Student Artist Honored by the College Board

By Stanislava Kirsanova ‘19

By Stanislava Kirsanova ‘19

Congratulations to Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio student Stanislava Kirsanova ’19, who had a piece of artwork selected by the College Board for inclusion in the 2018–2019 AP Studio Art Exhibit. The exhibit is produced annually and aims to showcase outstanding artwork created by students who submitted portfolios for the AP Studio Art exam. Kirsanova's work was one of just 30 pieces chosen from the more than 60,000 portfolios submitted in the spring of 2018.

All artwork for the 2018–2019 exhibit was selected by a group of high school and college art educators with extensive experience in the AP Studio Art program. According to Wendy Free, the AP Program's Director of Arts Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, "Each work was selected because it represents the extremely high level of rigor, commitment, and accomplishment AP Studio Art students can achieve."  

Kirsanova earned a 5 on her exam, and Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes was very pleased to see her work recognized on a grander scale. “Having one of her pieces selected from the many, many thousands of artworks submitted each year for examination is a rare distinction and a tribute to this young artist’s growing abilities,” he said. “This success is the more remarkable with Stanislava simultaneously following both the AP course and the first year of the IB Visual Arts program.”

Gifted Artist Heading to Edinburgh to Study Illustration

Yu Ying Chan ’18 (China) was accepted to all five schools she applied to—University of Edinburgh, Kingston University London, University for the Creative Arts, University of Brighton, and University of the Arts London—and the promising young artist has decided to study Illustration at the University of Edinburgh. She is grateful to the TASIS college counselors for helping her achieve such outstanding results. “They helped me a lot with my personal statement and guided me through every step of the process,” she said.

In the art studio she has been a consistently gentle and graceful presence, displaying an extraordinary capacity for patience unequaled by her peers.”

– Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes

Fluent in Chinese and English, Yu Ying finished her three years at TASIS with a 3.88 GPA, scored a 4 on the Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus exam, captured a perfect 5 on both the Studio Art: 2-D Design Portfolio and the Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio AP exams, and excelled in the Higher-Level Visual Arts International Baccalaureate (IB) course. Her dedication to and artistry in a number of disciplines earned her The Excellence in Art Award at the Class of 2018’s Commencement Ceremony.

“I have taught this year's recipient for three years and had the privilege of watching her grow and thrive,” said Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes when he presented the award. “In the art studio she has been a consistently gentle and graceful presence, displaying an extraordinary capacity for patience unequaled by her peers. As an accomplished young artist her artwork is quite simply exceptional, and it therefore comes as no surprise to learn that she has obtained a place to study Illustration in Edinburgh next September.”


Because Yu Ying took advantage of the wide range of artistic disciplines offered at TASIS—including photography, architecture, drawing, and painting—she will be able to skip the foundation year that is often required for art students in the United Kingdom. But to describe her as simply a visual artist would not do justice to the full scope of her talents, for she is also an excellent cello player and an accomplished pianist with an impressive performance record that belies her young age. In her senior year alone, she performed as a piano soloist at the “Music Without Borders: From Bach to Bernstein” concert at Lugano’s beautiful Palazzo dei Congressi Concert Hall and at the TASIS Spring Arts Festival Concert, where she was backed by the renowned Opera Viva Orchestra.

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Yu Ying credits Mr. Dukes, Photography Teacher Kim Nelson, Music Director Samantha Forrest, and Piano Teacher Gloria De Piante Vicin for helping her attain her goals both as a visual and performing artist. “I had Mr. Dukes for all three years and was exposed to so many things in his classes, and I was really inspired by Ms. Nelson’s knowledge of modern photographers and artists and greatly appreciated the support she gave me throughout my senior year,” she said. “I also learned so much from Ms. Gloria over the past three years, and I’m grateful for the opportunity she and Ms. Forrest gave me to work with a professional orchestra. Ms. Forrest was also my first cello teacher and put so much effort into organizing our ensemble class and musical performances.”

Aside from her inspiring teachers, what will Yu Ying miss most about TASIS? “I think it’s going to be the [Ferit Şahenk] Arts Center,” she said. “Not counting my dorm, I spent more time in that building than anywhere else on campus.”

