Artists in Residence
Each semester, teens in the Youth Insights (YI) program collaborate with working artists. Get to know some of the YI artists-in-residence here.
Ronny Quevedo works in a variety of mediums including sculpture and drawing. Quevedo’s work was on view in the exhibition Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art, which investigated contemporary art practices that preserve and foreground indigenous American notions of the built environment and natural world. Quevedo deconstructed the rules of popular sports and games with YI Artists. For their final celebration, YI Artists exhibited uniforms and objects from games they developed collaboratively over the semester.
Jorge González’s work draws inspiration from Puerto Rican vernacular traditions, modernist architecture, and Taíno art and cultural expressions. He created a site-specific installation titled Ayacabo Guarocoel for Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art and invited the public to activate the space by engaging in readings for the duration of the exhibition. González led a series of pottery and weaving workshops for YI Introductions to introduce the teens to indigenous artmaking and popular crafts techniques. He also invited his collaborators Alice Chéveres and Francisco González to help him lead Weaving Cosmologies, a drop-in workshop for New York City teens.
Nick Mauss’s artistic practice encompasses drawing, sculpture, performance, and curating. For his first solo exhibition, Nick Mauss: Transmissions, he explored the relationship between modernist ballet and the avant-garde visual arts in New York from the 1930s through the 1950s. In a special session of Open Studio, Mauss invited teens to create dynamic self-portrait photographs using vibrant backdrops and a variety of props. Mauss worked with participants on styling and posture to create a character and tell a story in their photographs.
Badlands Unlimited is a New York-based independent publisher founded by the artist Paul Chan. Their poster New No’s, 2016, was displayed as a wall installation in the exhibition An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017. Badlands Unlimited worked with YI Leaders to create a backdrop that teens were invited to take photographs in front of during Speak Up, Speak Out! A Whitney Teen Summit.
Mecca Vazie Andrews
Mecca Vazie Andrews is a Los Angeles-based instructor, choreographer, and dancer who worked with Laura Owens at her former Los Angeles gallery space, 356 S. Mission Road. YI Leaders participated in a two-part movement workshop that resulted in a community performance in dialogue with the work of Laura Owens.
Zoe Latta is a fashion designer who is part of the design team called Eckhaus Latta with Mike Eckhaus. The duo is known for using unexpected materials, emphasizing texture and tactility in their designs, and for incorporating writing, performance, and video into their practice. Their work was on view at the Whitney in the exhibition Eckhaus Latta: Possessed. In Open Studio, Latta invited teens to make their own fashion creations using recycled and unusual materials.
Zoe Leonard is a New York-based artist who works in sculpture and photography. Her work was on view at the Whitney in Zoe Leonard: Survey, the first large-scale overview of the artist’s work in an American museum. Leonard led a discussion about her work for teens from The Door, The LGBT Center, and the Whitney’s Youth Insights program.
Through documentary film and experimental video art, Ja’Tovia Gary charts how structures of power shape our perceptions around representation, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. Gary’s film An Ecstatic Experience, 2017, was on view in the exhibition An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017. She worked with YI Artists to make experimental films with found 16mm footage. These films were screened at the YI Final Celebration in May 2018.
Shaun Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator. His work explores societal expectations of manhood, specifically thinking about black and brown masculinities. His performance practice is participatory, and he asks players to dwell in discomfort and shift their perspectives. Leonardo worked with YI Leaders to facilitate a performance workshop about memory, trauma, and connectivity during Speak Up, Speak Out! A Whitney Teen Summit.
Laura Owens’s bold, experimental work challenges traditional assumptions about painting, as well as the relationships between art, craft, popular culture, and technology. Her work was on view in a solo exhibition titled Laura Owens. Inspired by her innovative approach to painting and bookmaking, teens experimented with words, colors, and shapes to tell their story and make their own artist book at a special session of Open Studio.
Guadalupe Maravilla creates and choreographs fictionalized rituals that merge his pre-colonial ancestry and autobiography. His work was on view in the exhibition Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art. Maravilla led a special Open Studio where he invited teens to make their own masks using symbols and materials that represent histories important to them.
Stina Puotinen is an artist, educator, and curator from New York. Puotinen led a special Open Studio where she invited teens to create an immersive installation inspired by Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables. She worked with participants to transform the Whitney’s Susan and John Hess Family Theater into a space that represented their own vision of the rural world represented in Wood’s work.
