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“Am I As Much As Being Seen?” YI Leaders at the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund

MAY 7, 2013

Youth Insights Leaders Raymond and Adena in front of their photographs at the offices of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Youth Insights Leaders Raymond and Adena in front of their photographs at the offices of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

On April 29, Youth Insights Leaders gathered with friends, family, and Whitney staff at the offices of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund for the opening reception of their photography-based collaboration with artist Fred Wilson. For this special semester-long project, YI Leaders examined what it means to observe and be observed. It was the first time that Wilson and the Leaders had the chance to see the photographs framed and installed in the exhibition space and we took time to admire the results of a semester’s worth of hard work. Teens and artist were visibly excited, pleased, and proud of each other and all that they had accomplished together.

Installation view of the photographs at the offices of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Teachers, parents, and friends of the YI Leaders examine the results of their collaboration with Fred Wilson, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

YI Leader Keyana speaks with two guests about her artwork, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

The crowd mingles at the offices of the Illumination Fund, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

The Whitney’s Director Adam D. Weinberg and Fred Wilson speak to the assembled guests, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Wilson and YI Leader Keyana in front of Keyana’s work, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

YI Leader Ramsey with his family, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Wilson and YI Leaders, triumphant after months of hard work, April 2013 Photograph by Jason Mandella

During the opening, special guests spoke about the project including Laurie M. Tisch, founder of the Illumination Fund, Kathryn Potts, Associate Director and Helena K. Rubinstein Chair of Education, Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney, artist Fred Wilson, and YI Leaders Hannah and Raymond. Wilson spoke at length about his experience working with the Leaders, and his long relationship with the Whitney―referring to his own memories as a teen in Whitney programs! Leaders Raymond and Hannah also reflected on their experience as burgeoning photographers and on the entirety of their time at the Whitney and their participation in multiple Youth Insights programs. Raymond mentioned Wilson’s generosity as he welcomed Leaders to his studio and visited the Whitney in order to join in on a brainstorming session. Hannah talked about the way in which her initial hesitation to work with photography gave way to pride and excitement about her work because of Wilson’s guidance and enthusiasm.


Working so closely on a long-term project with a renowned contemporary artist has been remarkable and unforgettable. Special thanks to Fred Wilson and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund for making such a great experience possible!

By Correna Cohen, Youth Programs Fellow