IB Visual Arts Exhibition: More Than What You See

Excerpts from an article by Shu Ye '18
Read the entire post here.

Every year at the beginning of March, TASIS students, teachers, and parents may notice artworks spread out around campus. If they go to the Palestrina, they will even simulate the experience of visiting a museum. These pieces of arts are all created by TASIS IB Visual Arts students. Following the requirements of the IB, these students must select some of their best artworks and arrange them into an exhibition. This final exhibition, in which students must also defend and articulate their purpose and intention in a written rationale, is the culmination of each student artist’s IB Visual Arts (IBVA) experience and accounts for 40 percent of the final grade.

Drawing and Painting, Photography, and Architecture & Design are the three most important media that TASIS IBVA students focus on. Some students may develop their skills in one particular field, but others might provide the viewers a combination of several media, connecting 2-dimensions to 3-dimensions. IB Higher Level (HL) students need to exhibit 8-11 artworks while Standard Level (SL) students need 5-7 artworks. The exhibition has to be well-designed with a theme that can connect ideas and inspirations behind all the works.

Frank Long, the IB Photography teacher, commented on this year’s exhibition: "This year's IBVA Exhibition demonstrated the wide variety of skills and ideas that come from the TASIS IB Visual Arts students. There were issue-based works and more traditional artworks along with a large body of architectural designs and models."

The Architecture & Design teacher, Mr. Mark Aeschliman, said, “This year's IB Visual Arts Exhibition was among the best in years for my six Architecture & Design students. Their models, drawings, and paintings were carefully crafted, selected, defended in writing, and exhibited with care. I especially appreciated everyone helping with the Palestrina setup, which is always stressful. The quality of the work was very high this year.” Mr. Aeschliman and all the other art teachers helped students deliver their artwork to the Palestrina, mount models on pedestals, hang framed and unframed work, attach lights and labels, and then, a mere 62 hours later, take it all down and store it in the Şahenk Fine Arts Center. Mr. Aeschliman and all the other art teachers helped students deliver their artwork to the Palestrina, mount models on pedestals, hang framed and unframed work, attach lights and labels, and then, a mere 62 hours later, take it all down and store it in the Şahenk Fine Arts Center. 

Susan Middleton on Photography, Conservation, and the Natural World


TASIS The American School in Switzerland was honored to host Susan Middleton—an artist, photographer, author, and educator specializing in the portraiture of rare and endangered animals, plants, sites, and cultures—as the fourth and final visitor for this year’s Senior Humanities Program. Ms. Middleton delivered an address to the senior class in the Palmer Center on the March 19, before spending time with all seven TASIS photography classes and two science classes over the course of the next couple of days.

Ms. Middleton shared some of her current projects and examined student work in each photography class offered in the High School, from Photography 1 to IB Visual Arts—including speaking with AP Photography students about selecting and editing images within a larger body of work and providing guidance to Photography 1 students who are currently working on their own personal projects.

“It’s always a pleasure to have a working photographer visit and give students an idea not only about the actual profession and how you can make a living at it but also about how you can incorporate your own artistic vision into everything you do,” said Frank Long, one of TASIS's photography teachers, who has known Ms. Middleton for 20 years and helped orchestrate her visit to campus.

In IB Environmental Systems classes, Ms. Middleton presented more of her photographs of endangered plants and animals, spoke with students about biodiversity and the preservation of environments and ecosystems, explained how her photographs and books underpin her life's work of advocating for preservation and conservation of the environment and world culture, and shared her experiences of working in collaboration with scientists, researchers, and noted photographers on a variety of projects and initiatives.

Ms. Middleton has found time for a variety of teaching experiences throughout her career as a professional photographer, and she enjoys the change of pace that comes from being in the classroom. “I love working with students,” she said. “For me, it’s really regenerative because I learn as much as I give—especially when I get to interact with individual students and hear what’s on their minds and see how they’re responding to what I’m showing them. It’s interesting for me.”

