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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

This is Arianna Medina

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Rutherford High School Senior, Arianna Medina, has proven time and time again that she is an extremely talented artist. Her art work has been displayed throughout the hallways of the high school, at the RHS Festival of the Arts, and in a window display at Coccia Realty on Park Avenue in Rutherford. This past May Arianna Medina continued to excel when she received a perfect score on the AP Drawing exam. This is Rutherford had the opportunity to interview Arianna to learn more about her art, her achievements so far, and her goals for the future.

TIR: Your artwork is amazing and has been displayed both at the high school and in the Coccia window on Park Ave. Where do you draw your inspiration?

Arianna Medina: Most of my artwork is inspired by highlighting the duality that exists in different concepts and people. I often take beautiful and elegant imagery and add a dark twist to it, portraying it from a different perspective than it is usually seen. I enjoy creating contrasting visuals and combining clashing concepts and imagery into one painting.

TIR: Which types of art do you most enjoy creating?

AM: I most enjoy making art that explores dark and mysterious concepts and imagery. I often use strong lighting and color palettes to create intense moods and emotions. I also like creating characters and portraying my real-life experiences through fictional stories with fantasy elements.

"I remember the first time I saw her work at the RHS Evening of the Arts and I was completely in awe. I thought our art teachers had brought in a professional to demonstrate and showcase their work. Arianna's talent goes beyond the actual artwork; there is such a depth and a passion to her work that is just breathtaking," explained Supervisor of English and the Arts at RHS, Brian Ersalesi.

TIR: You recently received a perfect score on the AP Drawing exam that you took in May 2023. You were one of only 308 students in the world to earn every point possible on the exam. To what do you attribute this success?

AM: I attribute my success to all the hard work I put into creating my portfolio. Since the day I decided that I wanted to become an artist in the eighth grade, I’ve been practicing art nearly every day. I’ve put in countless hours of practice over the last four years to build up my skill set and eventually be able to draw my ideas as I envision them. Once my AP Drawing class started, I put my full attention on making my portfolio as perfect as possible. I thought about my portfolio every single day and was constantly brainstorming new ideas and concepts, researching, and working on new paintings. I spent 10-20+ hours on each piece and if I made an artwork that I wasn’t proud of, I didn't hesitate to scrap it and make another piece.

TIR: Who have been your mentors on your journey so far?

AM: Since my freshman year of high school, my art teacher, Mrs. Grillo, has greatly influenced my artistic journey. She’s always been willing to help and give feedback on my artwork, as well as encourage me to trust my abilities and enjoy the process of creating.

Ms. Veronica Grillo, Fine Arts Teacher, at Rutherford High School, told TIR, "Arianna is one of the most authentic artists I have ever worked with. Her approach to thinking and making is breathtakingly incredible and the pursuit of great work is ingrained in her purpose. As I have watched her make work for the past four years, one thing is certain - she is never truly satiated, and she does not want to be. Every aspect of her life is approached through the artistic lens. The abundance of creative work and the intrinsic necessity to be a maker has already brought her great success, but she will never be done making. In some ways, when I think about her artistic philosophy, I think about Katsushika Hokusai who wrote the following on his birthday at the age of 75. "From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the shape of things. When I was fifty I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the age of seventy is not worth bothering with...when I am eighty, you will see real a hundred and ten everything I create - a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before."

Rutherford High School Principal, Frank Morano, told TIR, "Arianna is simply amazing! Arianna not only received the top score of 5 on her AP exam, but was also one of only 308 students in the world to earn every point possible on the AP Drawing Exam, receiving the maximum score on each portion of the exam. Her work ethic and dedication to the arts is second to none."

TIR: Now that you are a Senior at RHS, what are you planning/ hoping to do after you graduate?

AS: After I graduate, I plan to go to art school and study illustration. I want to continue working on and improving my artistic skills and hopefully go on to be a successful illustrator.

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