Zoe Carson’s Afro-punk AP art installation

Art has always been an important part of senior Zoe Carson’s school life, and she is most known for her work which focuses on her African-American and Chinese heritage.

Last year, Carson took AP 2D Art, taught by Pamela Martinez, as a junior. While she described the class as “kind of hard,” she said that having senior role models and people who had already taken the course was helpful.

“The workload is really hard. A lot of people underestimate AP art being a real class, but truthfully it was one of my hardest classes by the amount of the work I had to do inside and outside of the class,” said Carson. “It was hard, but it was worth the results in the end.”

“You have to make 24 pieces in one year,” said Martinez. “They’re making one piece approximately every week and a half. They’re working anywhere between four and six hours a week extra outside of class. So it’s a decent amount of work.”

Despite the rigor of the course, Carson was able to finish her installation at the art show. Her entire installation had the concept of an Afro-punk kitchen. The afro-punk pieces that she did in her concentration, which are 12 works of art usually made over 12 to 14 weeks for an AP portfolio, were set up in a way that made them emulate an actual kitchen.

“When you went to her installation, she had portraits and it made it seem like there was her family and that all her loved ones were present,” said Martinez. “Then you saw next to it was a knife or you saw a spoon, but they were all painted. It really made it feel like that it was a kitchen that you were entering, or a kitchen that referenced someone’s home or their family.”

Carson’s uses paint or marks in a way that you can see them, and her art is not like hyperrealism.

“Really bright colors, that’s my style of painting people in general,” said Carson. “But I like expanding past that, so I like doing some abstract art as well. I like doing portraiture. But I’m still experimenting with different things.”

Carson mainly uses watercolor and acrylics for painting, and usually does 2D art, while also incorporating everyday objects. She tries to include her own background of being African-American and Chinese and has lately been working on Asian and Japanese art.

One of Carson’s most notable pieces is her work on a frying pan, which was a highlight of her installation. The assignment given to her was to paint on three unconventional objects.

“I saw this frying pan that was so beat-up; it was like kind of cool looking,” said Carson. “It was interesting because it was on a 3D surface. It was one of my best pieces, people say, because it was so interesting that it was in a frying pan.”

After creating this first piece, Zoe was able to go into the direction which helped her create a kitchen solely through her unique Afro-punk pieces.

“I taught Zoe how to do a very specific portrait technique, and she picked it up very quickly,” said Martinez.

The end result of the piece was an Afro-punk style portrait of a woman. While the frying pan stood out in her installation, Carson also mentioned other notable pieces, which included a painting of a girl with curly hair, freckles, and rainbow under-circle eyes on a tree slab of wood which she made into a stool.

Zoe’s passion for art has allowed her to have new experiences outside of school.

“I work at the High Museum right now, as part of the Teen Team,” said Carson.

The Teen Team is a paid art internship for students around Atlanta which Carson applied to. Through the internship, Carson curated her own exhibition and plays a part in planning teen nights at the High Museum. Carson has had her art in the museum about four or five times through the school’s exhibition, and she has won a few scholastic awards and the visual arts award last year for Westminster.

When asked about discovering her passion for art, Carson noted her other interests as a roadblock to her current passion. Before focusing on art, Carson used to play tennis and thought that tennis was what she wanted to do, but her artwork required a lot of time.

“Around junior year, which was extremely hard, art was kind of my coping way out, so I was in that art studio almost every day,” said Carson. “When you are surrounded by people who also love what they’re doing, it kind of drives you to do that too. The other students also push me forward.”