With Acrylic and Denim, Seniors Philip Li and Zixuan Zhang Head to Art School

For students going to art school, AP Studio with visual arts teacher Kearci Thompson is the perfect place to be. Students going to art school such as seniors Philip Li and Zixuan Zhang are able to focus on developing artistic ability and creating portfolios, according to Thompson.

Both Li and Zhang have been part of Portola High’s art program since freshman year, allowing Thompson to see their skills progress. 

“They have dedicated countless hours to practicing honing their skills, and they show a mastery of different materials,” Thompson said. “Their dedication to their work and all the hours that go into it, as well as coming up with fun, unique ideas make it so that I can look at their piece and know that only these artists could make this.”

Li is headed to Rhode Island School of Design this fall. He said he always enjoyed drawing since he was young, eventually deciding to pursue art in higher education after taking AP Art History his sophomore year. 

“I like experiencing different styles since I don’t have a stable medium,” Li said. “I’ve used charcoal, made illustrations using acrylic. I’ve done installations. I’ve made pen drawings as well as other different mediums. I especially enjoy creating contrast and making messy drawings.”

Li’s application to RISD consisted of various art pieces, including concept art, environmental design and creature art, according to Li. 

“During the making of the portfolio, you need to show what your understanding of art is,” Li said. “Show everything about yourself, not just your technical skills but also your imagination and your ideas.”

Li said he plans on exploring and improving his artistry in media such as painting at RISD, as the school does not offer any major concentrations for the first year. He eventually plans on majoring in illustration.

Instead of going to art school for two dimensional art like Li, Zhang is headed to Parsons School of Design for fashion design. Zhang said she first became interested after modeling in her youth. 

“I always saw the designers design different styles of clothing, which made me really want to try fashion design as my major,” Zhang said.

Many of the clothing pieces Zhang created for her Parsons application involve denim, inspired by sustainable fashion and her family.

“As an immigrant student, I wanted to create a denim project using secondhand denim I collected, a fabric also rooted in American culture,” Zhang said. “I have six younger brothers and sisters, so I have a lot of old and small clothes. I thought of using my collection of old denim clothes from the whole family to splice them together.”

Although Zhang said she intends on majoring in fashion design and wants to be involved with fashion as a career, she also intends on continuing art as a personal hobby.