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AP ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: ELLIE BASS

In my 13 years at ESD, I have grown to love the arts, thanks to countless inspiring teachers and classmates. While I have always loved to draw, I began pursuing this passion in high school, beginning with Intro to Studio Art freshman year and finishing with AP Drawing. Furthermore, as another passion of mine is the well-being of the environment; both of my AP portfolios have been centered around nature and topics meaningful to me.

My Junior year was the first AP art class I enrolled in, and Mrs. Chambliss taught me more than I could have ever hoped for. I centered my concentration that year around the ongoing ocean crisis the world is currently battling. With greenhouse gas emissions increasing and global temperatures on the rise, the ocean is facing major threats. One of its most vital resources, in particular, coral reefs, are at extreme risk due to their sensitivity to even the slightest alterations in their environments, whether it’s an increase in ocean temperatures, acidity, or pollution. When these factors accumulate, a coral reef can no longer function and begins its process of death. The first sign of this gradual degradation is known as coral bleaching, in which a coral calcifies and ejects the microorganisms which give it its means for life as well as its color. What is left of the coral is then a barren, white (“bleached”) structure that is unable to harbor the life dependent on it. Therefore, in an attempt to illustrate this crisis in a vibrant and hopeful way, my pieces aim to reflect the beauty and necessity of coral reefs and their products. 

My senior year portfolio turns away from coral reefs, but it is similar in theme. Just as coral reefs are often overlooked as simple rocks hiding under the blanket of the ocean, species of fungi are often just as forgotten by society, yet they, too, play an integral role in countless ecosystems. The pieces I have made this year, therefore, aim to capture the complexity and importance of fungi among their habitats and highlight the wonder of their existence.

Ellie’s works are lively depictions of nature with hints of abstractions which can be easily associated with her personality. Her dynamic compositions complements her use of color to create a sense and a possibility of movement to establish a strong dialog with the viewer.
- Juan Negroni, AP Studio Art Teacher

Bleached Reef

This is the first piece I completed my junior year in acrylic on canvas, entitled Bleached Reef. Whenever there is a slight alteration in the ocean’s environment, whether it’s an increase in temperature or acidity or pollution, coral reefs begin to “bleach,” which is the first step in their gradual death. The bleached coral calcifies, leaving it white and barren.

Brain Coral Bleach

This is another piece in the coral reef bleaching series, where I focused on the stark contrast of once vibrant coral to its bleached, dying state.

Everyday Pollution

Everyday Pollution is a colored pencil piece also from my junior year, where I focused on the effect of pollution on coral reefs.

Trash Turtle

This is a mixed media piece more about the effect of pollution on wildlife. The watercolor in pen in the background again hints to the bleaching crisis.

An Acidic Ocean

Increasing ocean acidity is another layer of the coral reef bleaching crisis, which is why I layered acidic fruits in the background of this piece. The stingray is oil pastel and the slices of fruit are watercolor, which I pieced together in Photoshop.

Hearts: Expressive Self Portrait

This is a self portrait I also completed junior year. This was a class assignment where we researched the artist John Smolko and did self portraits inspired by his style. My favorite part about this piece is that my face is entirely made of tiny hearts, which I incorporated into the background as well.

Fungi

This is the first piece of my senior year portfolio, where I used pen to highlight the intricate details of mushrooms.

Black and White Turkey Tail Mushrooms

After researching mushrooms, one species particularly stood out to me, turkey tail mushrooms, which often form symbiotic relationships with their surroundings and add to the general function of its ecosystem. This was also done in pen.

LISTEN TO ELLIE'S PRESENTATION OF HER WORK HERE: