AP Art & Design Portfolios

In AP Art & Design, students work throughout the semester to create a well rounded Art Portfolio that they may present in a Final AP Art Showcase and submission to the AP Exam Board for college credit. Students must establish inquiry questions, fully develop a concentration, show experimentation, revision and the highest level of art skill.

AP 2D Art & Design

Facilitated by: Ms. Jury

Kat Etheridge


Inquiry: How can I combine abstract and realistic elements to redefine my understanding of self portraits? How can I capture my neurodivergent experiences in my self portraiture ?


When I think of self portraits I immediately think of realism. I began my inquiry wanting to explore how I can push this definition but still feeling very compelled by the obvious display of technique that a realistic portrait portrays. I began my portraiture with an idealized version of myself and my artwork. I researched a variety of portrait styles. Using Adobe Illustrator, I practiced digitizing several of my hand-drawn mandalas to achieve concise lines and uniform shapes. I experimented with filling in the mandala with vibrant colors but ultimately chose a complementary color scheme featuring blue to feature my eyes. In revision, I changed the mandala back to black and white in order to provide more contrast as well as establish the focus on the form. 

I knew that I wanted to merge abstract elements to not only display the physical features of myself but more importantly my experiences. I took the opportunity to think about how I see myself as well as my personal mental and physical struggles. I quickly learned that my struggles with ADHD heavily influence my art and style choices. I often get lost in the minuscule details of what I previously referred to as “meaningless doodles”.  In one piece the pattern continues in general style repetition until it is pushed back by my hand, symbolizing my desire to draw something more realistic and to break out of the two-dimensional pattern, showing similar frustration to that of my failure to live an ordinary life with a pattern and a plan. I practiced drawing hands, distorting mandalas and colored pencil mixing.


My idea of what defines a self-portrait has changed significantly. Although several of my pieces include realistic representations of my physical self I was able to embrace abstract representations of my thoughts, personality, character, and flaws. I came to think of my doodles as “mind maps” that provide insight into my experience as a neurodivergent artist. 

Madi Whalen


Inquiry: How can I show appreciation for the special places in my life who have contributed to who I am? How can I utilize mementos in my art to capture the individuality of each place?


As a senior, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on my childhood, specifically the places and experiences that I hold dear. I choose to investigate how I can show appreciation to these special places through my artwork.  I began accumulating momentos and photos that might inspire my work but after peer feedback I began experimenting with physically incorporating those materials into each individual piece. For example, in Buffalo Point I used photos taken as well as a map and pamphlet I gathered on our trip. Waffle House was created on a real menu from our location. For my English Landing paintings, I made my own paint to use as the base using rocks from the park itself. With each piece I attempt to capture the unique aspects of its place, therefore they are very unique in themselves. Some pieces have input or are signed by the people who I associate the place with.


My inquiry guided me to experiment with materials beyond painting. I researched and practiced techniques that might best represent each place. In Our Place I chose to wood burn a map because I feel that best represented how my neighborhood friends and I viewed the place, and doing it on a piece of wood connects it to the nature of the real place. 


By the end, my investigation led me to the creation of postcards made out to each of my places. This allowed me to show appreciation to each place individually in a “love-letter” of sorts as well as showcase some of my photography as a final thank you to each place. The postcards also create synthesis between all of my pieces by providing the opportunity for individual messages to all of the places in the same format. 

Grace Gasperi

Inquiry: How do I use “weird” imagery to depict uniquely human experiences I observe in my life?


As an autistic person I have always found the complexity of humans fascinating and infuriating. The concept of human nature and my experiences drive me as an artist. I chose to focus on a “weird composition” because America’s idea of comfort needs to be destroyed in order to understand the human animal. My ultimate goal with the mixture of weirdness and the human experience is to make people confront their uncomfort with the very concepts of being a human.

My inquiry required a lot of research into not only the meaning of  “uniquely human” but the concept of weirdness. I concluded that “uncomfortable” and “weird” have many meanings so I decided to explore all I could. After my use of the frame in my first piece, Masculinity, to give a feminine contrast to the piece, I was inspired to continue to use alternative materials to add meaning to my pieces. I experimented with alternative canvases in my next two pieces, Heart on a Silver Platter and You Ruined Me. However, in You Ruined Me the raised texture of the snake scales were highly praised. I then continued 3D elements to create texture and form in Social Graffiti and Meat Suit. 

Beyond simple composition changes, I revised pieces to add depth, character, and realism. The most prevalent example is my piece, Social Graffiti. In this piece I originally made the composition and colors hard and bright making the entire work hard to look at. While that is what I wanted at the time, I eventually revised by collaging a digital version over the original painting to keep the 3D elements. To keep the graffiti notion but not take away from my detailed work I took a wire brush to weather the certain parts that were censored before.

Tristen Tiscareno

Inquiry: How can I depict the people I’ve known in my life through humanistic creatures?


