By Elizabeth Paulyn Gosteow (21A01B) and Samyak Jain (21S03A)
‘SHHHHHH! Who is the imposter among us?’ For many, this is the familiar loading screen of the popular game ‘Among Us’. This year, the Year 5 H2 Art students have brought to us an interesting twist on this much-loved game with their 2020 ‘Among Art’ art showcase.
The art showcase is an annual themed event where Year 5 Art students exhibit the work they created throughout the year, from individual journals to large installations.
In any other year, the showcase would have been held in the art room, where all are invited to observe the displays up close for an entire day. However, the students have cleverly adapted the showcase into the digital medium where viewers get to explore the many rooms aboard a spaceship—who knew the art room was so expansive? Moreover, the content will always be available online for them to check it out anytime.
So why choose an Among Us themed showcase? According to Art student Evangelyn Tan (21S03A), “The idea first emerged from the game’s recent popularity, but was found to parallel many characteristics of our art batch. The concept of the game mirrors our art-making process, in that along the way, there are many tasks to complete and struggles to go through, and we have to function as a team (or as crewmates) by bouncing ideas off each other and helping each other out. Moreover, the layout of the spaceship in Among Us bears a striking resemblance to the art room’s.”
The exhibition has a fittingly themed narrative: 10 crewmates, representing the Art students, are launching off in a voyage to the moon on a spaceship, their flight path inspired by Apollo 13.
In the days leading up to the showcase launch on 27th November, the official Instagram account @amongart2020 posted daily artist introductions, which aimed to familiarise the audience with the batch’s individual profiles. We learnt their favourite art styles, mediums and got a glimpse of their artworks.
And finally, it was time for BLAST OFF! On stage one of launch day, the website was up and open for all desktop users! What meets the eyes upon entering the website is a large bird’s eye view of a spaceship with many rooms, set against a starry black background of space. Inside the humongous spaceship are playful parodies of the game’s official rooms, such as the launchpad being transformed into an artist profile room. The other rooms are themed according to different art tasks the students have received throughout 2020.
In stage one of the launch, only a select few of the rooms were unlocked. In the span of a week between stage one and stage two, the @amongart2020 Instagram was buzzing with activity again. This time, each Art student posted an artwork which showed endearing slices of life of Among Us crewmates, consistent with the showcase’s storyline of crewmates heading to the moon.
Without further ado, let’s begin completing our tasks on this mysterious spaceship!
We start off with the main room where each student has showcased approximately eight to ten pages of their journals. The journals document raw, personal processes and ideation for different tasks. The journals also serve as a way for students to record their obsessions, and therefore identify their interests for ‘A’ Level coursework the following year.
Through this we are able to get a glimpse of the thorough thought processes that inspire their artwork. Generally, us viewers only see the final product in all its colour and glory, but the many pencil scribblings and menagerie of notes in the journals remind us that art is not a linear process. Rather, there are intricate explorations and in-depth understandings that students have to gain before embarking on the final piece.
In line with observing the students’ interests, we are led to the Mac lab where we can view the book each student has made according to their topic of interest. But the books are far from conventional. Some take on unexpected forms, such as miniature cardboard buildings or a box with layers of paper depicting different layers of skin.
Observing fantastical imaginations, viewers get to go on journeys with different types of catfish and uncover the history of wigs via the books. The students employ varying textures, mediums and sounds to bring their subjects to life. Our inability to experience these artworks in a tactile and physical manner then ceases to be a limitation as the works are so immediate and raw in feeling that they entangle us deliciously in their created universes.
Next up in the map is the clay area, which has nine sections on apple representation tasks. Each section makes visible a different way in which an apple can be represented. For example, apples aren’t limited to being painted in more realistic styles, as seen in the tonal drawings and photorealistic paintings.
Apples can even take on the more expressive hues of different art movement styles, such as Fauvism and Expressionism!
