But for senior and AP Studio Art student Angela Qu, this dream was quite the opposite.
Angela’s focus this year was creating detailed illustrations of what diseases and viruses look like under a microscope, showing how, despite their potential for destruction, they can often seem beautiful up close.
Angela spent her entire senior year in AP Studio Art dedicated entirely to a single portfolio that she would submit to the College Board in May for thorough evaluation and grading by highly experienced studio art educators. She spent hundreds of hours in the art room, bent over her numerous pieces, and sat in front of a beautiful view she seldom saw, as she was totally encapsulated by her work.
Angela decided on this subject matter because it was a comfortable middle-ground between many of her interests.
“I’ve always wanted to concentrate my art project on the hidden beauty in our lives,” Angela said. “I also try to find a way to incorporate my interest in math and biology into my art project. In the searching process, I was fascinated by exotic beauty and strangeness of the viruses under the microscope.”
By incorporating various media like charcoal, pastel, and watercolor, Angela was able to depict her subjects from whatever perspectives she saw fit.
Normally, AP Studio Art students will choose more common subjects, like fashion or animals, for example.
But Angela’s focus on these microbes originate from the inherent impact that STEM has had on her life and the path she will take in college and beyond. This impact that these microscopic infectious agents have had on Angela have now only magnified as the world currently battles the global pandemic of the virus COVID-19.
“When Angela chose the AP Art Focus of ‘the beauty of infectious diseases under the microscope’ I never would have thought six months later it would become such a global topic,” Upper Campus art teacher Chia Hersk said. “Before COVID-19 you rarely saw what a disease looked like under the microscope in the media and now that’s all that the world is talking about.”
With classes now taught online until at least early May and both campuses closed, Angela was forced to return home to China where she faced a two-week state mandated quarantine. As her isolation comes to an end, she says very few freedoms returned to her so far.
As is the case with much of the world, most non-essential businesses in China have been closed, nationwide stay-at-home orders are in effect, and public transportation is just about nonexistent. On top of that, Angela finds that her ability to leave her house is dictated entirely by a code assigned to her by the Chinese government, in total control of her actions.
As much as COVID-19 has affected her senior year and could’ve potentially given way to resentment of a year’s worth of work, Angela holds no issue with the subject area that has blown in a cloud of uncertainty to hang over her future.
“The growing infected number and the worsening situation breaks my heart… Meanwhile, I am really happy that I can record this pandemic virus situation with my art in my own way,” Angela said.
Now a permanent installation in her life, these pieces will always serve as a reminder of these uncertain times, allowing her to recall and process them in her own way.
As the May deadline for completing her art portfolio draws near, Angela still has a few more additions before she can consider it complete. Two more detailed drawings of viruses and she will be able to confidently send off a year worth of laborious illustrations to The College Board.
While it still may be a sore subject in her life, these next few depictions of viruses may be able to help Angela through the unforeseeable future.
But as for the purpose of the illustrations she has created, Angela simply hopes to provide people with perspective on just how powerful viruses are, even though they aren’t even visible to the human eye.
“I wouldn’t expect to change people’s opinions on what is going on globally with my art. However, I hope to bring a new perspective to people,” Angela concluded. “I hope my drawings can make people realize the tiny viruses that they can only see clearly through microscopes have the power to change the world. I hope to raise people’s awareness to respect nature.”Share