Juan Antonio Olivares
Juan Antonio Olivares’s exhibition at the Whitney, Juan Antonio Olivares: Moléculas, explored fundamental questions about family, loss, and separation. Olivares worked with YI Artists to create drawings and delve into a debate about different definitions of art. He provided a series of prompts every week to encourage students to push the boundaries of their artmaking. During the YI Artists Final Celebration, students presented drawings, photographs, sculptures, and poems created in response to these prompts.
Tom Carpenter is regarded as a leading practitioner of electrophotography, a printing and photocopying technique that works on the basis of electrostatic charges. Carpenter led a special session of Open Studio, where he invited teens to explore the photocopier as a creative tool and experiment with electrophotographic techniques to make self-portraits.
Playwright, director, and performer Sibyl Kempson has presented 12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens, a three-year iterative performance project at the Whitney every solstice and equinox. She explored meditative and mindful practices and unpacked the term “ritual” with YI Artists. Participants created knitted leaves and collages inspired by her practice that were included in Kempson’s December 21, 2017 performance
C. Spencer Yeh
C. Spencer Yeh is an Interdisciplinary artist and musician. He presented Two Workaround Works Around Calder, a visual and auditory piece made in response to sculptures by Alexander Calder. For Open Studio, Yeh invited teens to experiment with composition by creating layered drawings on clear sheets of plastic and projecting them onto a screen.
Susan Cianciolo is a multimedia artist and designer. For the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Cianciolo transformed the Museum’s restaurant, Untitled, into her vision of a communal space. New tapestries and linens, custom uniforms for the wait staff, drawings, collages, performances, and a multicourse dinner were all part of the immersive experience. Cianciolo led a special Open Studio for Teens where she taught them how to embroider pillows.
Ajay Kurian’s Childermass, 2017 stretches from floor to ceiling in the Whitney’s open stairwell, stringing a series of “episodes” into a loose, almost sci-fi narrative of mutual misunderstanding and bodily anxiety. Kurian collaborated with YI Leaders to plan Making Us: Teen Night during the 2017 Whitney Biennial.
Sophia Al-Maria is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. Sophia Al-Maria: Black Friday is her first solo show in the United States. Through video and installation Al-Maria continues her examination of urban and economic development of the Gulf Arab region over the last decades by focusing on the Gulf’s embrace of the shopping mall. Youth Insights worked with Al-Maria to make work inspired by her practice of subverting advertising language with humor.
Born in New York City, photographer Oto Gillen spent more than a year walking its streets to create New York (2015–ongoing), on view in the 2017 Biennial. The series of photographs capture individual residents but also alludes to the larger economic, political, and social forces that entangle them. Views of passersby and close-ups of objects record the intimate, fleeting encounters of daily life at street level, while images of looming skyscrapers convey the city’s vast scale and evolving skyline. Gillen led YI Leaders in a two-part photography workshop where students were encouraged to take photos with their phones of their everyday lives.
James N. Kienitz Wilkins
Reflecting on the intersections of race, class, and technology, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s films take legal systems as a starting point and incorporate formal experimentation with language and performance. His films B-ROLL with Andre (2015) and Mediums (2017) were in the 2017 Biennial Film program. Kienitz Wilkins worked with YI Artists to participate in a multimedia investigation of a “mysterious narrative” using real-world materials. Students presented collaborative videos and ephemera from that investigation at their final celebration.
Leidy Churchman’s paintings combine different styles and experiences in order to explore the complexity of an image and its visibility. His painting Tallest Residential Tower in the Western Hemisphere (2015) was on view in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection. Churchman worked with YI Artists to explore the tenets of mindfulness and dharma art. For their final project, each participant created their own “protector” inspired by Buddhist deities and works from Human Interest.
New York-based artist Willa Nasatir creates photographs inspired by the shifting landscape and individuals who inhabit the city. Her work was on view in her solo exhibition Willa Nasatir. Nasatir worked with YI Artists to experiment with and deconstruct the elements of photography. During their Final Celebration, YI Artists displayed self-portraits and distributed a collective zine made from experimentations with a photocopy machine.
Harlem Samba is a Brazilian percussion ensemble modeled after the samba school baterias of the Rio de Janeiro carnival. The group's members are students, alumni, and friends of the Frederick Douglass Academy, a public high school in Harlem. The ensemble performed and led samba lessons during Summer Delirium: Teen Night, an event inspired by the exhibition Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium.
