In February, YI Writers had the pleasure of meeting Angie Keefer, the artist in residence for our Spring 2014 program. Keefer is an artist and writer who has an artwork called Fountain in the 2014 Biennial exhibition. At our first meeting, we asked her a series of interview-style questions to get to know her better. She appeared to me to be both serious and introspective, answering our questions with much careful thought, and at one point, vividly describing her apartment as if she was painting with words. After one YI Writer posed the complicated question of “What is love?”, she opened it up to discussion and we all had a chance to analyze the many facets and kinds of loves, using our own experiences as examples. In the following sessions, she continued giving us a complicated theme to unravel and analyze in-depth in group discussions. So far, we have analyzed the themes of love, art, and masks.
We are currently working on an activity inspired by the work of Carrie Mae Weems, an artist who takes photographs of herself in scenes that are meant to tell stories. On March 18, we brought in short stories that were inspired by photographs we took of ourselves, positioned in a scene of our own making. During the session, we read each others’ stories, following Keefer’s advice on peer editing. She suggested that we discuss what we understand and perceive when we read another person’s story instead of offering constructive criticism.
As a high school student who is constantly told to criticize, criticize, criticize when it comes to peer editing, this came as an enormous surprise and I was a bit skeptical of the approach at first. However, I actually found it to be very effective. Instead of having others offer ways they thought my story could be better, they told me what they felt, heard, perceived, and understood when they read it, so that I knew what I had to change for my story to be understood with its intended meaning. It is a method I never thought of using. I joined Youth Insights with the hope of improving my writing and expanding my perspective through other points of view and, so far, it shows promise of doing both. I am definitely looking forward to more of Keefer’s teaching.
By Ashley, Youth Insights Writer