AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Elee Sharp

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a 3D work made by Elee Sharp from Fort Atkinson High School in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

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 a 3D work made by Elee Sharp from Fort Atkinson High School in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

Photograph of sculptures of a hammer and crowbar, crisscrossed, and two nails below them, all painted white with blue adornments

Here’s Elee’s statement on the work:

“One of the most upsetting events that could happen to an artist is an accident that breaks or ruins a piece they have invested many strenuous hours making. My sustained investigation was guided by this idea of destruction, specifically how the process of breaking and mending can be utilized in the content of a piece. I was compelled to pursue this because it would force me out of my comfort zone and break the monotony of having my pieces turn out as planned. I soon found that purposefully ruining my work was both nerve-wracking and exciting.

“This piece, ‘Fragile,’ is a series of three types of tools: a hammer, some nails, and a crowbar. Each was crafted from clay with walls that were as thin as possible. I then spray-painted these delicate pieces white. Using layers of blue enamel paint, I built up floral and geometric designs resembling fine china that wrap around each of the tools. These visually and physically delicate tools juxtapose the expectation that tools are rugged and strong.

Grid of six images, three by three, showing the sculptures of hammer, crowbar, and nails being destroyed while being put to use

"The performance of breaking the clay tools simply through typical use represents the societal pressures on gender and the flaws associated with toxic masculinity. While the decoration of the tools alone reflects gender stereotypes, breaking the tools adds an additional and more complex layer that demonstrates the damage caused by these stereotypes.

“Some of the best support I received from my art teacher while working on my portfolio was her encouragement to push my limits in all directions. In terms of meaning, detail, or scale, she continually showed me how to go one step further. Whether through practicing with different combinations and styles of breaking and mending or experimenting with non-traditional art materials, I can attribute much of my growth and enjoyment through crafting my portfolio to my art teacher.”

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

Array of 12 images showing process of making a tree sculpture by first dropping and destroying a clay house and weaving the shards into the tree's roots

Wire tree growing from pieces of broken ceramic house, representing community.

Array of seven images showing the process of making a raised tree illustration using bits and cuts from other objects for the background

Mosaic tiles with plant texture synthesizes that plants=building blocks of nature in local park.

Two stacked images showing the front and rear view of a statue, in silver paint and clay brown of a person comforting a woman laying down, with her body shattered into segments

Broken figure shows emotional struggle- partially rebuilt investigates healing with help of loved one.

Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.