AP ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: SUMNER WOOLDRIDGE
Art is the subject in which I feel most confident. I have attempted almost every art available to me, and out of all of them, drawing is my favorite way to tell stories.
Middle school was a very tumultuous time for me, with more changes and new discoveries than I could keep track of, so I felt very lost and alone. I found myself escaping into stories and projecting my thoughts and feelings onto book, stage, and screen characters because it was easier to imagine fictional people having to deal with my problems than to face them myself. I was very into Star Trek for a little while, and it was during this phase that I discovered the comics of Annabel Doyle, who authored a collection of parodies of the original TV series. I had not had much previous interaction with the world of cartooning beyond some vintage DC comic books my brothers and I shared as kids, and I felt like Doyle had introduced me to a whole new world of storytelling. I fell in love. I found that writing comics was an easy and creative way to cope with the small and large frustrations of everyday life.
My work last year consists of the bones of a graphic novel in which my protagonist, Eli, is convinced that his neighbor is involved in a global conspiracy. The comic is wordless and deals with paranoia and mental illness, as well as the danger of baseless conjecture. My portfolio this year is inspired by the songs of Neil Cicierega. One of the most influential early internet personalities, Cicierega is responsible for the dadaist animation style called “animutations,” the YouTube video series “Potter Puppet Pals,” and countless creative mashups of popular songs in his “Mouth” series, among other things. Under the name “Lemon Demon,” he has put out several albums of original music, the longest of which is “Spirit Phone.” All the songs on this album are based on Wikipedia articles, so if you spend as much time on Genius Lyrics as I do, they can be quite educational. By illustrating some of these unique songs, I gave myself another opportunity to tell stories through representative tableaus instead of cartoon panels.
Sumner’s illustrations are smart and well thought out expressions of the way she views the world. Her vignettes remind us of classic comic books while her realistic works are intrinsically tastefully related to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or Coppola’s The Conversation.
- Juan Negroni, AP Studio Art Teacher