For the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Rafa Esparza transformed the Museum’s first floor gallery into a rotunda made of adobe bricks. Esparza’s crew made each brick by hand from a combination of clay, horse dung, hay, and water from the Los Angeles River. The artist considers the dynamics involved in the labor of making the bricks an important part of the work. Esparza led a special outdoor teen workshop where he discussed his work and taught participants how to make their own adobe bricks.
Cauleen Smith who trained as a filmmaker, designed elaborately hand-stitched banners on view in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. The banners were created to be used in processions. The hand-sewn words and symbols in Smith’s banners represent issues that are important to her, such as prejudice, racism, and people’s inability to understand one another. Smith led a special Open Studio for Teens where they were encouraged to create their own t-shirt using words, symbols, colors, and patterns that represent something they felt strongly about. She also invited teens to join a procession with her banners for an upcoming film project.
Lele Saveri is a photographer, curator, and co-founder of 8-Ball, an independent non-profit organization that nurtures and supports a community of artists through free, open-access platforms and events. 8-Ball produces self-publishing workshops for teens, with the intention of keeping alive an art form that is being replaced by contemporary technology. Youth Insights teens worked with Saveri to create their own zines.
Raúl de Nieves
Raúl de Nieves works in sculpture and performance. He attributes his art practice to his childhood education in Mexico, where he was taught to sew and crochet. In his work, de Nieves often transforms everyday objects into something more fantastical. His site-specific installation beginning & the end neither & the otherwise betwixt & between the end is the beginning & the end (2017) was on view in the 2017 Biennial. De Nieves explored the themes of collaboration, artist community, and personal histories with YI Artists. During their final celebration, YI Artists presented a multimedia installation and performance that synthesized the various talents and stories each person brought to the group.
Stewart Uoo’s work explores and manipulates various aspects of changing urban environments and shifting human identities. Uoo’s sculpture No Sex, No City: Miranda, 2013 was on view in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection. Leaders worked with Uoo to plan their Halloween Teen Night. Attendees were invited to transform themselves with self-made costumes and makeup in the Hearst Artspace with the artist’s help.
Enriched with ritual, MPA’s performances and installations critically examine behaviors of power in personal and social spaces. She also explores the social and political implications of the body as a site of resistance in her work. YI leaders met with MPA to discuss her exhibition MPA: RED IN VIEW and participate in a movement workshop called the Grid.
Ephraim Asili is a filmmaker, DJ, and traveler whose work focuses on the African diaspora as a cultural force. He was commissioned by the Calder Foundation to produce a film or video in response to an artwork by Alexander Calder. Asili’s film Calder For Peter (2017), was screened at the Whitney in conjunction with the exhibition Calder: Hypermobility. Asili worked with YI Leaders to plan their 2017 Halloween Teen Night.
Baseera Khan is a New York-based conceptual artist who explores the overlap between consumerism and spirituality in her work. She focuses on decolonial histories, practices, and archives as ways to understand the world around her. Youth Insights worked with Khan to discuss the role of prayer in their lives and to create drawings of their hopes and dreams.
Formed during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, Occupy Museums calls attention to economic and social injustice. In 2012, the collective launched Debtfair, an exhibition platform that categorizes artists according to their debts and other financial realities. Occupy Museums led a special Open Studio for Teens where they facilitated a discussion of their work in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and a sketching activity in the galleries.
Jessi Reaves uses an arsenal of found objects, industrial products, fabrics, and foam to create works that challenge the boundary between furniture and sculpture. During the 2017 Whitney Biennial her works were on view throughout the Museum, including its conference rooms. Reaves led a special Open Studio for Teens where she discussed her art practice and facilitated a giant sculpture workshop
Tamara Renée Davidson is a musician, artist, producer, and songwriter. Through her music and ritual practices, she takes on various manifestations of herself that are portrayed as avatars. Davidson developed and participated in shake the stars with your song, a one-day intervention on the Whitney’s fifth-floor Outdoor Terrace. Inspired by the work and process of Carmen Herrera, Davidson also led a special Open Studio for Teens workshop where she collaborated with teens to craft live musical soundscapes and graphic notations using instruments, movement, and painting.
