At the March 20 Chagrin Falls Board of Education meeting, 2D Art Teacher Jill Eisert and four of her talented AP art students showcased their exceptional work from their AP portfolios that were accepted into the prestigious Ohio Governor's Art Exhibition. This statewide exhibition celebrates the artistic talents of Ohio's high school students and the quality of art instruction in the state.

Eisert expressed pride in her "amazing and committed group of AP artists" who consistently pushed themselves creatively. Five Chagrin students had eight pieces accepted into the top 300 works in the exhibition, which is on display at the Ohio Department of Education in Columbus. 

The students spoke about the concepts and processes behind their compelling artwork. 

Anna Baker's artistic concept revolved around exploring the interactions between inanimate, lifeless objects and the chaotic, emotional essence of humanity. In many of her pieces, she intentionally created stark, still life domestic scenes and then injected them with imperfections and disorder - those qualities she feels define the human experience.  One notable work involved a photo shoot she conducted in her own bathroom. The foreground featured a composed, presentable version of herself, while the background contained a concealed figure engulfed in erupting flames. The creation process was extensive - beginning with the staged photography, then digitally compositing the two figures, translating that to a hand-drawn sketch, applying a vivid neon pink acrylic underpainting to make the skin tones pop, and finally, rendering the detailed oil painting on top. Though the background flames were not originally planned, she decided that element was crucial to infusing a sense of frenzy and pandemonium into the otherwise mundane setting.


Isabel Nerpouni's artwork stemmed from a desire to experience original ideas and explore alternative perspectives, while still maintaining a sense of familiarity and comfort. Her pieces invited the viewer to find relief from the mundane through incredible acts of discovery.

One of her works was a multi-layered shadow box construction. Each layer began as an individual piece, but felt incomplete on its own. By cutting away portions of the foreground layer, it allowed the background layers to be revealed through the negative spaces. On the suggestion of Mrs. Eisert, Isabel decided to encase the layers into a shadow box format. The final piece depicts a frenzied, overlapping array of forms and figures in the background meant to symbolize the chaotic inner workings of the mind. This visual busyness contrasts with the single standing figure in the foreground, representing the outer facade of composure shielding the turmoil underneath.


Clara Ives' portfolio explored the experiences and sensations of growth, maturation, and the inevitable passage of time that pulls us along whether we want it or not. Her pieces grappled with the unstoppable forces of change. One of her works featured the imposing, rigid architecture of a cathedral rendered in shades of purple. Ives wanted to capture the feeling of finding oneself suddenly an adult, burdened with responsibilities, expectations, and a fear of not measuring up to one's own perceived strength. The cathedral's stern visage symbolized the sense of being watched and judged during this transition. She experimented with stark black-and-white contrasts as well as brighter, bolder color palettes before settling on the muted, somber tones she felt best conveyed the uneasy atmosphere.

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Kaz Kanieski's portfolio primarily focused on depicting the battle between optimism and pessimism, as well as exploring themes of deception, evil, and the darker aspects of the real world. However, Kanieski aimed to represent these heavy, serious topics in an exaggerated, comedic way in order to lighten the mood and make the subject matter more accessible to viewers.  For his skateboard piece specifically, Kanieski concentrated on the relationship and interplay between light and dark - both literally in terms of contrasting tones, but also conceptually examining the tensions between opposing forces. He employed layering techniques, varied and complex line work, intricate shading, and a densely detailed composition that becomes more puzzling the deeper one tries to analyze every element occurring simultaneously within the frame.  Kanieski’s work was juried into the top 25 in the state of Ohio.

artAndrew Brackett was not present, but Eisert explained how his art explored the conflict between urban development and nature through mixed media pieces. He questioned how environments could be altered to convey this conflict, as well as how to represent the eventual reclamation of the planet by nature following humanity's reign. To investigate these concepts, Andrew created a series of mock-ups combining photography and drawings to depict the interactions between natural and urban environments. He then utilized a process called sublimation, working with Mr. Kimball in the Innovation Center. Sublimation allows drawings and photographs to be dyed directly onto specialized drawing papers of Andrew's choosing.


Board member Lori Bendall inquired about the intensive AP portfolio process. Eisert explained that students create 5-8 thematically linked projects over the year, with a minimum of 15 slides showcasing their best works. Clara Ives gratefully acknowledged Eisert's invaluable guidance in helping them transform their ideas into cohesive visual expressions.

The Chagrin Falls students' insightful artwork and dedication impressed all in attendance, highlighting the remarkable talents being nurtured in the District's art program. Previous AP portfolios through the years are displayed in the shared hallway at Chagrin Falls Middle/High School.