AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Keon Ball

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature a marker and gel pen self-portrait made by Keon Ball from Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory in Miami, Florida.

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 marker and gel pen self-portrait made by Keon Ball from Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory in Miami, Florida.

portrait of a young black man in orange and blue with close-cropped hair, white eyes, and a baggy shirt against a red and purple wall

Here’s Keon’s statement on the work:

"My question is, 'What does it like to feel alone in unsafe your environment?' I chose this question because it relates to me in some ways. My work consists of warm and cool colors, like red and blue. I believe these colors are very contrasting and fit well into this series of pieces. To me, the color red represents life and stability. The cool colors—blue and purple—are used to emphasize depression, self-destruction, and danger to others in my artwork.

"In a few of my pieces, the figures are being watched and have hands reaching out behind them. These pieces depict how you never know if someone might be watching or are plotting to harm. In others, the figures are put in violent situations that can happen to anyone at any time if they are not careful. Some of my work represents depression and the feelings of being conflicted, and in these the figures are alone with their eyes closed. They emphasize the feelings and emotions being alone and unsafe in their environment mentally and physically."

And here are a few other pieces from Keon's portfolio:

blue, white, and brown illustration of a woman cradling a man's head as he lays on the ground

Illustration of two people, with one draping their arm around the other from behind, in a style that looks like a negative image, with the people on a black and red background

Illustration in black, red, and other muted colors, of a police officer holding down a man, kneeling on his back, in front of a house as a woman runs away, grabbing her head, in the foreground

Illustration in muted reds, oranges, and whites of a young man, in blue, holding on to the corner of a structure while standing in front of a porch

Student statements are lightly edited for clarity.