Postcommodity is an interdisciplinary artist collective comprised of Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist. Their video installation, A Very Long Line (2016), was on view in the 2017 Biennial exhibition. The installation focuses on the border between the United States and Mexico, an emotionally and politically charged site that became more contentious through the 2016 election and the beginning of the current presidential administration. The collective led teens in a discussion about their work and facilitated a sketching activity in their video installation.
In her work, Jenny Perlin often combines 16 mm film, video, handwritten text, and drawn images, embracing the technical quirks of analog technologies. Perlin’s film Twilight Arc, 2016 and sound installation Canopy, 2016 were on view in the exhibition Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art 1905–2016. Perlin worked with YI Artists to create films that explore the intersection of language and images.
Jamian Juliano-Villani’s spontaneous and frenetic way of working is reflected in the pulsating energy of her paintings, mashups of images and references the artist collects and researches. Juliano-Villani participated in Open Studio for Teens where she facilitated a workshop in "bad painting." Teens worked in groups to create their own eccentric, collaborative paintings with the artist.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby is a Los Angeles-based artist who makes large-scale, representational work that combines collage, drawing, painting, and printmaking. Her work routinely fuses both Nigerian and American influences and source material, reflecting on contemporary African life (often her family) along with her experience as an expatriate living in the U.S., and the inherent difficulty of navigating these two realms. Crosby facilitated a workshop on photo transfers and collage with YI Leaders.
Mathew Cerletty depicts spaces, scenarios, and objects in his paintings in ways that feel familiar, yet unnerving. His paintings often point to Midwestern or suburban sensibilities using humor to create bizarre yet beautiful landscapes. Cerletty was a guest artist as Open Studio for Teens where he invited NYC teens to create artworks inspired by objects that are important to them but might seem ordinary to everyone else.
Steve McQueen is an artist and filmmaker. McQueen has directed films including Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years a Slave, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2014. For the exhibition Open Plan, McQueen created a newly expanded version of his work End Credits, which presents documents from the FBI file kept on the legendary African-American performer Paul Robeson. McQueen met with YI Leaders to speak about his work.
Elizabeth Jaeger has a continued interest in themes surrounding the domestic sphere and alluding to human presence. Her work was included in Mirror Cells at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Jaeger worked with Youth Insights Leaders to develop an artmaking workshop for Teen Night: Human Interest. She also led a special Open Studio for Teens session on sculpture and invented worlds.
Iva Radivojevic is a Yugoslavian documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn. Her films explore the themes of belonging, migration, and displaced identity. Inspired by the title of exhibiting artist, Laura Poitras's film, My Country, My Country, Radivojevic worked with YI Artists to create short films that explore how they personally experience and understand their country.
Laura Poitras is a filmmaker, journalist, and artist. Laura Poitras: Astro Noise, her first solo museum exhibition, expands on Poitras’s project to document post-9/11 America, engaging visitors in formats outside her non-fiction filmmaking. Her immersive environments invite visitors to interact with the material in strikingly intimate and direct ways. Poitras worked with YI Artists to explore observational filmmaking and create films that recorded an event unfolding in real time. YI Leaders hosted a screening of Poitras’s film CITIZENFOUR exclusively for teens and moderated a Q&A with Poitras after the screening.
Nina Chanel Abney—whose large-scale painting was on view in the Flatlands exhibition—works intuitively. Her brightly colored paintings buzz with energy and often include references from popular culture, the political arena, and art history. YI Artists worked with Abney to create their own original paintings that mash-up two seemingly disparate subjects from contemporary culture, and a collaborative mural with the artist.
Brooklyn-based performance collective, AUNTS, was founded by James Kidd and Rebecca Brooks in 2005 and is currently organized by Laurie Berg and Liliana Dirks-Goodman. AUNTS is both a growing community of artists and a choreographic structure for organizing simultaneous performance and art activities in shared spaces. Leaders worked with AUNTS to learn about their model for curating performance parties. The collaboration resulted in a Halloween Teen event that featured a scavenger hunt, costume-making from unusual materials, tarot card readings, performances on a makeshift catwalk, and a dance party.
Jared Madere lives and works in the Bronx, New York. Madere creates installation-based works with materials such as salt, flowers, food, and plastic tarpaulins, assembled in ways that suggest connections to society, economics, industry, and human emotion. Madere is the founder of Bed-Stuy Love Affair, an artist-run gallery focused on emerging art. The gallery has hosted events in a 1978 RV that Madere painted matte black and equipped with security bars. In fall 2015, YI Leaders met with Madere to explore his solo exhibition, experience the Bed-Stuy Love Affair vehicle, and discuss his path as an artist.
