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Shahrina

Hello, I am Shahrina, a senior in high school. I reside and attend school in Queens, New York. I have been raised in a very diverse section of Queens, a place I came to fall in love with. This is my third and final year as a Youth Insights participant here at the Whitney.

Many of my hobbies and interests have changed or modified throughout the two years I have spent in this program. But one interest remains constant, and that is archaeology. It is my belief that in order to better understand the present, one has to study the past first; and what better way to do that than through hands-on experience? I have developed a great love for art by working here. I began to realize that everything around us is somehow related to art, in one way or another. I like to analyze, critique, and understand the works of art, especially those which challenge my views. Some of my other hobbies include drawing, traveling, dancing, and shopping.

The experiences I have acquired during the past two years have changed and shaped my personality to an extent. Now, I can actually go on and on about an artwork, just like museum professionals, without being bored or exhausted. After spending so much time here, this museum has become a second home to me (as “geeky” as it may sound), and I have grown attached to the people who work here. This program has taught me to be a more insightful, sophisticated, and intellectual person, which is why I kept coming back for more.

Working with senior citizens broke down many of the stereotypes I had of them. Shockingly, they are not boring at all, if you take time to listen to what they have to say. Their viewpoints are very dense and historically rich, and in some aspects their views are also primitive. The most important thing I have learned by working with senior citizens, is the fact that nothing is permanent or promised, so we should not waste time doing unimportant things.

Children are vibrant and full of energy. The times I worked with children were really early on Saturday mornings. It would have been unbearable had they not been so enthusiastic and eager to share their insight. Their outlook on life is completely different than those of older people. They see and understand things adults are reluctant or are unable to.

It is difficult for me to choose my favorite artists because there are a few. Two of them are Duane Hanson and Edward Hopper. Hanson’s sculptures are breathtakingly realistic and amazing. The first time I saw his work, I did not know that the lady standing next to me was, in fact, not a lady, she was his artwork. I waited for her to move, obviously she never did. Hopper paints everyday scenes which look realistic at first glance, but actually aren’t. He adds and takes away things according to what he thinks makes the paintings more meaningful, which I think is very clever.

In the coming years I plan to major in archaeology, and hopefully get a PhD along the line. I would like to study abroad for a semester, if possible. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll come back to the Whitney as a professional. That’s what my friends see me doing years from now!