AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Sydney Turner

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a painting made by Sydney Turner from Northern Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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 painting made by Sydney Turner from Northern Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Painting of angular aliens in peach and pink against an abstract blue and green background

Here’s Sydney’s statement on the work:

"'A Small Edris Family Gathering'—Background with acrylic paint, sketched out the aliens on sketchbook paper, painted the aliens with acrylic paint, did details with posca paint pens, cut the aliens out, figured out placement on canvas, then Modge Podged to attach the painted paper on the canvas, Mod Podge was also used as a finish on the entire painting.

"I created a fictional planet using my own ideas and concepts for my sustained investigation. I was inspired by my interest in science fiction, specifically the concept of other planets and intelligent life outside of our solar system. For this selected piece I wanted to illustrate the concept that numbers in normalcy can differ in space and time; the idea that a certain number is seen as large on earth but could be seen as small on another planet fascinates me. I wanted the title A Small Erdis Family Gathering  to seem like a contradiction when comparing it to the crowded piece, to convey how the concept of a “normal number” can be completely different depending on the time, place and space. From the beginning of my concentration I knew I wanted to try and come up with everything myself. The first thing I decided is that I was going to name the Planet Daetraina (a mix of syllables from different words is how I came up with most of the names.) I then created the main intelligent species on Daetraina; The Erdises (pictured in work.) I made the Erdis a highly intelligent but simple creature, the Erdises have no mouth, ears, or nose, only eyes and they communicate telepathically. They are genderless and sexless creatures that are created by plants that are also biologically immortal. Their most notable quality is that they have an abundance of emotional intelligence which keeps the species at complete peace within themselves."

Here’s Sydney’s teacher Mary Ann Vespa on Sydney’s work:

“Some students need a great deal of guidance and supervision while developing their AP Art portfolios, but Sydney is one of those students where I needed to sit back and watch her investigation develop. The best support I could be for Sydney was to simply be her cheerleader. She had an idea and she ran with it. Each new piece fed off of the last one, and her concentration blossomed. Sydney wasn’t afraid to take risks and try new things. Her work is original, creative, unique, and as her art teacher, I couldn’t ask for anything more. I am so proud of Sydney!”

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

Painting of angular aliens in peach and pink against three different backgrounds: red on top, purple in the middle, and blue at the bottom

Illustrating negative characteristics of the human nature such as ego, vanity and immorality. I made flat shapes out of clay, painted them, glued them to canvas to create texture to paint over.

Painting of green creatures in an alien landscape with red, blue, and orange sky

To show an idea of dangerous that differs from our understanding of the word. I experimented with using toothpicks for the dotting in the background and outlining.

Painting of angular alien in peach and pink huddled under a pink shell against an orange background

I used acrylic paint and paint pens, focused on gem-tones, focused on the isolated atmosphere.

Painting of angular aliens in peach and pink sitting on a red couch against a green wall with a photo of the aliens at the top

Using acrylic paint and paint pens to create a vibrant introduction to this imaginary species.

Painting of angular alien in peach and pink standing on a red ground looking at a green, purple and blue sky

I wanted this painting to focus on color theory, I also experimented with a loose abstract border.

Painting of angular aliens in orange sitting on a blue and purple sphere with a green sky with a floating eye in the background

I tried to create a vivid atmosphere to focus on the idea of communication without verbal words.

Student and teacher statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.