In her video installations, Rachel Rose examines how meaning is created and how moving and still images can be brought together to address concerns such as mortality, history, and the environment. Some of her ideas are conveyed through music, emotion, and rhythm, while others are processed more intellectually. Through this approach, Rose tackles some of the most pressing concerns of today. YI Artists worked with Rose to learn about video art, the history of editing, and the relationship between painting and video. The teens also researched and created their own short, collaborative essay film.
Mexican-born, Brooklyn-based artist Alan Ruiz is interested in the partitions and enclosures of the built environment and how these conditions can determine social hierarchies. His practice includes interventions in art historical, architectural, and institutional spaces, restructuring them as sites of perception. During the semester, YI Artists learned about the work of Frank Stella and formalism, and examined the relationship between architecture and power. The students drew inspiration from the Whitney’s new building and surrounding neighborhood to create site-specific sculptures and performances.
The Wooster Group is a New York-based company of artists who collaborate on works for theater, dance, and video. Experimenting with new media, classical text, and found video footage, the collective aims to create work that reflects America’s ever-evolving culture. In Spring 2015, Youth Insights (YI) I Leaders had the unique opportunity to worked with the Wooster Group on their performance for the Whitney’s dedication ceremony. Following remarks by the First Lady Michelle Obama, YI Leaders the teens joined the Wooster Group on the steps of the building as they sang an ironic folk song honoring the Museum and its surrounding environs and participated . To conclude the event, YI Leaders joined members of the Wooster Company in an unconventional ribbon cutting ceremony.
Dread Scott is a conceptual artist whose work ranges in media and includes painting, photography, video, and performance art. Scott is known for his provocative artwork that draws on historical narratives and challenges contemporary injustices. In May 2015, Scott worked with YI Leaders to create a performance for the Teen Opening event. Scott challenged YI Leaders to use his residency as an opportunity to confront issues facing their generation. Together, they designed an interactive activity titled In Equality in which YI Leaders encouraged unfamiliar teens to hold hands and explore the Whitney together.
Artist Lize Mogel creates a form of “counter-cartography,” that involves looking beyond a map’s surface to uncover the politics of place. In January and February 2015, Mogel worked with YI Leaders to explore mapping and mapmaking in the context of the Whitney’s new site. Inspired by Denis Wood’s book Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas, 2013, in which the artist tracks and maps different things around his neighborhood such as barking dogs and jack-o’ lanterns, each teen chose one item to track (including coffee shops, cobblestones, and doors without doorknobs), and mark on a map of the area.
Since the late 1980s, Yuji Agematsu’s artistic practice has included daily walks through New York City streets, collecting and documenting the myriad of objects, paper scraps, and trash that make up our urban landscape. Agematsu’s work, Walk On A,B,C, was commissioned for the inaugural installation in the Museum’s theater in Spring 2015. In fall 2014, Agematsu worked with Youth Insights Leaders, challenging them to participate in similar meditative walks around the Meatpacking district and collect waste. In December, Leaders visited Agematsu’s studio in DUMBO where they were invited to read his journals and explore his favorite object collections.
Jacolby Satterwhite’s videos explore memory and personal history. They are inspired by his mother’s drawings of invented domestic objects and luxury products that he transforms into three-dimensional architectural images, interacting with them through dance and movement. In the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Satterwhite’s video Reifying Desire 6, 2014 combined these objects and interactions with art historical and science fiction themes. Satterwhite produced a video with YI Artists, using green screens, video cameras, and 3D animation software. He also invited the teens to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to visit his studio and talk about his artistic practice.
Diego Leclery’s work often blurs the lines between everyday activities and performance art. His site-specific performance, Me Playing Civilization for the 2014 Whitney Biennial involved playing the video game Civilization in the Museum’s Sculpture Court every day for the run of the exhibition. Leclery challenged YI Artists to think outside the box and to look at artworks in the exhibition with a critical eye. He also challenged their approach to their own artmaking by asking the group to create over 200 individual drawings in just one hour.
Darren Bader’s work includes surreal sculptures, durational performances, and tongue-in-cheek short films, that tackle questions of philosophical nature, art, and contemporary life. For the 2014 Whitney Biennial, he installed two large, clear donation boxes in the Museum’s Lower Gallery. One read “all donations will go to something,” while the other was labeled “all donations will go to nothing.” Bader gave a brief talk on his ideas about art and asked YI Artists to use everyday objects to create installations in the Whitney Studio.