The guiding question I presented to myself is “How can I depict the people I’ve known in my life through humanistic creatures?” I’ve met many creatures in my life. Human creatures who are shaped by poor choices or the poor choices around them. I knew I wanted to depict their stories but the literal circumstances felt secondary and invasive. 

My original statement was how I can depict the personal struggles that are present within my family. I later revised this as I came to a realization that there's so many more stories to tell outside my family that have also affected me.

Feedback from my peers led to revision of how I approach the stories, create lineart and handle color. I’ve tried practicing shading techniques within linework. I experimented with both adding and eliminating color. I’ve worked to make the stories that inspire the creatures more present as per peer feedback. 

For example, my 2nd creature with the female figure was about a man in my life who recently passed away. His death brought about some complicated emotions and confusion. His actions toward our family caused conflicting points of view between the few of us. I decided for the sake of my family to make the figure a female instead, as it portrays how I saw him in my life accurately along with his actions, rather than making a simple distorted male figure. My final 2 pieces are a prime example of synthesis within my investigation, and are examples of what I wish to get across within my works. For both of them I took people from my life and made creatures based on the negative or positive things they deal with within themselves. I don’t wish to create literal references, rather portrayals that represent who they are and their challenges.

Raith Reed

Inquiry: How do I portray the anguish caused by the cycle of dismantled trust I am cemented in?


My initial inquiry was the personal struggle of self reliance. I wanted to continue to depict this consistent struggle and ask myself, “why do I feel the ceaseless need to be self-reliant?” As time went on I began to recognize a cycle within my relationships that consistently ended in my trust being dismantled and how it is a primary source of my struggle of self reliance. Every piece, whether revised or untouched, has developed into a product of that cycle of dismantled trust.


The piece titled “Red Wedding” is what I consider to be my best representation of this question. It is a wedding uniting me and myself surrounded by frames that encase the experiences and memories that have made me who I am. The memories that have accustomed me to relying on myself after being unable to rely on the people who have dismantled my trust. The red in the frames display how each picture, each memory unites those experiences with the red splattered on the grooms-to-be.


My work has reflected my mental state over the course of this year. It has developed from paintings to detailed linework. I have practiced and experimented with multiple media that I have never used before like liquid watercolor, watercolor blended with acrylic paint, ink and charcoal. Many of my pieces started off as acrylic paintings but upon revision I added ink and/or charcoal for added depth and blendability.


I consider myself someone who speaks through my artwork. While I understand that all of my artwork cannot speak for itself without context, I am hopeful that there are pieces that speak to those who understand my work and grasp the meaning of each of my pieces.

Emily Rea

Inquiry: How can I use color and recycled materials to portray the impact of pollution on the ocean?


In 2019, I went on a vacation with my mom to Clearwater, Florida. We visited the local aquarium where I witnessed sea life rehabilitation and research. In that moment I immediately felt a connection to the animals and the ocean. This experience was the beginning of my mission to bring awareness to the impact of pollution on the ocean. 

My original inquiry focused on the struggles of sea turtle lives. I wanted to experiment with  how the world is viewed by a small turtle through varying perspectives. Peer feedback made me recognize that ocean pollution was a common theme in my pieces and discussions. I later revised my inquiry to focus on the impact of pollution on the ocean. I practiced working with new color schemes including a variety of browns, greens, and blues. I experimented with texture and 3D aspects to repurpose the waste. I choose materials that don’t break down easily if not recycled like plastic wrap, netting from produce, dried acrylic paint and styrofoam. 


I found myself in multiple art blocks, wanting to bring light to this man-made problem but not knowing how to portray it. Eventually during my final two pieces I settled into digital art so that I could incorporate hard hitting facts. On top of that I was able to execute more skills digitally than on other physical types of media. When revising my pieces I wanted to include something that would stand out but also incorporate symbolism. I began experimenting with the color neon orange. This color would not only stand out but is a man made color that may represent the man made issue of pollution. I originally found my art to be clean and neat but later revised it with dripping to add a sense of messiness that reflects the messiness of human impact.

Allison Howel

Inquiry: How can I bring light to the negative consequences 

of being a dancer?

Dance has played a critical role in my development not only as a performer but as a person. However, it has not always been for the better. As much as I love the feeling of escaping to a different world through dance, I have also experienced and witnessed many negative consequences. Whether it be distorted body image, injury, anxiety, or mental health issues. I chose to investigate how I can bring light to these negative consequences that are often shadowed by the spotlight. Each piece explores a negative aspect of the dance community that I have either experienced or witnessed first hand. My concept was revised to branch out from just female experiences to the struggles of male dancers as well after interviewing a variety of dancers. I practiced various photography techniques as well as experimenting with mixed media. I experimented with alternative canvases such as a mirror in slide 13 to address negative self image. I revised my piece on slide 9 by using liquid watercolors to make the negative words more apparent. My inquiry has guided me when it comes to the tone of each piece. In my pieces there is a merging of the positive and negative while highlighting the often shadowed negative consequences. Throughout this investigation I have learned that although I love dance I am not alone in my negative experiences.