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AP Art Student Earns Prestigious National Recognition

Ava Nordman
Senior Ava Nordman’s art piece “The Microphones” earned them a spot in the AP Art and Design Exhibition that features only 50 artists of the more than 74,000 students who took the AP Art exam last year. Their painting features Nordman’s friend Jonathan Pirrello in his music studio.

Only 50 art pieces from around the world are selected to be featured online for the AP Art and Design Exhibition and senior Ava Nordman’s work is one of them.

“In all the years I have taught AP, I have never had anyone be selected. I’ve even had a person score a perfect score on it, and they weren’t even selected for it,” Melissa Wilson, art teacher, said.

Wilson said the pool of candidates for the AP Art and Design exhibition included any students who took the AP Art and Design exam, which included about 74,000- 75,000 students.

Myles Edgington

Wilson said 15 students took AP Art and Design and normally 90% of her class takes the AP Art and Design exam.

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“It was pretty obvious right away that they were really talented and that they had a really strong eye and technical ability,” Wilson said. “A lot of the time kids don’t necessarily, as juniors, come in and have their artistic voice already developed, but I feel like Ava already did.”

Nordman said they were honored to be chosen.

“Because it’s 50 out of the whole world of people who take AP Art,” Nordman said. “It was exciting, but also a little bit scary because now everyone is just going to be able to see this piece I made.”

Nordman’s painting, the “Microphones,” uses a medium of gouache and acrylic on a masonite panel to depict their friend, Jonathan Pirrello, senior, in his music studio with an assortment of mixing tools, microphones and cables.

Ava Nordman, senior, makes a figure out of metal clay for the Eco-Art show. Metal clay is a medium that will turn metallic after being in a kiln.
(Media by Willem Hummel)

“It’s kinda like a chaotic piece,” Nordman said. “I wanted to have a lot of stuff going on so that there was not one main thing that your eyes were drawn to, so you could look all over the whole thing and there was always something visually interesting to look at.”

Nordman said they try to do a pretty realistic style of art, and when they were painting, they made sure to pay attention to small details, like making sure the knobs on the little mixing boards were on the right setting to make them accurate to real life.

“My theme last year was mundane, boring tasks, and I tried to paint them and capture them in a beautiful way to show that even boring stuff can be visually appealing,” Nordman said.

In the future Nordman said they plan to double major in art and environmental science.

Pirrello said the painting Nordman made was special to him and he has always been impressed with Nordman’s artistic skill and attention to detail.

“There is something kind of special about being painted,” Pirrello said. “It’s a peak into my life, it’s what I do when I am at home and it’s just interesting to see it meticulously painted out.”

Ava Nordman, senior, dresses up as an artist for Career Day in fifth grade. “Everyone deserves to have parents that think they are exceptional,” Valkyrie Nordman, Ava’s mother, said. “Ava’s dad and I have found Ava’s creativity to be inspiring since they were little.” (Media by Tom Nordman)

Valkyrie Nordman, mother of Nordman, said Nordman’s interest in art began in preschool.

“Ava’s art is just so central to the story of Ava. I remember a 2-year-old Ava painting with as much paint on them as on the paper,” Valkyrie said. “On every vacation, we’ve sought out art supply stores and museums, all to encourage that continued exploration. I’m not even sure Ava would remember all those trips and museums, but I have to think they left an impression.”

Valkyrie said it has been fun to see Nordman’s art change and develop over time to the present.

“These days, Ava’s art captures what is most meaningful to them from friends to the natural world,” Valkyrie said “Ava’s style has developed into something uniquely their own and if I saw a painting or sketch of theirs, I would recognize it immediately as theirs.”

This story was originally published on Marquette Messenger on November 27, 2023.