AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Blake Sabbagh

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature photographs taken by Blake Sabbagh from Agoura High School in Agoura Hills, CA.

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).

In the past, we’ve spotlighted artists who had their work included in AP Art online exhibitions. But starting this week, we’re doing something a bit different. While the AP Art team finalizes the next online exhibition, The Elective will share some of the most engaging pieces created by AP Art students this year—because the art is as urgent as our times.

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. In 2020, there is a lot to process and grapple with—and AP Art students have risen to the challenge. The work many of them submitted in their final portfolios is explicitly of the moment, from commentary on the covid-19 pandemic to the celebration of people of color to the nature of heroism in perilous times.

The work is often challenging and provocative but always insightful, inspiring, and expansive.

This week we feature photographs taken by Blake Sabbagh from Agoura High School in Agoura Hills, CA.

black and white photograph of a burned house and landscape with a damaged child-size car in the center of the frame

Here’s Blake’s statement on the work:

"My concentration represents the devastation of the 2018 Woolsey Fire. I chose this topic to show the effect of real-life natural disasters. I wanted to show the external devastation with landscapes and nature and t internal devastation of how it affected children and adults.

Knowing that 295,000 of my neighbors and myself have been affected, I wanted to show the tragedy of this fire. I am so devastated and shattered by how many people have lost their homes. I originally shot my photos in color, but after analyzing these images I felt that monochrome would have a stronger impact. I used a Nikon D5500 camera with a 18-55mm lens to take the photographs, and with the help of Photoshop CS5 and CC 2017 I was able to bring detail and life into each picture.

black and white photograph of a burned landscape with a pieces of broken baby doll — head, arm, leg — at the center of the frame

My pictures showcase the sadness and depression that the Woolsey fire caused. But transferring this horrible disaster into the photo world, it can be portrayed in a way of hope. Although there were massive amounts of destruction, it allowed for a rebirth of nature, with many new colorful forms of life popped up around a year after the fire."

And here are a few more photos from Blake’s portfolio.

black and white photograph of a burned landscape with the charred remains of a house — a fire place and chimney — at the center of the frame

black and white photograph of a burned landscape with the charred remains of a house — the frame of a table — at the center of the frame

black and white photograph of a burned landscape with a charred tree at the center of the frame

black and white photograph of a row of burned mailboxes

black and white photograph of a burned muddy ground

black and white photograph of hilly and barren landscape

color photograph of a black butterfly with orange-dotted wings perched on a leaf

color photograph of a green field fill of blue-purple lupine plants

Student statements are lightly edited for clarity.