Artist Spotlight: Zoe Wood

Working alongside an established professional is easily an aspiration of many young artists. As a senior at Westminster, Zoe Wood has interned for well-known designer George Esquivel and plans on pursuing the fine arts in college. Wood began to develop her artistic personality through the Drawing and Painting courses offered at Westminster. For the past three years, she has studied under Pamela Martinez, an upper school visual arts teacher.
“Drawing and painting is usually just a preliminary course to get students to think about how much they love art drawing and painting,” said Martinez. “In Drawing and Painting, I basically teach the students a variety of skills as well as balance that with having fun with art. In this course, students create between 15 and 20 works of art in 18 weeks.”
While some students choose to focus on other subjects after taking Drawing and Painting, dedicated arts students at Westminster have the opportunity to take a myriad of more advanced courses, including Portfolio: Art and Design and AP Art: Drawing and Painting.
“In the more advanced art courses, the goal is to encourage the students to develop more challenging skills and really get them to think critically and creatively,” said Martinez. “Also, rather than producing a lot of smaller pieces of art like in Drawing and Painting, we want to challenge the students through bigger projects.”
This year, Wood is taking AP Art: Drawing and Painting for the second time since her junior year. In this course, Westminster’s talented young artists explore a multitude of small projects as well as develop a large portfolio of 24 works. “Students can produce anything they want and with anything medium they want with 12 of these pieces to showcase that they are renaissance people,” said Martinez. “Then, the other 12 pieces are known as their concentration.”
The concentration project is an essential element of the AP Art curriculum in which students create a portfolio of 12 works centralized around a broader idea. “The concentration project is unique because each student chooses their own theme and medium for their 12 pieces and then each piece shows their advancement process, which is later graded based on AP standards,” said Wood. “For example, last year I used acrylic paint and graphite, while my friend Matt Peters focused on silicone materials and molds.”
Not only did Wood work arduously on her concentration portfolio, but her idea certainly impressed the arts teachers. “I would probably classify Zoe’s concentration idea as abstraction. Basically, what she did is she drew while looking at a picture of herself,” said Martinez. “However, she didn’t look at the self-portrait until the end, meaning she might end up with her eyes in different places and her nose on top of her eye. Over time, she got much better at drawing blindly and her self-portraits became much more realistic.”
In addition to inspiring her teachers through her concentration, Wood’s classmates and peers also noted that her works excelled. “I think what makes Zoe stand out as an artist is that her works have a dark feel,” said senior Matt Peters, a student in AP Art: Drawing and Painting. “She seems to always incorporate gore in her pieces in some way or another, which is interesting. Even if it’s not directly visible in her work, you still feel creeped out by what she makes even when she uses bright colors.”
While Wood stands out as a young artist at Westminster, she also expanded her interests through an internship at Esquivel Designs, a company founded by designer and southern California local George Esquivel. Wood participated in this internship two years ago with senior Lizzie Portwood.
“I’ve always been interested in fashion, so I was excited when Lizzie and I connected with Esquivel for the internship,” said Wood. “At first, we helped him with research and dug up old magazines for inspiration, and at the end, we actually got to design some shoes too. His business is a smaller man-made business, so we really got to see every single shoe being made and generally his entire designing process from his beginning sketches to the final product.”
Wood’s internship with George Esquivel was made possible through Martinez, who formerly worked alongside Esquivel. “I worked with George Esquivel as his design assistant for nine years,” said Martinez. “Zoe and Lizzie came to me and said that they wanted to do an internship with him two years ago. I think what’s interesting is that this internship wasn’t even an option at Westminster. The girls essentially took initiative and helped create this internship opportunity.”
This semester, Wood focused on developing a portfolio to send to George Washington University, where she applied as an early decision applicant. She hopes to participate in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program and either major or minor in the arts in college. “I have been considering pursuing a career in art,” said Wood. “I would love to have my own gallery one day. I’m also interested in the marketing and designing side of the arts. I would definitely love to do something creative in my career.”
Wood continues to inspire those in the artistic community both inside and outside Westminster through her thought-provoking, intricate works of art. “Zoe truly stands out in many ways as an artist,” said Martinez. “She is very creative, wants to be different, and will do whatever it takes to produce an interesting work of art no matter how long it takes to get there.”