AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Miriam Rice

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).

This week we feature an acrylic work made by Miriam Rice from James I. O'Neill High School in Fort Montgomery, New York, which was included in the 2019-20 AP Studio Art online exhibition. (You’ll find the exhibition halfway down the page, under the heading AP Exhibit.)

abstract painting of a female figure in blues, reds, and darker hues

Here’s Miriam’s statement on the work:

What is femininity? This painting plays with contrasting detail in an attempt to define what it means to be a woman. Sharp edges jut out against soft curves (the halter top and the shoulder), complementary colors embolden one another (the orange chair against the dark blue background), and the position of the girl both dares and hides.

When I was little, I tried drawing a cherry with oil pastels. I was frustrated when I used black for the shadow, because when I blended it, it would muddle the other colors. My mother took the black pastel, and pressed purple into my hand. She said to use color to shade, and I haven’t used black since. My objective was not only to use color for shade instead of black, but also for highlight instead of white. I experimented with loosening my brushstroke. Instead of clean lines and smooth blending, I tried to capture movement in imperfect streaks and overlapping color splotches. Because of this style, drawing thumbnails and sketching on the canvas took longer than painting, which took about an hour.  

And here is teacher Patricia Hassler's thoughts on the work:

As Miriam’s teacher, I feel that I had a minor or indirect influence in the creation of this piece. I have had Miriam as an art student for several years, so I know her well. She is very bright, capable and familiar with various styles of art as well as being well versed in drawing and painting techniques. The assignment for this work was to draw or paint a figure from an unusual and foreshortened point of view.  Most of my A.P. assignments have a very loose or open-ended criteria because I want the students to use their own imagination and interests to create their pieces. When I introduced the assignment, I showed students a variety of work done by students to use as examples of solutions to the assignment. The students could work from life or take their own photos to work from and they could also choose their own materials. My only other real condition for the work was that it had to be medium to large size. I helped students in class who had difficulty drawing the figure or working on a large scale. Miriam asked to complete her work at home. I allowed her to because I knew her well and knew she could work on her own and I also could count on her completing her work in a timely manner. Miriam liked to experiment with different styles of art, and I figured she was trying something out. When she showed me her completed work, I knew she had created a strong and beautiful piece. I particularly thought the line work and color choices were outstanding. I knew her experiment had been a success!