Writer Angie Keefer is the founder of the online and printed publication, The Serving Library. Her work explores the phenomena of lived life through questions that don’t need solid answers. Keefer’s work in the 2014 Whitney Biennial included a video installation, Fountain, an animation of a waterfall visualizing data in motion from the Dow Industrial commodities futures indexes. Keefer and the YI Writers completed writing prompts and art projects that included a second person writing about an artwork in the Biennial exhibition, a piece written by a fictional character, and a redesign of the question mark, culminating in a collaborative zine.
Julia Heyward takes a close look at the complexity of the multi-faceted self through performance, video, and new media. Her work was on view in Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970-1980. In fall 2013, Heyward worked with YI Artists to explore self-portraiture through in-depth discussions about current Whitney exhibitions, artists’ videos, and her own practice. The teens learned basic film and video editing techniques and created their own video diaries.
Whitney Independent Study program graduate Clifford Owens is a performance artist whose work often challenges the boundaries of personal space and emotions through audience participation. He worked with YI Writers in fall 2013telling them at their first meeting, “Ask me anything, I have nothing to hide!” which prompted the teens to ask personal questions about his life and experiences. Owens challenged the teens to step out of their comfort zones, write scores, and perform about topics such as beauty, misconceptions, and love.
Beginning in spring 2013, Gary Simmons collaborated with YI Leaders on a public art project titled What Are You Waiting For? The teens collected responses to the question “What Are You Waiting For” from their classmates and the larger community. Inspired by a collage-and-transfer technique that Simmons has used, the handwritten scraps of paper were photographed and printed on the large sheets of paper that covered the wall at the downtown site, creating a layered, complex, and sometimes contradictory collection of voices and opinions. In July 2013, Simmons met with the Leaders to install the prints on the wall.
Throughout his career, Fred Wilson has reinterpreted the perspectives and practices of museums and other cultural institutions. He has created his own role within the art world, as a conceptual artist and a curator. In spring 2013 YI Leaders visited Wilson’s studio and participated in a photography-based collaboration with the artist. For this special semester-long project, teens examined what it means to observe and be observed. The project culminated in an exhibition of students’ photographs and a reception at the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund gallery.
Kira Lynn Harris
Kira Lynn Harris focuses on individual subjectivity and formal concerns of space, light, and phenomenology. Harris has a long relationship with the Museum, as a consultant with the Education Department from 1999-2001 and as a 1999 graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program. After visiting the exhibitions Blues for Smoke, where teens saw her work on view, Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective, and American Legends: From Calder to O’Keeffe, and Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, YI Writers created large-scale drawings and short-fiction pieces examining the roles of fashion and stereotypes in their lives.
Dave McKenzie examines how conflicts between public space and private self often reveal social and political aspects of the world in deceptively simple and frequently humorous ways. He often employs modest, every day actions or circumstances as launching points for creating performances, video works, sculpture, and installations. His work was on view in Blues for Smoke. YI Artists worked on a variety of projects that included creating costumes based on an idealized version of themselves and communicating with important people in their lives through letters that became both visual and performative artworks.
Beth Campbell’s work investigates notions of the everyday made strange and unfamiliar by the artist’s hand. Complicating what appears at first glance to be a facsimile of life, she confounds any expectation. Inspired by a series of Campbell's drawings titled My Potential Future Based on Present Circumstances, YI Artists examined their own ideas about the future using a variety of materials. For their final project, they selected personal objects which they were willing to part with and have parted. They sliced and reconfigured their objects into unusual hybrids and installations that question our ideas about the familiar.
Cameron Crawford’s studio practice encompasses sculpture, installation, writing, and artist books. His works often explore situations he determines to be philosophical paradoxes and the tenuous relationship between language and visual art. Crawford gave YI Writers a series of prompts that asked them to respond to works on view in As Apple Pie, Signs and Symbols, and Wade Guyton: OS. YI Writers created scripts and videos that used works of art as characters conversing in a film or that outlined what their ideal museum would be. The only parameter was that no live actors could be seen onscreen.
