AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Nathan Celaya

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature a Prismacolor-pencil-on-chipboard work made by Nathan Celaya from Hamilton High School in Chandler, AZ.

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-on-chipboard work made by Nathan Celaya from Hamilton High School in Chandler, AZ.

Color illustration of an anthropomorphic cactus driving a low-ride motorcycle in the desert

Here’s Nathan’s statement on the work:

"The question that guided my sustained investigation was: How can I put a fantastical or exaggerated spin on the variety of sub-cultures that I observe every day in the Southwest through the use of different mediums?

To accomplish this, I used my medium of choice—Prismacolor colored pencils—to achieve different effects. The reflections, textures, and depth I created within the compositions, helped to enhance the cultural importance and cartoonish fantasy, like in this piece that was inspired by motorcycle clubs.  

My works were revised by creating multiple preliminary sketches and by revisiting my guiding question. For one work, a cowboy, I added faux fur and fabric to give it that Wild West look. Further experimentation with ink, collage, and printmaking helped to expand on my artistic abilities and guide me through this process, creating Southwest-inspired compositions."

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

Color illustration of a beat-up cowboy smiling and holding two guns in the desert

This was inspired by classic cowboy films. Prismas and recycled components (faux fur, leather, fabric) glued to chipboard give it a 3D feel.

Illustration of four repeated images of a figure in blue, yellow, pink, and green, in a two-by-two grid

This was inspired by 1970s counterculture. I reprinted images to create an intricate pattern that is duplicated.

Illustrated representation of author hunter s. Thompson, wearing a floppy hat, sunglasses, open Hawaiian shirt, and shorts, counting money while smiling and standing in front of a convertible

This was inspired by the writing of Hunter S. Thompson. Prismas were used to create reflections of light.

Black and white illustration of a cactus walking like a person, wearing a cowboy hat, pants and boots, and saying I wanna be a cowboy baby

This was inspired by Arizona landscapes. Black ink and prismas are used to create contrast.

Color illustration of a young white man, seen from below, wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and beanie cap

This was inspired by fashion photography. Prismas were used to create a sense of depth and perspective.

Illustration of a human figure with a ball of plastic ocean trash for a head gripping a large fish hook

The idea behind this was to create a piece that deals with a social issue, in this case, pollution. It was inspired by the Gorillaz album "Plastic Beach." Recycled materials are used to create a tactile effect.

Student statements are lightly edited for clarity.