Spotlight: “Shirley” She Can Draw

By Ingrid Chu and Hongshuai Kang


Senior Yan Hao Chen, also known as Shirley Chen, was recently recognized for her excellent performance on the AP Drawing Exam held in May 2021. Chen received an impressive score of five by each proctor of the exam. She was one of 219 students worldwide to receive a perfect score.


Source by Anna Detke

Shirley celebrates her most recent achievement of getting into the Rhode Island School of Design.


Q: How did you get into art?

Yan Hao Chen: Ever since I was little, I loved art. Although I would draw everyday, I first planned on being a political science major in college, since art seems like an unstable career. Eventually, I dreaded the idea of working everyday sitting in a law firm, and I wanted to do things that would make me truly happy every day, art.


Q: What is your favorite piece or project you have ever done?

YHC: My favorite project is definitely not in my AP Drawing portfolio. It is actually this giant abstract piece that I did outside of school, over the summer. The process of creating that piece was extremely fun and entertaining. I was splashing ink, ripping paper, pouring glue and experimenting with other things everywhere on this giant surface (around 60’’ x 47’’). I used construction blueprints and canvases to create art. I even ended up throwing an old pair of shoes on top of everything.


Q: Can you provide a brief description of what your Sustained Investigation/Selected works were?

YHC: My sustained investigation was kind of generic. I had trouble coming up with a topic, and I was looking through TikToks and a video of someone talking about how much stress they had due to online learning popping up. So, I thought that it would be pretty easy to fill 15 works with this topic.


Q: What was your reaction when you won the Newsday Scholar Artist Award?

YHC: To be honest, I was really surprised. I really didn’t even think that I got a high five, since I believed it was not the best work I could have done. I feel like I got extremely lucky.


“...one of 219 students worldwide to receive a perfect score...”

Q: What are some challenges you faced while creating your portfolio for AP Drawing?

YHC: For me, the biggest challenge was learning how to draw while creating each piece. I did not feel confident in them, and I think that at the time my drawings never came out to be how I envisioned them. I believe that I grew as an artist drastically over the summer compared to in school.


As she continues her passion for art, she’ll paint the next stroke of her life at the Rhode Island School of Design. The New Hyde Park Gladiators wish her the best of luck on her artistic endeavors.