A group of high school students in Courtney Alan’s Advanced Placement Studio Art class spent a day connecting with professional artist Alyssa Monks and drawing inspiration from her work. During their field trip to Forum Gallery in New York City on Oct. 15, the students – who have been brainstorming ideas and starting their own concentrations – viewed Monks’ work and discussed her journey as a professional artist.
“We have been talking about how to come up with a theme, how to create a body of work that is cohesive visually and conceptually and how artists’ ideas evolve,” Alan said. “This was a pivotal time for my students to hear Alyssa’s message, as they are about to embark on an investigation of their chosen theme. Her message was inspiring, as she encouraged them to stay true to their own aesthetic, stalk curiosity, ask a lot of questions and connect to others.”
Over the course of the school year, the students will be creating a thesis of 12 works, which will encourage them to think like an artist, solve problems and invent. During their discussion, Monks reminded the students that art is a challenging subject that is as much about the process as it is about the final product.
"Hearing the personal stories and background from the artist helped me understand where her artwork came from,” senior Shelby Mitchell said. “I connected to her work more after hearing about the meaning behind it. I liked the techniques and how she works in Photoshop ahead of time to edit. Most people might not realize how complicated her process is.”
After her artist talk, Monks answered questions from the students about her process, her path to success, challenges she faces and how she comes up with new ideas for work. Senior Lauren Lee said she was inspired by Monks’ discipline and was motivated to seek out art in her high school art career.
“The way [Monks] painted and used color was very inspiring for what I want to show in my current work,” senior Vance Wood said. “The concept of transparency is very interesting to me and I would like to incorporate that into my paintings. I was inspired to look into other artists working with dual imagery and layering and have some new ideas of how my work can grow.”
Following their visit to Forum Gallery, the students visited Phillips auction house to view modern and contemporary works before they were auctioned off. They also viewed exhibits at other galleries, including Marlbourough Gallery, which displayed current work by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
“The field trip gave me and my AP Studio classmates the chance to see the potential that you can achieve, given the opportunity of the AP concentration,” senior Celia Kelty said. “This course gives us the freedom to explore topics, media and aesthetics of our own choosing, just like an actual artist has the capability of doing. Alyssa Monks’ continuation of a similar theme throughout her pieces especially helped us visualize what our collections could transform and evolve into by the end of the year."