In October 2010, Youth Insights participants experienced an afternoon of glitter, face paint, and other-worldly costumes with artist collective CHERYL. In November, YI Leaders had the opportunity to interview friends, family, and past artists-in-residence in a daylong recording session with StoryCorps. In spring 2011, teens explored the exhibition, Glenn Ligon: AMERICA with the artist and created a collaborative mural with Biennial artists Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz for the Whitney's Community Day in the Meatpacking District.
I’m a senior at Bronx Science. I like running in the rain, biking over bridges, and working in museums. Art is an important window into a period or moment in history. The greatest art is capable of encapsulating some aspect (whether expansive or miniscule) that contextualizes the time in which it was created. Even artists who are ahead of their time speak to us in their opposition to conventional practice (they tell us what “conventional practice” means).
The Whitney’s focus on twentieth-century and contemporary American art is infinitely compelling because it allows readings into both the past and the present. It also allows for exhibitions that range from expansive to incisive. The variety of practices within American art begs close study. If you’ve inferred that I love the Whitney, it’s because I do!
My name is Cesar and I go to the High School for Health Professions and Human Services. I’ve been at the Whitney since October 2008. I have participated in the Contemporary Community, Artist in Residence, Summer Intensive, and YI Leaders programs. I am eighteen years old and I’m one of those people who love to be busy. If I were to describe myself with four adjectives they would be: determined, optimistic, confident, and humble. I am part of the Opportunity Network, an organization that prepares high-achieving high school students for the future through building life-long networks and connections.
I also love drawing, playing soccer, food (I eat anything), dancing, reading, writing, museums, art, architecture, and nature. Next year I will be off to Connecticut College to major in architectural studies and minor in environmental studies. I have two goals that I want to reach: to become a green architect and to open my own restaurant. I have one simple way of thinking about the things that I do and setting myself to accomplish them. What the mind can believe and conceive, the mind can achieve.
I’m Charlotte and I’m a senior at Dalton. I’ve always been interested in the arts. I currently do a lot of modern dance as well as life drawing and painting. English has always been my favorite subject. This is my third year at the Whitney and my second as a YI Leader. I was drawn to YI because I love the Whitney and the arts. I’ve only ever been involved in art by making art myself, and I thought YI would be a great opportunity to get another perspective. For me, one of the best parts of YI has been meeting on Mondays when the Museum is closed! We are able to have the galleries all to ourselves, which is really awesome. YI has gotten me so spoiled that sometimes when I’m at the Whitney on another day, I’m surprised to see other people around. I’ve really enjoyed my time in YI and I'm so sad to be leaving at the end of this year!
My name is Crystal. The first program I did at the Whitney was the Youth Insights Artists program. When I became a YI Leader I was really excited at the thought of leading tours because I knew it would be a way for me to interact with people and help me work on my communication skills. I have been part of Youth Insights since I was a sophomore in high school and have enjoyed every moment of it. This program has truly made a difference in my life.
My name is Eve. I am a senior at Bard High School Early College and lifelong resident of the East Village. I began Youth Insights in tenth grade, where I taught children who lived in a temporary housing facility about the art at the Whitney. This experience taught me how important art can be to everyone, regardless of where they come from. Participating in Youth Insights has taught me not only about the art at the Whitney, but also about the importance of collaboration. I am also really interested in making my own art. I paint, silkscreen, draw, collage, and make installation/performance pieces. Interning at the Whitney has really inspired my work.
My first memory would be an appropriate way to start things off, so let’s just dive right in. All I can recall is tumbling down a grey carpeted staircase surrounded by towering white walls. My parents tell me I was two, and that this incident was the result of a clumsy drop on my father’s part. So I guess I’m just a little bit spacey. Since I can remember (excluding that first memory) I have always been an artist. I’ll draw pretty much anything that’s tangible. It’s not like my life revolves around art or anything, it’s just something that I occasionally sit down and do.
Despite the overwhelming quantity of work I occasionally receive, reading for a long time is a relaxing hobby of mine. A book is an escape from reality, and for me, swapping my world with that of Jack London’s, or George Orwell’s, is always a viable option. My friends and family. These people have always given me their love and affection, they are most responsible for my growth as a person, and for this, they have permanently earned my friendship.
