AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Ashley Gallegos

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature a photograph made by Ashley Gallegos from Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 in Oak Lawn, 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 a photograph made by Ashley Gallegos from Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Nighttime photo of a supermarket and taco stand store front with a mural of the Virgin Mary on the left

Here’s Ashley’s statement on the work:

“The essential question I explored in my sustained investigation was based on representing the life of an immigrant in America.

“For this piece, I wanted to photograph a Latino community to showcase how immigrants come to this country and bring their traditions and culture to create communities that allow for a safe space. The locally-owned restaurant represents opportunity and the mural represents being proud of where you come from.

“To achieve this photograph, I experimented with perspectives, lighting, and angels. Since the restaurant and its mural were on a corner, I took multiple photos to find the best spot where both the art mural and the front of the store would be shown.

“The first step of the process in achieving this final piece was deciding which photo of the many photos that I took, looked the strongest keeping in mind the principles of design. Then, I uploaded the photo into Photoshop where I cropped, changed the colors, and manipulated the lighting.

“The art process to create my work involved thinking of concepts, writing out ideas, and sketching compositions. Making art this year has taught me the value of process and planning before a photo. I believe it encourages meaningful art that reflects what the artist cares about.”

Here’s Jennifer Clark, Ashley’s teacher, on the work:

“Ashley’s journey to AP Art and Design started early in her high school career with our foundational art classes and then advanced photography program. These scaffolded classes allowed her to start the portfolio with a strong knowledge of art-making skills and techniques already established. Ashley’s mastery of digital editing allowed for the diversification of imagery within her essential question which evolved throughout the year to take on more of a documentary style. Her maturity and social awareness are displayed through her thoughtful storytelling and contemporary vision of immigration in America. I encouraged all of my students to choose a direction that allowed them to tell their personal stories through self-awareness brainstorming activities. The strong connection allowed for a natural flow for the work to speak for itself while connecting to its viewers.

“While Ashley’s artwork is primarily photography, keeping a sketchbook of thumbnail drawings, planning sketches, multiple editing experiments, and written notes helped her throughout the year. This type of journaling granted her the ability to see various explorations using multiple design principles as well as it allowed her to plan out photos that focused on her artistic vision. While Ashley’s work has a strong personal connection, she was always open to suggestions and experimentation which is so important within the AP Art and Design curriculum. Accepting that an art piece can constantly evolve and grow through dialog and revision was key in producing her high-quality photos. Allowing her pieces to spark different emotions and relevance depending on the viewer’s personal history demonstrates Ashley’s strong and intentional artistic voice.”

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

Photo collage of a young woman sitting on a red couch with words like criminals, deport, illegal, and need to assimilate rendered as overlapping headlines above her

With this photo I wanted to represent hate towards immigrants through negative headlines.

Man mowing a yard

This photo represents the work many immigrants have to do in order to strive in this country.

Still life of religious icons on a white cloth against a white wall

I created a still life of religious artifacts then photographed it to show tradition and religion.

Young woman in traditional Mexican clothing standing in front of a flowing American flag

The idea behind this photo was to represent being proud of your culture in this country. I put my model in traditional Mexican clothing to showcase tradition.

Black and white photo illustration of a young person wearing an American flag blindfold

I edited the American flag over the bandana to show immigrants can be blinded by the American dream.

Photo collage of images of immigrants placed into the outline of the United States map

I took portraits of workers and made a collage to show the hard work many immigrants do.

Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.