AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist SK Steen

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 a watercolor, pen, and ink work made by SK Steen from Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School in Nashville, Tennessee, 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.)

illustration depicting large heads on a blue starred background

Here’s SK’s statement on the work:

In creating this work, I was largely influenced by the Surrealist ideals of accessing the subconscious. I first did watercolor with salt and alcohol to create some random, vibrantly colored shapes. I then started to draw what I saw within these shapes straight from my mind; I ended up with lots of heads, legs, and feet. I then drew in all the tiny circles with a yellow micron, after which I painted in the remaining space with blue ink. I then painted over the yellow circles with gold ink, before adding another layer of blue ink. As far as the meaning of the work is concerned, it could be any number of things; the nature of the piece is that it came from the subconscious, and as such, was not created with a specific goal or message in mind other than that. Something I love about art is that each piece holds a different meaning for every viewer based on their life and experiences despite what the artist intends, and I think this is a piece that truly exhibits that; the meaning of it is fluid, even for myself as the creator.    

And here is teacher Shayna Snider's thoughts on the work:

SK's piece was created after she received a prompt to make an original work of art starting from watercolor blooms. Emphasis and value placed on sketchbook work enabled her to take what began as a haphazard playful start and move it towards something more substantial. She has been conditioned to recognize that quality work can be achieved from scraps if developed with material, technique, and process layers. I had recently shared Windsor Newton Gold Ink with the students, and she used shading techniques learned in my Art II course she took the previous year. As part of the shading techniques lesson, I introduced Micron pens to the students. Also influencing SK's piece was her proximity to the AP Art History curriculum, specifically the surrealism unit. She was taking that course at the same time and had just learned about automatic drawing and use of the subconscious. So this gave her license and the okay to just "see what happened."