AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Steph Suchite

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a photograph made by Steph Suchite from Woodside Priory High School​in Portola Valley, California.

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 photograph made by Steph Suchite from Woodside Priory High School​in Portola Valley, California.

Photograph of a young black person with their hands on their head

Here’s Steph’s statement on the work:

“The title of this piece is ‘Bound.’ This piece is very vulnerable to me as it represents a very real struggle I face between being what other people want of me and what I want of myself, which, unfortunately, is a very common theme amongst the queer community. As a gay, nonbinary Latinx kid who is also first-gen, my queerness and gender expression are extremely looked down upon, which makes me feel bound. The idea of this piece represents the overarching concept for my overall portfolio: the binding or constraints put upon queer individuals. In this piece, that constraint is demonstrated by the binding of my chest. Being someone very outspoken for injustices, tight off the bat, I knew I wanted to target a struggle in the queer community as it is one of the things I advocate for most strongly.

“When picking the materials for this piece, I decided I wanted to choose one of the things I struggle with the most and create a look around that. For me, my chest is a daily struggle because I hate binding as it makes my chest sore and can hurt quite a bit at the end of the day. But I also don't always enjoy having a flat chest. The hardest days are when I can't choose either/or. I use my GC2B binder, and over that, an ankle wrap to represent how binders aren't always accessible for everyone and how it can lead to people resorting to using more harsher items like ankle wraps, which aren't great alternatives.

“The skirt fell into the picture rather quickly after I decided to use my binder because my family always mentions how pretty I look in a skirt, even when I don't want to wear one. It's expected of me. Wearing these pieces and doing the photo shoot for this look was overall a heavy experience because I was uncomfortable. But I took that adversity as a piece of the puzzle to this project. This piece was supposed to exemplify a struggle of discomfort due to one's own internalized perception. The fact that I was feeling these emotions made me appreciate the piece so much more, which encouraged me to push through the discomfort and keep the piece rather than discard it.”

Photograph of a young black person with small silver chains stringing down over their face

Here’s Steph’s teacher, Reed Sullivan, on the work:

“In my opinion, this work is a gift. It's an invitation into a very private moment that Steph has orchestrated for us and for the LGBTQI community, which Steph set out to accurately and truthfully represent through the models and the outfits they've created. This creative process that Steph went through was very self-reflective. It included a ton of research, iteration, reiteration, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of struggles, and a lot of rewards as art always does.

“One of the most important things that Steph was able to gain was an even more empowered and even stronger voice for this community. Steph already has a very strong activist voice, but what they were able to do was gain even more voice through this visual component. Steph’s visual voice is going to be reached by so many, seen by so many, and hopefully inspire so many people not only through the beauty of the work but through the discourse around the conversation around the topic.

“The benefit of creating work like this within a class is that this work wasn't ever going to happen. This wasn't part of the vision board that originally Steph came in with. Only through critiques and reflection and one-on-ones with me and one-on-ones with other students could it come out that Steph really needed to include themself in the work. Steph pushed the boundaries that they were comfortable with and create work that was so empowering for so many. And I hope that you really do take a close look at it.”

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

Photograph of a young white person in torn jeans and a white tank top with their hands over their mouth

Create an unbound cross-dressing look that draws forth John Max's masculinity in feminine clothes.

Photograph of a young white person in a white ruffled shirt and holding a crown on their head

To show that femininity in men can be masculine, it won't make them any less manly or less queer.

Photograph of a young Asian person, looking down, with the top part of their head out of frame

Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.