AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Sophia Perun

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features a sculpture made by Sophia Perun from Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver British Columbia, Canada.

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 sculpture made by Sophia Perun from Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver British Columbia, Canada.

Sculpture of a face poking through fabric

Here’s Sophia’s statement on the work:

“My piece is called ‘Wrinkle.’ I explored my inquiry question: How do we change as we age, and what do we fear about it? I wanted to express how the skin changes as you get older and wrinkles form. In society, they are considered undesirable and ugly, something to be fixed with aging cream and Botox. I think wrinkles are beautiful in the way that they tell your story, how much you have been happy, or focused or stressed in life. In this piece, the face is emerging from the wrinkle and is trapped behind it. The wrinkled skin is a barrier and pulled taut to eliminate any imperfection or crease. I used house paint to represent the skin. I poured the paint and dried it in a big sheet, then covered the bust and molded the face with heat. From making art this year I learned to not be hesitant or fearful, to instead experiment with materials and ideas. The best work I’ve made has come from taking risks. My art teacher always encourages us to push the creative boundaries and not shy away from the strange.”

Here’s Sophia’s teacher Kory Bogen on Lisa’s work:

“Working with Sophia for the past three years has been so rewarding – she is tenacious, conceptual, articulate, and willing to experiment. She completely understands the importance of revision, creating connections between her artmaking and the real world, and involving the community in her practice. From Sophia, I learned that I need to let go and trust my students; her work is exceptional.

“Sophia surveyed our school staff, asking for responses to her area of inquiry: How do we change as we age, and what do we fear about it? The portfolio was reflective, cohesive, compassionate, and humorous. Creating a survey is a great strategy to involve others in the portfolio, and to gather outside perspectives. Sophia is unafraid to take risks and ask – and respond to – tough questions.  She is supportive of her peers and offers personal and global insight into the discussions we have as an ensemble of artists.

“To start the program, I push my students to experiment first with materials and processes that they are unfamiliar with, and then to incorporate those new ways of working into their wheelhouse of skills. We generate originality in surface, texture, process, and construction in low-stakes experiments that are not assessed.

“Our critiques are structured around ways to include materials and processes that achieve a synthesis of ideas and materials. This approach allows students to present their work and get feedback about achieving synthesis in the portfolio to push them over the edge from looking in from outside to jumping into a framework of how artists truly create works that reflect ideas. I ask students to talk about the work in the same way that they are expected to write about it. This helps to create a universal understanding in the classroom of how to compile the portfolio for submissions. Students also submit multiple written statements and we peer-edit them to gain insight into how others view the work in the portfolio, and to help articulate ideas within the framework of practice, experimentation, revision, and synthesis of ideas and materials.

“A major strength in my program is having a professional roll printer that can reproduce student work.  We document works (and works in progress) and then print out multiple copies on different papers, giving students the opportunity to try a variety of approaches to finishing the work (or taking it further), and to build an image bank that shows multiple examples of revision. Revision is important!”

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

Three views of a red brain-jellyfish-like sculpture

Healthy foam red half brain, Alzheimer skeletal half with string shows vitality and memory loss

Two views of an eyeball sculpture, with one view showing multi-color discs falling from the eye

Many lenses show the many changes and perspectives gained through aging. Lenses clouding vision. Eyeball papier-mâché around a beach ball with glass lenses on stands aligned to show cataract effects.

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