More about Ms. Middleton:
A resident of San Francisco, Ms. Middleton served as Chair of the Department of Photography from 1982–1995 at the California Academy of Sciences, where she is now a research associate. Her most recent book is Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, the Backbone of Life (Abrams, 2014), which she discussed at length in her presentation to the senior class, and her previous books include Evidence of Evolution (Abrams 2009), Archipelago and Remains of a Rainbow (National Geographic), and Witness and Here Today(Chronicle Books). She has also produced numerous films and exhibitions in conjunction with her book projects, including serving as associate producer for the Emmy Award-winning National Geographic film America’s Endangered Species: Don’t Say Goodbye (NBC & PBS, 1998) and producing a short film for the web called "Hermit Crabs!".

Ms. Middleton was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009, and she is also the recipient of an Endangered Species Coalition Champion Award for Education and Outreach and a Bay & Paul Foundation Biodiversity Leadership Award. Her photographs have been exhibited and published throughout the world—both in fine art and natural history contexts—and her work is represented in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art and the National Academy of Sciences.

Photographers Visit Outdoor Exhibition

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Six TASIS IB students visited the outdoor photography exhibition Corona Immagini in the village of Carona near Lugano. The exhibition features the super Macro photography of Ettore Silini alongside the more ethnographic images of Alessandra Meniconzi from Mongolia and Siberia.The images are displayed on alluminum panels affixed to the walls of the buildings in Carona's historic center

TASIS IB Visual Arts students look at the practice of artists and curators in mounting exhibitons, from choosing artworks and arrangement within an exhibition space to assembling a group of artworks that communicate a larger idea to a particular audience.

"It was fun to follow the trail of pictures down the narrow walk street of the village," said Maria Vitoria Mourao Clemente '19. "I found myself looking at the textures of the buildings as well as the photos."

"I found it interesting to consider the connection between the images of insects and the images of the Kazakh Eagle Hunters with this Swiss town," said Bryan Soh '18. "The photographs don't seem to fit exactly, but they are great nonetheless."

"I found it interesting to consider the connection between the images of insects and the images of the Kazakh Eagle Hunters with this Swiss town," said Bryan Soh '18. "The photographs don't seem to fit exactly, but they are great nonetheless."


The exhibition also features the work of several photography students at the local art college, CSIA. The students especially enjoyed Romina Berri's images of the soles of shoes and the terrain they were designed to walk on, and the photographs of Viola Robbiani which show closeups of hands that resemble other body parts and other geography.

"I really enjoyed the pictures of the hands," said Mouna Loueke '19, "and I like the idea of seeing them right on the street of the town. I wanted to stay there and try to figure out how they were shot."

TASIS IB Visual Arts students will be visiting a number of exhibitions at museums and galleries this year, and many of the Year 2 students will spend two days at the Venice Biennale on Academic Travel.

Martyn Dukes Shows at Rhy Art Fair Basel


Mr. Martyn Dukes, Chair of the Fine Arts Department, plunged back into the world of professional Fine Art exhibitions at the beginning of the summer after a number of years absence. His summary of the experience:

Oddly enough, my IB teaching was partly responsible for getting me back into exhibiting: A change of syllabus saw young artists having to write a rationale for their final show, and in effect curating their own shows. As their teacher, this got me thinking about how I used to do the very same thing, as a painter, and little by little, this rekindled my desire to exhibit.

The international art fair in Basel in June was an exciting and hectic week and attracted galleries, artists, and buyers from all over the world. Rhy Art Fair Basel, one of a number of fringe events, was the setting for my showing of paintings from a long running series called Icons. These reflect a fascination with the world of the consumer and explore the enduring and idolized symbols that have grown out of it.

This was a tiring and sometimes stressful return to what is also sometimes a capricious and volatile business. In addition, as one of the warmest Junes on record, there was no air conditioning in the exhibition halls and temperatures were close to 40 °C. There were other changes too, with social media having become the indispensable tool for promoting the artist and their artworks; my clients would more likely buy my work if they felt connected to me in others ways—for example, if they knew which coffee brand I drink...There was, however, good company, with fellow artists from all over the globe spending many hours sitting around in our respective areas, willing the visitors to turn into interested, potential, and then real buyers. There were plenty of jokes and shared commiseration when they didn't.

Was it worth it? Well, yes, it was a great experience. And I’m going to do it again.

Mr. Dukes’ artworks in this show (Icons) can be seen catalogued with other works at