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Photo Critique with Fred Wilson

APR 29, 2013

Fred Wilson and YI Leader Niki discuss Niki’s photographs together at Wilson’s studio, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

Fred Wilson and YI Leader Niki discuss Niki’s photographs together at Wilson’s studio, April 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella

The Youth Insights Leaders have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet and work with contemporary artist Fred Wilson to create artwork for an exhibition hosted and supported by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Our process has involved brainstorming ideas, determining a common theme, shooting photos, and selecting the pictures that appear in our exhibition Am I As Much As Being Seen? 

While the group was given incredible freedom with what we wanted to exhibit and address in our project, we faced the daunting task of deciding exactly which photographs to display in the exhibition. Choices are always good to have, but there were definitely moments that were challenging as we shot numerous rolls of film and digital images. The most helpful moments occurred when we had the chance to meet as a group with the artist, throw around ideas, and expand our own interpretations of the theme. These were all things that we were able to do during our final meeting at Fred Wilson’s studio. 

YI Leaders and Fred Wilson look together at the photographs Leaders have taken as they prepare for their exhibition at the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Photograph by Jason Mandella

YI Leaders and Fred Wilson look together at the photographs Leaders have taken as they prepare for their exhibition at the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Photograph by Jason Mandella

For that meeting, we took all the photographs that we were considering for the exhibition and spread them out across a large table. Our Youth Insights program leaders, Carda and Correna, were joined by Fred Wilson’s studio assistants and colleagues who were eager to help oversee the critique. This presented the first challenge. For any artist or student, subjecting one’s work to the eyes of others is much like giving up an arm. Artists invest so much in their work that it can be difficult to let others see it for the first time. It was easy to feel as though the physical work we presented would be under a scrutinizing lens. We were asked to explain our thought processes and inspirations to the group. I found this a little intimidating because there is often no crystal clear explanation of something that comes from one’s creative vision and imagination. Yet we all explained our visions to this first audience who were supportive, curious, and helpful. Speaking about our work helped us to articulate exactly what we were inspired by and what kind of statement we wanted to make. 

YI Leaders Emiliano and Alex discuss Alex’s photographs with Fred Wilson. Photograph by Jason Mandella

YI Leaders Emiliano and Alex discuss Alex’s photographs with Fred Wilson. Photograph by Jason Mandella

The second challenge was choosing which works would be shown in the exhibition. Of the numerous pictures in front of us, we each needed to pick two final pictures. Wilson helped lead discussions that guided us toward combinations of images that represented our own interpretations of the exhibition theme. By the end of the session, each Leader felt more confident and secure in our picture selections. The images in the exhibition are the result of a process that was expertly guided by Wilson. They also reflect our dedication and tireless efforts to communicate our vision in a way that we hope our audience will appreciate. 

Emiliano, Youth Insights Leader