Latoya Ruby Frazier
LaToya Ruby Frazier’s Biennial 2012 photographs revolve around her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, documenting the artist’s family, and people who have borne the brunt of the town’s social, economic, and environmental decline. YI Artists created photographs that documented their changing neighborhoods, selves, and public spaces in New York City. They examined the effects of advertising on society and the ways that individuals make every day choices. Teens also watched and discussed excerpts from the documentaries Century of the Self and the British series 7 UP to further understand how social class can affect an individual’s future.
K8 Hardy’s Biennial 2012 work draws on the tropes of fashion advertising, combining some of its most recognizable modes—product close-ups, meticulous styling and staging, eye-catching colors—into an abstraction of the genre. Spring 2012 YI Writers worked with Hardy to explore the relationship between visual art and text through the creation of alter egos that they explored through collages, photographs, and a zine. Teens were excited to attend the fashion show that Hardy hosted on May 20 as part of the 2012 Biennial exhibition.
Using sculpture, architecture, installation, and traditional documentary film-making techniques, Corey McCorkle’s practice responds to and acts on its environment. Based on the exhibition SHERRIE LEVINE: MAYHEM, and mid-twentieth-century art movements as entry points, teens worked with McCorkle to produce drawings, schematics, water-colors, and writing that proposed a new location, configuration, and purpose for an eighty-two year-old bridge in Perry County, Kentucky that had recently been deemed “functionally obsolete.” Their ideas included using the bridge as an outdoor park and exhibition space and turning the raw steel of the bridge into large-scale public sculpture.
Dawn Clements creates large-scale drawings that depict interior domestic spaces, either her own surroundings or those in classic 1940s and 1950s Hollywood melodramas. With Clements, YI Writers explored how art can depict both literal and psychological space, and presents narratives without text. Inspired by a visit to Clements’ Greenpoint studio and quotes from Flannery O’Connor, YI Writers explored what it means to successfully convince a reader or a viewer. Teens also made Sumi ink drawings that aligned with their perspective from the floor, to their own bodies, and across the ceiling.
Wardell Milan works in a variety of media, including collage, photography, and drawing, exploring themes of place and identity. He creates highly detailed dioramas with narrative scenes and recurring characters who reflect personal and cultural histories. For Three Defenses, Milan asked YI Artists to reflect on their relationships to objects in their lives while depicting them through photography, painting, and drawing. For another project called I Am a Man. . ., he asked YI Artists to reinterpret the words in Glenn Ligon's painting, Untitled (I am a Man), 1980.
Often interweaving traditional Spanish Baroque imagery with personal subject matter, Angel Otero uses unconventional techniques to create large-scale, dynamic abstractions. Angel's process involves painting, but he challenges painterly conventions by using "oil skins" to build up his surfaces. To create oil skins, Otero pours oil paint on glass, then scrapes it off in sheets when it is dry. Beginning with a studio visit, he invited YI Writers to use the oil skins to make their own art for The Skinny. For And I Quote, Otero encouraged the teens to alter quotes and phrases that held special meanings for them.
Sara VanDerBeek is best known for her semi-abstract photographs which are based primarily on sculptural forms made by the artist herself. The sole purpose of the sculptures is so that they can be photographed in her studio. Afterwards they are immediately dismantled, and the photographs that she has taken provide the only remaining evidence that they ever existed. From memory-inspired assemblages in Collaging Memories to an experiment in casting for Expression Through the Face, Gesture Through the Hand, VanDerBeek led YI Artists through an exploration of material and memory and the ways in which the past can inform the present.
Lize Mogel examines the connections between art and cultural geography. She creates counter-cartography—maps and mappings of locations such as a Los Angeles park and the future of Artic territory—that communicate ideas about social and political issues. She then inserts and distributes her mappings into public spaces and publications. Mogel worked with the YI Writers on Reconstructing New York City to re-map and re-imagine the city. They also created De-tour for the Non-tourist, an alternative tour guide to New York City that challenges established ideas of neighborhoods and streets that are simultaneously familiar and foreign.
Nina Berman is a photojournalist whose work grapples with the issue of contemporary warfare in America. For the 2010 Biennial she showed a series of photographs entitled Marine Wedding that intimately portray moments in the life of Ty Ziegel, a former Marine sergeant who was badly injured in a suicide bombing in Iraq. Berman captured Ziegel’s adjustment to life after returning home from war. She asked YI teens to consider how war impacts their daily lives. They examined how different artists have interpreted and responded to war throughout history and created Interpreting War with images and text.
