Zach Erberich & Shannon Faltys — AP Studio Art Standouts

Minjae Kang, A&E Editor

It’s 7 a.m. and West Ranch opens its gates for period one. Students file into their classes tired from a lack of sleep and dreading another long school day. But two students, carrying large portfolios full of masterpieces, look forward to their early class. Their creativity starts to flow as they open the doors to AP Studio Art.

AP Studio Art, the highest level of art offered at West Ranch, “requires twice the quantity and twice the quality,” according to the course syllabus. The course has prerequisite classes, Art I and Art II, that most of the AP artists have taken. These artists are experienced, and put in hours and hours of work both inside and outside the classroom, striving for perfection.

Under the influence of their own creativity and the instruction of Sally Rush, who teaches Art I, Art II, and AP Studio Art, the AP students create artwork comparable to that of professionals. In class, students master the mediums they are given, the techniques to be used, and let their creativity be their only boundary.

Although the class does have an AP label, AP Studio Art is unlike any other AP class on campus. This course requires rigor, as students essentially start the AP exam from day one; everything the artists create is put into a portfolio and turned in at the end of the second semester to receive a score out of five. Throughout the year, the students are pushed to make every piece better than their last, and students must be independent and diligent as they are allowed to work on anything in any form they want; they pick the mediums to be used, the drawing that they want to make, as well as the canvas they wish to work on.

Despite the fact that most of the artists excel at their craft, two students exhibit passion and talent like no other.

Zachary Erberich and Shannon Faltys are seniors who have discovered their stand-out talent and love for art during their high school careers.
“I’ve always loved art, but I did not start getting passionate about it until AP Studio Art,” said Faltys, who has taken the course since her sophomore year.
“I’ve always loved to doodle and be creative, but not since studio art have I really advanced on it,” said Erberich, who started by taking Art I in his sophomore year.

Since their introduction to art on a high school level, both Erberich and Faltys have discovered their own styles, which is evident in the progression of their pieces. While Faltys prefers paint to make her art stand out, Erberich likes to use “anything pointy” to get detail into his drawings. Both have caught the eye of Rush, who acts as a mentor to the studio art students.
“Shannon is successful in everything she tries, and her sense of composition, form, color, and mark-making are impressive,” said Rush. “Zach has a relentless work ethic and exhibits acute details in his work.”

Even for a person with no art background, a glance at the artworks made by each of the artists reveals the style of their craft. Faltys’ pieces highlight a sense of shade, which is emphasized with her vast array of colors that pop out off of her canvas. The bold use of colors also evokes an electrifying spirit within each work. Her latest work, a pastel piece depicting an array of squash crops, is overlaid by a blue filter, and every detail is made with a different shade of blue. The piece grabs a viewers attention, seeming to embody the spirit of autumn that is coming; the blue-toned squash makes one feel the refreshing nature of the fall season.
“Art has no limits, and it helps us understand the world around us,” she said.

Erberich loves to do realistic pieces, in which he makes drawings that mirror real life situations or structures. One of his pieces, a pencil sketch, centers around a triumphal arch structure, reminding viewers of a structure similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Taking a closer look at this piece, it becomes apparent that every line has thought behind it, and the realist style that Erberich uses makes it hard to notice that the lines are a drawing.
“Art is a way for me to distract myself from the real world problems. I’m in my own world when I work,” he said.
Both artists’ works reflect the time and effort put into each detail.
“I think we put in probably about 20 hours a week,” said Faltys. “It’s really time consuming.”
During these 20 hours, Erberich and Faltys work endlessly to draw, edit, and get as close to perfect as possible, which can, at many times, be a daunting task.

Despite this, these artists’ love for art drives them to not only complete work for the class but their own personal projects as well.
“Recently I created a color pencil piece of a mountain lion, and I’m not used to drawing animals, but it ended up being really successful, even though I completely went out of my box,” she said. “I ended up winning second place at the Congressional Art competition.”

Furthermore, the artists try to feed their insatiable hunger for art by attending conventions outside of West Ranch. Faltys has taken two College of the Canyons courses, and is now taking a course led by Glenn Vilppu, a famous illustrator. Erberich recently attended “National Portfolio Day” to gather suggestions and build a stronger portfolio.

Despite the the tiresome and extra work that goes into being an AP Studio Artist, Erberich and Faltys are driven by their passion, something that can’t be taken away. They both say that AP Studio Art is their favorite class, because of the freedom it allows and the fact that it is different from typical school classes.
“Art to me is a way to express feelings and beliefs, and I always put a bit of me into every piece I make,” said Erberich. “The end product is what drives me, and it it allows me to continuously be passionate about the piece and art itself.”
Faltys added, “You can’t be worried about other people’s judgment, and from there you can just let your creativity lead you.”

As seniors, the two artists are looking ahead and plan to let art be a part of their college experience as well. Within art, there are many different majors, and the artists are still deciding which field they wish to explore. Faltys has a growing interest in product design and illustration, while Erberich became interested in illustration and video game design at “National Portfolio Day.”

Faltys and Erberich acknowledge that art in the real world is a “really competitive and difficult field,” but they are up for the challenge.
“It’s about being crazy with it and having fun,” said Faltys.
“If you are interested in something, never give up,and always pursue that,” said Erberich. “Don’t worry about what other people say.”

Faltys and Erberich are indeed pursuing their unending interest in art, and have a long but exciting journey ahead of them.

“Art is endless because as long as we think, we can make,” said Erberich.