AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Kaya Long

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a digital collage made by Kaya Long from Parker School in Waimea, Hawaii.

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 digital collage made by Kaya Long from Parker School in Waimea, Hawaii.

Illustrative collage of a young black woman against an orange background with an oval mirror-like frame in the middle depicting two young black men

Here’s Kaya’s statement on the work:

“This piece is titled ‘An Adornment of Mirrors and Labels.’ It explores the concept of having a fragmented identity as one struggles to find their ‘true self,’ and the connection between how others see us and self-perception. It is a piece of my sustained investigation guided by the question of how deep does identity go? Do we need to cut out parts of ourselves to find our identity? How can we truly find our authenticity within our identity amidst the societal pressure to conform and assimilate? These are all questions that I’ve pondered in my own day to day life, and with each year that goes by I have found that they have become increasingly relevant and pressing.

“I practiced layering the collage in a way that upheld the pieced-together nature of the work, while displaying how fragments of separate things can seamlessly coexist to make a whole even more beautiful than the sum of its parts. I experimented with opacity and the juxtaposition between clean cut and softer lines. Later, I revised my portfolio to effectively weave the galaxy motif throughout the collection. This represents the empty space that is crucial for development, as you need to cut things out of your identity to allow it to take shape.

“Digital collage proved to be the optimal material for exploring my inquiry, as it allowed me to literally cut out and paste a variety of images together to create the finished product. I realized more and more that this process perfectly represents the quest for identity itself. It is a continuous process with the goal of creating a whole that satisfies the individual, but inevitably, everyone will see something different. This led me to another question that I’ve been asking myself: Is self-acceptance alone enough?”

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

Illustrative collage of a young black man looking at a hot air balloon with a giant eye on the top of it

What does it mean to come to terms with who we are? Is self-acceptance alone enough?

Illustrative collage of a young woman crouching in large blue waves

How do our connections to family and encounters with others shape who we become?

Illustrative collage depicting an abstract scene of people, places, and events

Collage reveals how we are the sum of many wholes, made up of many parts that somehow manage to fi t

Two-by-two grid of an illustration of a young woman, looking down, with various background and foreground images

Experimentation and revision slide exploring composition, placement, and repetition.

Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.