AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Angela King

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features an illustration made by Angela King from Zama Middle High School in Zama, Japan.

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. Each week we highlight a work or series created in one of the AP Arts concentrationsAP 2-D Art and Design, 3-D Art and Design, and AP Drawing (the AP Program also offers Art History and Music Theory)—as well as a statement from the artist (and, occasionally, their teacher).

From the first cave paintings to contemporary breakthroughs in virtually reality, art, in all its forms, has been a crucial way for people to process, make sense of, comment on, and grapple with the world around them. After more than a year of life in a pandemic, AP Art students have risen to the challenge of processing and making sense of the challenges—and opportunities—that have come from this perilous time. The work they submitted in their final portfolios is explicitly of the moment. It’s often challenging and provocative, but always insightful, inspiring, and expansive.

This week we feature an illustration made by Angela King from Zama Middle High School in Zama, Japan.

black and white illustration of a hand moving a pawn on a chess board with the word education written on the pawn, against a background of eyes

Here’s Angela’s statement on the work:

My sustained investigation started with how I could compare and contrast traditional Korean culture and folktales to modern Korean society. However, as I progressed through my portfolio, I realized that my investigation should not solely focus on Korean modern society but today’s society as a whole. Therefore, my sustained investigation was guided by the question of how I could juxtapose traditional Korean folktales to modern social and societal issues. Each piece featured in my portfolio demonstrated the relevance of different traditional stories in modern society.

“The title of this piece is ‘Checkmate’ and was influenced by a famous Korean folktale that taught lessons of conformity and to act in accordance to expectations. I quickly related the tale’s main ideas to the struggles of many people today, which is living in accordance with what society has deemed appropriate and acceptable. We learn to conform and work hard towards approval only to realize that it isn’t as fulfilling as society advertised. We have freedom in our own lives, however we are greatly influenced by societal gazes and feel pressured to achieve certain milestones in order to be ‘successful’ or ‘accepted.’

grid of six images, three by two, showing the process of making the chess board illustration

“I illustrated a chess game to symbolize societal expectations and how we conform to them. The chess pieces identify general life milestones we are expected to fulfill as well as the consequences and risks of those actions. The player is carefully maneuvering their pieces under the gaze of everyone else. The eyes in the background illustrate the feeling of being watched by society and fearing negative reactions if a certain life decision is not executed ‘correctly.’ The old and cracking skin texture further represents the fear of watchful eyes as well as cracking under societal pressures. Lastly, I purposely crafted this art piece in a monotone gray scale to illustrate a bleak and unfulfilled life of conforming. Just like in chess, your life has millions of different possibilities. Don’t let certain views and expectations confine you into tiny black and white squares.

And here are a few other works from Angela’s portfolio:

illustration of a crying girl in a yellow dress

Korean folktale of a tiger being a child predator as social commentary about today’s crimes against children. Collage of Korean crime headlines/text made into a sobbing child symbolizing the face of all victimized children.

illustration of a bruised woman in a strapless navy dress, eyes closed, with words on her face, neck and shoulders covering red bruises, against a background of text messages

Demonstrate the damage of verbal abuse/cyberbullying with eyes closed vs physical wounds. Skin discolored with verbal wounds, background collage comments symbolizes cyber/verbal abuse, closed eyes hide pain.

illustration of a discarded and fraying stuffed brown bear in a dark forest, with downcast eyes looking at the ground strewn with other discarded toys

Aged storybook forest depicts discarded Korean traditional toys representing Korean folktale of child neglect. Experimented with shading to rip, age, weather to emphasize neglect.

strapless dress with a library printed on the top and books printed on the skirt

Appropriated historical art painted on original dress symbolizes how reading/fashion transports/transforms people. Designed/sewed dress, painted a library on the bodice and falling books on skirt to symbolize knowledge, warped text symbolizes absorption.

poster of an angry looking white rabbit with the words “change begins with you” on the right, with a grid of four process images on the left

Digital collage of scenes as a PSA for man’s abuse of nature.

Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.