AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Zaira Chowdury

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a photograph made by Zaira Chowdury from Georgetown Day School​ in Washington, D.C.

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 Zaira Chowdury from Georgetown Day School​ in Washington, D.C.

black and white photo of an older woman writing in a notebook while sitting at a table, with words and handwriting superimposed on the image

Here’s Zaira’s statement on the work:

"Creating this portfolio, especially on such a personal and heavy topic, was not an easy task. It took more out of me than I could have ever imagined and made me empathize more than I ever have.

"What was also new to me was this style of photography. Coming from a background of mainly landscape and nature photography, taking on this project and desiring to do it well was a considerable amount to undertake. I had to teach myself how to manage Photoshop and Lightroom with the little knowledge I knew, and I had to expand my view on how I can create art. If my idea was not shown correctly, due to my devotion to making a product that was respectful of my family, I had to redo it and revise it with better ideas that shifted its focus. I also needed to dig into a different heavy topic in every one of my pieces and format it in a way that was accurate and respectful to the subject.

"Finally, I would like viewers to understand that this is a representation of an outsider's view of someone else’s situation. This can never correctly capture the moments I aimed to present, even with my full intention to do so. Interpret these images in the way you would like. Thank you for reading and viewing."

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

black and white photo of an old woman lying in a hospital bed, wearing an oxygen mask, and surrounded by food and hospital equipment

Aerial shot taken and subject lightened to add focus to the emotion of loneliness.

photo looking down a spiraled stairwell with shadows creating keyboard patterns on the steps

Composition focused on repetition, contrast, and rhythm to show abstraction. Took from an aerial view to create a spiral effect on the stairs. Balanced the reflections with frame.

photo collage of a middle-aged woman against a background of documents and newspaper clippings

Photo of her and layered it on top of images surrounded by memorabilia that memorialized her life.

black and white photo collage of an old woman appearing to drink from an oversized orange pill bottle

Enlarged the pill bottles in background to show the excessive medicine. Used color for emphasis.

black and white photo of an old woman covering her face while lying in bed, with a collage of old photos edited into the windows of the room

Windows replaced with photos of deceased loved ones. Represent who she will eventually join.

black and white photo of a young woman wearing a face covering hugging an old woman in a hospital bed wearing an oxygen mask

Image of her standing strong in the presence of a younger relative that relies on her.

Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.