AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Janaya Delone

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a digital media work made by Janaya Delone from Valley View High School in Moreno 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 digital media work made by Janaya Delone from Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, California.

Illustration of seated figure with a broken home for a head watched over by three figures with house heads whose lights are shining on the seated figure

Here’s Janaya’s statement on the work:

“Throughout my sustained investigation, I aimed to explore our reality by depicting it in a visually and psychologically twisted way to create works with a sense of dark fantasy.

“In ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ I wanted to literally ‘shine light’ on the reality between the rich and the poor. Every day we scroll through the media and we see it—videos, photos, and streams of the homeless, the hungry, and the less fortunate. While they are trying to simply make the most of what they have, we just stare at them blankly through a screen, then scroll on to the next video automatically putting money into the pockets of the streamer or media company. The well-to-do publicize the lives of those who are far less fortunate than them without lending a hand.

"Though the image is supposed to illuminate the divide between the well-to-do and the less fortunate, it most powerfully communicates the pressure, shame, and harsh judgment we cast on ‘others’ when they do not live up to the expectations of the fortunate.

“I intended to create an artwork illustrating people with houses for heads from the very beginning. I chose ‘house heads’ to make human identity anonymous as we usually are with the media. And, secondly, to represent another way of showing wealth and power. They are similar to the clothing that we wear. The bright intimidating beams of light that peer through the colorful house's windows are the ever-watchful eye of the media and the rich looking down on the poor who are made the center of attention and benefit little from that attention.”

Black and white process sketch of seated house head illustration

Here’s Janaya’s teacher Michael Bernbaum on Janaya’s work:

“The focus is on sequential visual images and ideas where images grow from images and, ideas grow from ideas.

“The AP studio classroom at Valley View High School is a place that enables students to immerse themselves in the ideas they are exploring while continuing to develop technical skills and facility with materials. Ours is an environment that drives students to become inquisitive, thoughtful, and confident artists. The focus is on sequential visual images and ideas where images grow from images and, ideas grow from ideas. It is a place where students are encouraged to be risk-takers in their practice by striving for greater levels of technical refinement in craft and, more sophisticated levels of problem-solving and critical inquiry.

“Janaya is an exceptional example of the type of artist our AP program strives to encourage and develop. She is an innovative and independent thinker who masterfully crafts digitally illustrated scenes with a whimsical incisiveness that turns the viewer's gaze inside out. Behind the visual humor of her compositions lies a deeper commentary about human nature. The images are surreal commentaries on family dynamics, personal self-worth, gender roles, class inequity, fear, anxiety, and frustration.

“The question I often had when looking at Janaya’s works was ‘Who is looking at who?’ Is the viewer looking in on the illustrated scene or, are the characters peering in on the psychological inner thoughts and behaviors of the viewer? This is what made Janaya’s digitally illustrated compositions so compelling to me as a teacher. While she was insightfully exploring ideas in her work, she was requiring me to explore and engage those ideas through a similar lens. This is the type of student­­–artwork–teacher dialogue that makes experiencing and teaching AP Studio Art and Design so affecting and meaningful.”

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

Black and white process sketch of dinner scene of a man at a table with four dolls as his companions above the completed work

A family always seems as perfect as dolls especially when someone is watching.

Black and white process sketch of a young woman seated in front of a vanity mirror with a crazy reflection staring back at her, next to the completed work

Software used was Firealpaca. Hardware used was an HP laptop and a Wacom Cintq tablet.

Black and white process sketch of an illustration of a mansion and its large front yard, above the completed work

Working day in and day out in hopes of knowing how it feels to live comfortably inside.

Black and white process sketch of a sad young man eating breakfast, above the completed work

The tiring stress of life spilling into the most important meal of the day.

Black and white process sketch of a large head growing in a field of cabbage, next to the completed work

Growing up in the ways others want and expect of you.

Black and white process sketch of a large spider with a woman's face crawling on a web toward a young woman caught in the web, next to the completed work

Don't be lured in by strangers.

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