The apple representations are certainly not limited to traditional mediums such as pencil and paints. The experimental photography section is exactly what it sounds like—it exhibits playful ways of snapping shots of apples, be it an apple nestled in the branches of a tree or being rolled around on a photocopier mid-scan.
The installation works lean even more toward non-traditional mediums, including petals, spoons and cork board pins. Who would have thought such everyday items could be made into art? Resourcefulness was surely crucial in the creation of these installations.
If we take our cursor on a little stroll down to the printing room, we are confronted with another art task: the new media artist roleplay. For this task, the students were each assigned to a new media artist. From there, they had to study the artist and create an artwork mimicking the artist’s style. The process consisted of fashioning up some good ol’ Lego prototypes before embarking on the real thing. The mediums get even more creative with this task—a My Little Pony figurine, apple cider pills, a television set…the list goes on. Needless to say, the Art students had fun experimenting with such unconventional materials.
Stopping by the gallery, we can appreciate the collection of “small drawings.” Contrary to their name, these are not miniature drawings but in fact, large scale drawings almost the height of the artist! The name is attributed to the tiny size of the subject matter—walnuts. The Art students have painstakingly etched in charcoal the intricate veins, flesh and ridges on the surfaces of the walnuts to render them captivating. These drawings demonstrate their eye for detail and wonder in finding the hidden worlds in everyday objects. Having spent a long time perfecting their drawings, they have each even named their nutty subject! Nuthaniel, anyone?
But wait, the nuttiness doesn’t stop there—if we head to the coursework room, we find that there is another task on walnuts: this time, not one walnut but 50 representations of walnuts made by each Art student! The task may sound simple—to make use of any mediums the Art students could get their hands on to present the single subject matter in 50 different ways. However, the Art students did not hold themselves back in presenting a staggering variety of art styles and mediums. Not to mention the cheeky representations, including certificates of marriage for walnuts and walnut dating simulators. Who would have imagined walnuts led such rich lives? One would almost feel bad eating them.
Navigating from one room to the other, many of us would be obsessing over the well decorated interior of this art-room-cum-spaceship. However, the Art students want to remind us that art can be found everywhere. In the decontamination room, we find artworks depicting the many markings on our school concrete floor. The sea of monochrome ripples, specks and streaks seem to tell us there is more to the boring concrete that we step on almost every day. The works remind us that each segment of the ground is uniquely weathered by us through our daily interaction with it. With these floor segments growing new marks as more batches pass through our school’s hallowed hallways, the artworks are snapshots of such segments. They function almost like a time capsule to be looked back upon from the future as a representation of the collective Rafflesian experience.
Upon arrival at the escape pod, we see photos documenting the Art students’ Year 5 coursework processes. For Year 5 coursework, they were tasked with creating an artwork on any theme they could imagine. There was only one constraint—the artwork had to incorporate new media somehow, be it in the final product or its processes. Some chose to exhibit their intricate processes while others showcased their finalised artwork. Topics of interest ranged from a love for the sea to solidarity during these uncertain times. Each encapsulating unique aspects of their creators, the coursework projects were emotionally provocative and compelling in equal measure.
A testament to the skill and passion of the Art students, viewers are not just passive observers of the pieces. Instead, the diversity of works evoke visceral responses forcing each viewer to become a participant (a player, if you may) in this showcase.
The annual art showcase aims to demystify art, showing viewers that art is not without its struggles—behind every artwork is a journey rife with hard work, tears and passion which culminates in the vast collection of artworks available for our viewing pleasure.
For prospective Art students, this annual Year 5 art showcase is a perfect way to gain a deeper look into the art making process and have a better understanding of the H2 Art syllabus. For the rest, the showcase is testament to the limitless possibilities that art provides in one’s exploration of interests. With a wide diversity of subject matter and material exploration, the showcase certainly packs a punch and appeals to every kind of viewer.
That being said, the art showcase is an experience not to be forgotten. Don’t miss the next Year 5 art showcase in 2021!