AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Avery Vang

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features wearable art made by Avery Vang from Libertyville High School in Libertyville, Illinois.

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 wearable art made by Avery Vang from Libertyville High School in Libertyville, Illinois.

Four photos of a young woman in a white dress with a black quarter-circle structural element attached

Here’s Avery’s statement on the work:

“My AP portfolio was an investigation of representing soundwaves through wearable art. This piece, ‘Echo,’ utilized repeating lines and contrast to depict a connection bouncing back and forth between the subjects. Inspired by echolocation, the two dresses combine to create a pattern of crossed dashed and solid lines when the subjects stand next to each other. The interlaced design of the crossed centerpieces represent a bond between the subjects. I created this piece to investigate structure and explore technique in building fashion pieces.

“The process of designing and sewing the dresses came with many challenges. The center semicircle structure had to be sturdy, but light enough to be held up by the skirt and shirt set. The skirt and shirt had to be carefully measured and sewn to fit tight enough to the models to avoid sagging when the semi-circles were attached. I also used multiple layers of fabric for stability. The center structure is cardboard backed with copper wire, wrapped in muslin, and painted black. I experimented with different materials like painted flattened wire and foam board, before finding that using cardboard and wire created a line that was thick, bold, and malleable, as well as lightweight. They fit into diagonal pockets in each top and skirt and are glued and sewn into place for stability.

Four photos of the artist's process of making the dress

“Over the process of creating my AP portfolio, I learned new sewing techniques and the importance of experimentation. Before this portfolio, I had virtually no knowledge about how to sew, I only had the idea of what I wanted to pursue. Through trial and error and extensive research, I successfully built garments I thought would never exist outside of a sketchbook. Through exploring new techniques like installing zippers, hemming, drafting, and draping, I have grown as a designer and artist. The experimentation I utilized most explicitly near the end of my portfolio with fabric dye and a Chladni plate, allowed for stronger works with the introduction of color and more thought-through, complete designs.

“I spent longer thinking through form, pattern and layering choices when my process included more extensive experimentation. I also enjoyed the act of making more; there was less pressure, and I focused on being guided by my process instead of being guided by deadlines. I am more confident in my own creating and in trusting the unknown of making through building my AP 3D portfolio.”

Two photos of a metal bracelet

Here’s Avery’s teacher Julie Johnson on Avery’s work:

“It can be a formidable challenge to launch into a journey without knowing the destination. One thing I learned from Avery is to have confidence in each student’s process of investigation. Avery started the year interested in representing sound waves through fashion, which evolved into implementing sound waves into her process of creating wearable art. As is evident in her portfolio, she chose a laborious technique. Not only had Avery begun to navigate a journey without a destination, she had also selected a particularly arduous route. However, she truly enjoyed the art-making process and the materials she was working with. This transformed an initially laborious process into intrinsically motivated projects of passion, as opposed to projects created simply to fulfill an assignment requirement.

“Avery was fortunate to critique with engaging peers whose discussions were a rich source of questioning and inspiration. When she started her investigation, Avery didn’t anticipate her processes, materials and ideas would begin to deeply synthesize when she began to experiment with a Chladni Plate. The Chladni plate is a tool created in the late 1700’s, which Avery modified to transpose sound waves into visual patterns directly onto fabric using dye. The resulting fabric was then used to construct wearable art. After seeing Avery’s successful exploration of an investigation that was at times uncertain, I will be more transparent in celebrating the muddy process of student investigation, encouraging students to be persistent in excavating their art-making passions and concepts through questioning, experimenting, and critique.”

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

Three photos of a young woman wearing a white dress with layered elements in black lines

Used fabric glue to adhere ribbon to pieces of translucent fabric that fl ow around the base dress.

Three photos of a young woman wearing a white dress with black linear elements cascading down

Sewed ribbon in rows down the dress to create a ripple effect, tight at the top, loose at the bottom.

An illustration of two pink dresses next to a photo of two young women wearing the garments

Focused on pattern and depth by layering striped tulle over a tie-dyed base top and skirt. I sewed yarn over tulle to create repeating lines, experimented with rubber bands to dye sleeves.

Two photos of a green water-drop shaped sculpture with elements carved into it

Wanted to depict flowers and succulents taking over the form, and experiment with different textures. I used a pen cap and other ceramic tools to stamp texture, covered inside and openings with 3D flowers.

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