Late Nights at the Whitney
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My name is Nancy and I am a sophomore at Hunter High School. I learned about the Youth Insights program through two friends who invited me to the final exhibition at the end of last semester’s program. I was mesmerized by the manipulation of different art forms and materials to create a work that at first glance, seems like it has normal subject matter, but at second glance reveals a little twist. The twist appears out of context, making the viewer wonder, and slowly the viewer unravels a unique plot.
Anything and everything is art after the artist grapples with it. In art class this year, one of the main questions was “How has the definition of art changed?” One slightly bizarre art piece we looked at was Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), which is a urinal on its side (the title was a play on words). He submitted it to an art show that claimed it would accept any piece of art, but after some debate, they decided not to display Duchamp’s “fountain.” At that time, his work was outside the accepted definition of “art,” but over the years that definition has broadened, with fewer restrictions. One of my goals for this program is to explore how contemporary artists are faring with new definitions of art in the artistic community, since I rarely hear about them in my daily life.
Another painting that caught my attention in art class was Surrealist painter Salvador Dali’s Mae West. Mae West was an American actress and sex symbol in the twentieth century, and Dali painted her with features that were like the parts of a room: her hair formed curtains; her eyes were paintings on the wall; her nose was a hearth; and her lips were a sofa. What struck me as especially ingenious, was that later Dali actually made a physical representation of the painting—an actual room with Mae West’s face. How I wish I could see it in real life.
It still makes me think, “wow,” when I think of all the things artists have used to represent their subjects. Through this program, I hope I will be able to explore self-identity through concoctions of art mediums and the integration of writing and art.