatedly taking critiques from others allowed me to adjust my work in detail.
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Yichen Tong
16.2” x 11.4” Idea(s): Various materials compose a complex and disturbing social environment that confuses our eyes. Material(s): acrylics, black and white spray paint, canvas, plastics, iron webs, glue and layers on procreate. Process(es): melt the glue and plastic to stick on the board, spray on the canvas with paint for layers.
Here, I want to mention that I feel extremely thankful to my school art teacher, Ms. Ellen Estes, who provided me with great support and encouragement, assisting me in becoming better. Under her guidance throughout the academic year, I could strongly feel an outstanding growth in my ability and horizons for art and design. From the idea to the real work, it was she who helped me with good suggestions to improve. I intensively shared ideas with her and received useful feedback.
Finally, I do have suggestions for the following AP Art and Design students. Try to be bold to demonstrate yourself from any perspective you want. Never stop exploring the art world. You will definitely develop better art on this art path.

Teacher Statement

Ellen Estes
Eric’s preference lies in AP 3-D Art and Design; however, I started the school year teaching in the U.S. Therefore, AP 3-D was not offered. I had to convince Eric to take the AP Drawing course, saying it would strengthen his knowledge in profound ways. Eric told me he didn’t have strong drawing skills. I told him over the course of the year, they would strengthen and not worry and that I cared more about his ideation than I did about his immediate drawing skills. What Eric does possess are a strong work ethic and an excellent intellectual mind. He is able to synthesize what I teach, converting it into his emotional visual communication.
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I tell my students the most important thing that I can do for them is to empower them to think, give them autonomy, and expose them to how artists change the world for the betterment of humankind. Research and revision become fundamental to student success. Throughout the year, I keep pushing students to experiment, have fun, and work hard.     Just a few of the strategies I used to bring Eric's work to a more avant-garde approach was to challenge him to create abstract works that construct a depth of space on his flat 2-D surface, to incorporate a dramatic play of light and to create a strong contrast between textures. In his work Confusion, Eric places the viewer at a strategic aerial vantage point, where one can peer into a glamorization of forms and lines that expands immense space. He juxtaposed solids with voids intersected by soft folds of flat movement layered with overlapping diagonal lines that break the compositional frame. He is also able, through layering, to capture an ethereal feeling that deeply connects the viewer emotionally to his sustained investigation. The world has always been filled with uncertain times, and modernity just seems to have compounded this dubiety that he faithfully captures. The brilliance of these works lies in Eric's ability to connect the meaning of his content to his audience.
Yichen Tong

Principal Statement

Mingjun Teng
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Upon the request of several AP Studio Art students, Beijing National Day School hired Ellen Estes, an experienced AP Art and Design teacher from the U.S., in 2016. Ms. Estes is now entering her seventh year of service. We have watched the program grow every year in enrollment and exceed global scores each year in almost every category.
Grade 10 students have the option of “taster classes” in 3-D Design and sculpture, where they can explore their interests. In Grades 11 and 12, students can select AP 3-D Art and Design, AP 2-D Art and Design, AP Drawing, or AP Photography to further develop their strengths in art. With the guidance of this structured program, our students are able to attend the top art schools in the U.S. as well as the U.K.
Our school provides a modern looking exhibition space that has close proximity to the art studios. Additionally, there is access to display images of students’ artworks on a TV screen. The administration approved the space of a small room that separates the two Art Studio classrooms to provide a storage area for art supplies. We also give autonomy to our AP Studio program to produce innovative, high-quality works, guiding our students to achieve success and promote their works on social media.
AP Art and Design program at our school has become a popular and warm community where students communicate their ideas, collaborate with each other, and devote their time to art.