AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Mya Shekitka

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature a drawing made by Mya Shekitka from Floyd E. Kellan High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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).

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. After more than a year of life in a pandemic, AP Art students have risen to the challenge of processing and making sense of the challenges—and opportunities—that have come from this perilous time. The work they submitted in their final portfolios is explicitly of the moment. It’s often challenging and provocative, but always insightful, inspiring, and expansive.

This week we feature a drawing made by Mya Shekitka from Floyd E. Kellan High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Black and illustration of a woman seen from the bottom of her eyes to her mid-chest, set into a gray laptop screen against a background of lilac clocks and calendars

Here’s Mya’s statement on the work:

“My focus this year for my AP Art portfolio was the indirect parallels of time and age.

"It took me a while to find a specific way to display time and age because it is such a complex subject. This piece that I selected was my first ever painting that I had done in my portfolio and I wanted to show the two most essential times of a human's life for my first study, which was childhood and adulthood. The child is the smaller face in the painting showing that it is a small part of our life compared to adulthood but still essential. Underneath the childhood face there's a line almost showing the timeline of one's life. I wanted to represent that time and age go hand in hand when it comes to growing up. As time goes on we grow older and as an outcome we build more knowledge and experience.

“There are many little hidden symbols that are all significant. On the bottom right the phrase "So many choices" are written alone with question marks, meaning In our lifetime there are so many paths and choices that we can take. The bright colors that are especially highlighted around the adult represents the youth that is still present in an adult's life no matter the age. Another major part of this painting is the red clock in the back. While painting this painting I wanted to try and find a way to represent a clock that is a symbol for time in an indirect way. The Face on the clock is showing that we, as humans, are the clock. Not so much controlling time but controlling what we do with the time given. My goal with this piece is to bring the struggles with childhood and the choices that we make as we grow older with time and the lack of youth and brightness that adults still hold.”

Here’s Mya’s teacher Laura Peters on Mya’s work:

“I push for my students to experiment with a variety of materials and techniques while brainstorming for their sustained investigations. Mya always thinks outside the box and dives in to create amazing works of art. We would have mini class critiques that really helped the students look at their work in a different perspective and explore new ideas. Her sketchbook with all her brainstorming and experimented was a beautiful work of art alone. Mya’s sustained investigation focused on the prolonged effects of isolation during covid. The portrait is Mya as an aged woman with several clocks and calendars in the background having the feeling that everyday felt the same and time didn’t matter. She painted the portrait on the backside of plexiglass, the laptop on the front to give the feeling of depth. The clocks and calendars were drawn on a separate sheet of paper with a watercolor wash added.

“However, Maya had another vision when she started her piece. She was going to have her hands typing on the keyboard then, soon realized there was no room to add the hands. She originally wanted to have one clock in the background showing time is frozen, then after many discussions, she decided to add several different clocks and calendars in the background. She struggled with finding the right medium to connect the watercolor paper with the clocks to the plexiglass without leaving a hazy effect. After experimenting with several materials, she used Mod Podge to connect the paper to the backside of the plexiglass to finish her work. I try to emphasize to all my students that practice, mistakes, experimentation, critical thinking, and revision are what make a finished work of art.”

And here are a few other works from Mya’s portfolio:

Painting of a young woman at the bottom of a blue stone hole reaching up toward a shadowy figure at the top of the frame

Girl was painted in gouache, painted stones, added values, and lighting to show depth and movement.

Painting of a young woman painting while being controlled like a puppet by two large arms and hands

An exploration of the dangers of art being used as a method of escapism from responsibility and reality.

Painting of a woman from the shoulders up, looking to the left, in yellows and red against a black and white blocky background

Background drawn in Sharpie, girl was then painted with acrylics and lined with gel pen

Student and teacher statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.