Aki Sasamoto creates performances and installations that examine the unexpected details of everyday life. For her 2010 Biennial work, Strange Attractors, she combined installation, sculpture, and performance. Inspired by mathematic structures and the possibility of eating doughnuts from the inside out, Sasamoto filled the space with altered found objects and activated it with her improvisational performances. Sasamoto asked YI teens to explore movement and action in different spaces and research performance art. For The Authenticity Project, YI teens created works using performance, found objects, and video, reflecting their own artistic journeys toward self-expression.
Painter Suzanne Bennett has worked closely with artist Roni Horn as her studio manager. In fall 2009, Bennett explored the history of landscape painting with YI Writers, investigating how generations of artists have attempted to represent natural and man-made scenery. The teens created journals with notes, sketches, and collages to record ideas about their daily environments. After viewing and discussing the Roni Horn aka Roni Horn exhibition, teens worked together to compose a large-scale collaborative landscape of New York and beyond.
Christine Kim has been Deaf since birth and communicates using American Sign Language. Her current work involves what she calls 'seismic calligraphy,' in which she creates works on paper using amplified sound vibrations to move objects that have been saturated with paint, ink, and pigments. Related to the exhibition, Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction, Kim encouraged YI Artists to explore how abstract art can capture the essence of specific places. The teens documented the Chinatown neighborhood where Kim lives by taking photographs, recording ambient sounds, and collecting objects. They then produced seismic calligraphy prints using their collected items. Kim also helped the teens to make short films documenting their experimental processes.
2008 Biennial artist Rashawn Griffin uses a variety of materials, such as bed sheets, food, and flora to create large-scale sculptures and paintings, challenging his viewers to recall their own past experience. Griffin worked with YI teens in conjunction with the exhibitions Sites and Artists Making Photographs. The teens explored their ideas of place by photographing sculptural objects that they discovered around them or created themselves using found materials. Over several weeks, they continued to investigate the same idea in different media, creating sculptures, photographs, digital images, and writing about their chosen theme.
Whitney Independent Study Program alumna, Xaviera Simmons combines contemporary media with traditional art forms, encompassing photography, performance, video, and installation. Her works address ideas about constructed memory, idyllic landscape, and community engagement. In fall 2008, explored the exhibition William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 and what it means to be an artist in a community. Simmons instructed YI teens to document the communities with which they identified. Their photographs were compiled into a bound portfolio.
"Art should be inclusive but not easy."
Spencer Finch uses light and color to create artworks that explore specific spaces. Creative Time and Friends of the Highline commissioned Finch to create the first public art project for the June 2009 opening of the Highline. The work, entitled The River That Flows Both Ways, is a study of the colors of the Hudson River. In Summer 2008, using the Whitney as their site and inspired by Finch’s Highline piece, the teens made their own installation from refuse they found around the Museum’s offices, raising concerns about the environment.
Neighborhood Public Radio (NPR)
Broadcast collective Neighborhood Public Radio (NPR) uses portable FM transmitters to air community-based, non-commercial programs. The 2008 Biennial artists take freedom of speech and cultural heterogeneity to make art that parodies commercially-sponsored news organizations. In spring 2008, NPR led hands-on workshops for the YI teens who built radio transmitters, broadcast their own public service announcements, and created "radio plays."
Marina Rosenfeld creates music and performances that challenge conventional visual and audio experience. She invited YI teens to star in her 2008 Biennial performance, Teenage Lontano at the Park Avenue Armory. The performance featured the YI teens as a twenty-piece choir, singing along with iPods and the music that filled the space. In weekly preparation sessions, Rosenfeld engaged the teens in lively discussions about performance, sound art, and her practice.
Mika Tajima’s artistic bridges the gap between painting, sculpture, performance art, and design. She is a member of the artist collective New Humans. For the 2008 Biennial, Mika and New Humans showed Disassociate, a mixed media work that focuses on the idea of collaboration itself. In Spring 2008, Tajima worked in collaboration with YI teens to create a cover design for their sketchbooks that reflected the spirit of the Whitney and the Youth Insights Program.
Painter Jaya Howey has worked extensively with artist Kara Walker as her studio assistant. In Fall 2007, he joined YI teens in heated debates about art as activism and the artist’s responsibility within the community, prompted by the Kara Walker exhibition My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. Jaya invited the teens to his studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to see his works in progress and assisted the group in creating critical visual art responses to the Lawrence Wiener exhibition, As Far as the Eye Can See.