Spotlight on Artist Michelle Qiu
Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature a gouache, colored pencil, and watercolor work made by Michelle Qiu from Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ.
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 concentrations—AP 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. 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.
Here's Michelle's statement on the work:
"For this piece, I depicted the drastic effects of covid-19 during the coronavirus crisis. I drew the bankrupt Chinese restaurant, stock market, and caution tape to show the bad effects of the virus.
The rest of my portfolio is more personal.My parents' divorce was a pivotal time in my life full of emotional turmoil that ended with newfound happiness and a strengthened mind. My Sustained Investigation explores this journey. Some pieces illustrate personal recollections, while others are metaphorical visualizations of the complex emotions of divorce.
My exploration started with simple depictions of scenes where I synthesize color and image for emotional impact. Other pieces, in contrast, convey emotion by disrupting traditional drawings with unconventional methods that craft compelling metaphors. This shift emerged during the creation of my epiphany piece, when I suddenly ripped my drawing and sewed it together. This spontaneous action led to the realization that “destroying” my piece actually helped to connect it to the complex feelings I had about the divorce. This experience inspired me to revise pieces by painting over them with hurtful words exchanged at the end of the divorce. In creating other pieces, I was able to express a more positive mood by using brighter colors to express a hopeful message. The benefits of divorce are exemplified in some of the work, while others. portray my strengthened mind."
And here are a few more works from Michelle's portfolio:
I ripped pieces out, sewed them together, and collaged text to represent the inevitable split. The thread sewing the ripped up piece symbolizes failed attempts at bringing the family together.
I used a box cutter to cut out my painting, then taped it against a clock to represent moving on.
I drew a halo around my head and me cupping my parents wedding rings to convey my strengthened mind.
I collaged newspapers onto a canvas and painted with complementary colors to depict separation.
Student statements are lightly edited for clarity.