Spotlight on Artist Islay Ross
The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a mixed-media work made by Islay Ross from Friday Harbor High School in Friday Harbor, Washington.
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 concentrations—AP 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 mixed-media work made by Islay Ross from Friday Harbor High School in Friday Harbor, Washington.
Here’s Islay’s statement on the work:
“As a junior in high school who has lived on a tiny island my whole life, the idea of abandoning home after graduation is one that fills me with uncertainty. Developed under the pressure of choosing a college, my sustained investigation explores my internal conflict by posing the self-reflective question: How does fearing the unknown affect my experience in the face of major change?
“My work conveys the complex nuances of transition in the context of the adolescent experience. I wanted to avoid painting change as a simple process by showing how hesitation, inspiration, uncertainty, nostalgia, internal conflict, and the thrill for adventure can all coexist during periods of transition. Ultimately, illustrating this complexity allowed me to look at my experience through a new lens of gratitude and acceptance.
“Embracing the organic forms of unbound canvas, “Welcome Mat” is a patchwork quilt illustrating my childhood home. As I explored the source of my hesitation to leave my island community, I focused on why my connection to my home is so strong. To evoke a warm, inviting image of our wooden cabin, I synthesized materials traditionally associated with the comfort of home (buttons, thread, wool, yarn, lace) with imagery specific to my childhood (our Elm fireplace, stairwell, French doors, patterned carpet, old wood siding). I used elements of childlike imagination to evoke nostalgia and innocence, such as the flowers on the roof, the crayon-like textures, and the playfully exaggerated scale. Each unique canvas patch was hand-stitched together with my mom’s embroidery materials, further emphasizing familial connection and dependency. Illustrating my connection with my home allowed me to better navigate my complex emotional experience, as I was able to focus less on leaving home behind and more on my gratitude for my happy childhood memories.”
And here are a few other works from Islay’s portfolio:
The title of "Rootbound" is a double entendre, referring to both the physical process of unifying the canvas with a rich, earthy sepia wash and the conceptual idea of natural, grounding connection.
Inspired by the storytelling imagery of folk art, "New Moon Baby" uses stacked canvases to represent the nature of growth.
Three figures represent imbalance during transition.Middle translucent figure symbolizes uncertainty.
Success derived from achievement [top figure], desire for personal contentment [bottom looking at moth].
Shows decision paralysis, fear of unforeseen consequences, string tension shows clinging to island home.
Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.