AP Art students celebrate year with event

This year, on May 24, AP Art students presented their yearlong investigative portfolios about a topic of their choosing. Over the course of the school year, students worked on 15 pieces of art, plus two during the summer.

Jessica Mohagen, art teacher, enjoys watching students’ artistic capabilities blossom over the course of the year.

“I love the creativity in each and every one of these students,” Mohagen said. “I love to see their vision of how they see the world and how they want to artistically express themselves.”

With strict deadlines, students are encouraged to stay on track, and Mohagen believes that the course pushes students to their artistic limits and breaks barriers in their abilities. 

“Some art pieces will take really quick, and some will take a long time, and you learn your work ethic,” Mohagen said.

AP Art is an opportunity to really dive deep into a specific passion you might have.

— Lola Kahate-Desouza, AP art student

Among the participants is junior Lola Kahate-Desouza who also presented her artwork earlier this year in the “Art at the Atrium” event. Kahate-Desouza launched her artistic journey when she was given a sketchbook and pack of pencils as a birthday present during Covid. 

“When I saw an accelerated growth and I saw that I was getting better, that really motivated me to continue with it,” Kahate-Desouza said.

 Kahate-Desouza’s sustained investigation pieces are primarily done in pastels and paint, focusing on the themes of women, love, and cultural differences. Living in India and the United States, she uses her unique cultural experiences to inform her sustained investigation. 

AP Art is an opportunity to really dive deep into a specific passion you might have, and it forces you to treat art as a serious activity,” Kahate-Desouza said. 

What do [students] want to explore? And how can we do that, and lift ourselves up through art.

— Jessica Mohagen, art teacher

During senior Maya Lofton’s investigation, she described vacillating between different projects before landing on her final theme, exploring the spirituality within the Black diaspora. Lofton says that she has been drawn to art for as long as she can remember. 

“My mom is an art teacher, so I kind of grew up with that all around all the time,” Lofton said.

 Both students experienced the pressure of deadlines throughout the course, and believe that it has helped them grow as artists. 

“It took a lot of my time… but it was worth it,” Lofton said.

 The time Lofton spent allowed her to experiment with different mediums and settle on her favorite: oil painting. 

“A lot of what I did this year was not only just exploring those ideas but really learning different painting techniques,” Lofton said. 

Lofton especially enjoyed playing around with point perspectives. The class inspired her to start working on more art, and most recently, a realistic oil painting of a cake that her grandmother made, using the point perspective techniques she explored in the class. 

No matter a student’s skill level initially, Mohagen says that taking AP Art will be an opportunity to shine. 

“Every artist in this class has taken risks and played a little bit and doubted themselves, but then came out of that and became proud of their work,” Mohagen said. “They can’t hide [their art] anymore [at AP Art Night], so everyone gets to see the magic of what they did.”

For Mohagen, teaching the class is a “surreal” experience.  

“The students get to choose… what they want to dig into. What do they want to ask? What do they want to explore? And how can we do that, and lift ourselves up, and lift each other up, through art?”

“Subconscious” Hannah Pink


“Ascension” Matteo Scardina


“Untitled” Maya Lofton


“Nude Beach” Leah Rodriguez


“Destiny” Kamryn Gayle


“Natraj” Lola Kahate-Desouza