Hi, my name is JiaMei (pronounced like Jamaica without the “ca”). Working at the Whitney has increased my love of art to a level outside of the universe, over the rainbow, and beyond the realm of palpability. I have really learned to appreciate other artists’ art. Before I was a YI Artist, I actually thought museums were strange places that only the elderly with spare time went to. However, the Whitney has completely changed my perception of museums from the inside out. Personally, I realized I love looking at other people’s works more than creating my own. I LOVE seeing artists’ works and saying to myself, wow, this artist is weird. . . I never thought that that could be art. Art, to me, is like a miniscule window into one’s cerebral force—kind of like taking a knife, making a slit into someone’s brain and looking into it. Okay, yeah, that is kind of creepy. Now it makes me feel like I’m a psychopath who loves art because it offers me an alternative to running around and cutting up people’s heads. Art is idiosyncratic to every human being in this world because we all think differently. Art is evidence of human existence.
Going to the Whitney is one the highlights of my week. Art is my life, and one of the biggest inspirations for me as an artist is Youth Insights. Being a part of this program has not only taught me about past and contemporary American artists, but it has shown me that there are different ways to look at art. When we view a work of art in Youth Insights, we look at everything from social and historical significance to the emotions the art evokes, along with the artist's intent and the curator's choices. Looking at art in different ways has made me not only more open to the work of other artists, but also more conscious of my own work. Working with other YI teens has also been a great experience because it has introduced me to diverse people I would never have met outside of the program.
"Sometimes there is so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it. Like my heart is just going to cave in."
This quote is from one of my favorite movies, American Beauty. I have never really been good at writing about myself, so I thought I would begin with a quote that is very close to my heart and that has always made me think. The world has so much beauty in it. No matter what political, social, or economic issues are happening around us, there is always so much beauty to see. One of the many ways that I find beauty in the world is through art.
Hi, I’m Katie and I am a senior at the Spence School in Manhattan. I have a twin brother and come from a very close family. Living in New York City is amazing not only because there are so many engaging and exciting places to visit, but also because there are so many incredible museums. As a self-proclaimed history geek, I do in fact spend my free time in museums. When I am not at a museum, (which is most of the time, I promise), I love to be in the mountains. I first joined YI in my junior year at Spence to gain insight into the American art world. I have taken many art history classes but I had never learned about contemporary American art. I have learned so much about the Whitney’s collection and I am looking forward to continuing my relationship with the Museum throughout the rest of the year.
Hi my name is Octavia and I am seventeen. I attend Gotham Professional Arts Academy and I am in the 11th grade. In school I am studying art history because I love learning all about art. I like to explore and I am most interested in photography. In my own time, I look for colleges I would like to attend after high school because I am a straight A and B student and I never miss assignments or projects.
I have been a part of the Youth Insights Artist Program, the Youth Insights Summer Intensive Program, and now, the Youth Insights Leadership Program. I have fun collaborating with the artists I have met, and also going into the galleries to think about and discuss artwork. I always learn something new.
I am currently a junior at Bard High School Early College. This is my second year participating in the Youth Insights program. I have strong interests in visual art and writing. I have taken drawing, painting, clay sculpting, and welding classes at the Art Students League of New York and photography classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). I have also taken writing courses at New York University during the summer. Currently, I draw, paint, and write in my room with great passion. While drawing or writing, I delve into creating and being in a world of my own. Language and literature also fascinate me. I have had the opportunities to study English, Korean, and Latin American literature, each inviting me to different spaces in which I experience feelings and thoughts that are unique to those cultures. I hope to continue with my explorations in all of these fields.
My name is Shaniece, and I attend Gotham Professional Arts Academy. I am originally from Trinidad, but I moved to the United States in 2005, where I lived in San Bernardino, California before moving to my current home in Brooklyn, New York. Moving to New York really changed my life. I had always loved art and music, but when I moved here, my passion intensified. Art was no longer just something in a museum that was really intriguing, it became my life equation. This past summer I went on an exchange program to Japan, and it really opened my eyes and changed my perspective of the world. It truly inspired me to look at life and art in a new way and exposed me to new types of art. I have really loved being here for the past two and a half years, and it really saddens me that I have to leave when I graduate from high school. Don’t worry though, I have a master plan. I will go off to college, study hard, and when I graduate, I’ll be back!