This past year, (my senior year of highschool) I took a class called “Advanced Placement Studio Art”. Alongside four other talented painting/drawing art students, I was given the challenge to create twelve pieces of art focused around a central theme, called a “concentration”.
I began preparation for my concentration in late September, and my ideas evolved through a series of lists, sketches, and notes I put down in paper-bag covered homemade sketchbooks.
(Following two pictures: evolution from idea to finished piece)
I would call myself an introvert, but I’m also very relational; I get energized by spending time in solitude, but also through real, focused conversations with others. In my concentration, I wanted to find a way to explore this apparent dichotomy within myself. Over the span of six months, my art took me down a very introspective route in which I examined how I perceive events and relationships, and how those perceptions relate to and influence my friends and family. Here is an excerpt from a short essay I wrote about my concentration that explains how this concept worked its way into my pieces:
“I sought to explore experiences, seen through the eyes of someone going through things solo, versus alongside others. These contrasts led me to make each of the pieces in my concentration into diptychs, drawn in charcoal.
When initially brainstorming for my concentration, I began to picture in my head times I had eaten dinner alone, on the couch, distracted by the t.v. instead of conversation. In contrast, I pictured vibrant meals I have shared with friends involving lively conversation and delectable food. Some of my drawings allude to the past, such as a family centered around a radio, or students from the 1950’s gathered in a college library. Our lives today are more isolated compared to previous generations; while technology and social media platforms have allowed us to connect with thousands of people digitally, they have also provided an escape. They have given us an excuse to stay at home binging on Netflix; or in a socially awkward situation, our phones provide a distraction so that we aren’t idly standing around.”
As I alluded to in the excerpt, my concentration draws inspiration from the mid-twentieth century. I romanticize the past, and this was meant to highlight the contrast between our tech-absorbed present, and the elusive simplicity of former days.
But as I progressed through my pieces, I came to the realization that no age or era is perfect, and people will always be grasping for a time, experience or relationship that is unattainable by human means. Only Christ can provide the fulfillment our souls yearn for.
Over the course of the concentration, I can confidently say that I became a better artist; I improved my technical skill, ability to express ideas, pacing for deadlines, creativity, and determination. I’ve gotten better at taking criticism and improving from it. I’ve been able to share my work on more platforms than ever before. My experience in a college-level course has given me the challenge, confidence and know-how I need, as I prepare to transition into college life, and the greater development that will bring to my experience as an artist.