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In early March, we met a second time with artist Fred Wilson who is working with the Youth Insights Leaders on a photography project. Our photographs will be displayed in an exhibition at the offices of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, and our goal for the day was to think of a unifying theme for which we could all create work. The Leaders spent a good amount of time in the Whitney Studio brainstorming different themes. We met Wilson with four pages of brainstorms on topics ranging from the internet age to angsty teenage insecurities, and he was extremely helpful in the very necessary process of narrowing them down.
After conversing with Wilson about our ideas, we decided to focus on some common themes running through our brainstorm list. The Leaders discovered a shared sentiment. Wilson helped us identify and articulate that feeling: as young people, we lack control over our lives because of restrictions such as parents and age. As a result of our inability to control external factors in our lives, we are highly perceptive and our powers of observation are particularly acute. As the Disney Channel and the series of books Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul continually point out, a major struggle of adolescence is the way we are perceived by others, the way we perceive ourselves, and the way we truly are or truly wish to be. Julia, one of the Leaders, was reminded of a quote from the play, Play by Samuel Beckett that reads: “Am I as much as being seen?”
Through our conversation, we decided with Wilson to keep our project open-ended. The guideline for taking photographs was to keep the Beckett line in mind as our only theme. The freedom that we have to individually shape this project within that theme is especially important because of the diversity of thought present in our group of Leaders. From what I can see of the emerging photographs, we have all interpreted the theme in a unique way.
By Elizabeth, Youth Insights Leader
This is Part Two of our ongoing series of blog posts about our project with Fred Wilson. Read more: