AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Claire Cochran

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature a Prismacolor-pencil drawing made by Claire Cochran from Highland Park High School in Dallas, TX.

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 a Prismacolor-pencil drawing made by Claire Cochran from Highland Park High School in Dallas, TX.

Illustration of a young black man against a background of words and slogans

Here’s Claire’s statement on the work:

"Shattered. Broken. Bruised. “How do I capture it?” Struggling to piece together the bleeding fragments of their past, to suppress the struggle itself. Turmoil. Emptiness. Hopelessness. “What, then, do I see in them?” Hunted, they learn quickly that survival means invisibility, so invisible they become. Invisible and isolated, silent, until they are touched by radical, transformative grace. “That’s it.”

Such I have seen in my loved ones of Zambia, and such I wish others to see—not simply because I want Americans weeping for the children I love, though I do. And not simply because I want them to grasp the depth of joy these broken vessels and in the mundane, though that I also do. But because I want each child’s full story to be understood, to have a voice. I want these Forgotten Ones to be remembered. I want these Invisible Children to be seen. That was my mission: to capture the essence of the orphaned and vulnerable children of Zambia.

I tested limiting myself to materials they can access (cardboard, charcoal, trash), incorporating unconventional textural elements, replicating elements of the slums (ink fingerprints, torn paper)."

Here are a few more pieces from Claire’s portfolio:

Illustration of a young black woman holding one hand to her face, seen through a circle

This was made using toned tan paper, various mixed papers, Prismacolor colored pencil, micron pen, and embroidery.

Illustration of a young black boy looking up from the bottom right of the frame

This was made using chalk pastel, charcoal, micron pen, and toned paper. I cropped initial drawing to emphasize overwhelming/personal turmoil.

Illustration of a group of young black women smiling as they walk toward the foreground of the frame

This was made using cardboard, charcoal, plastic bag from Zambian slum, gesso, acrylic paint, and glue.

Illustration of a young black boy seemingly tearing through the paper of the illustration

This was made using chalk pastel, toned paper, and ink pad.

Illustration of an elder black woman holding a child against an African-art patterned background

This was made using Citrasolve, cultural African Chitenge fabric, and Prismacolor colored pencil.

Illustration of a woman sitting on the ground, with a bundle of belongings, shielding her face, in front of a building

This was made using watercolor on watercolor paper. I hand-deckled edges to emphasize battered emotions/mimic trash from slum, painted with watercolor.

Student statements are lightly edited for clarity.