YI and Expanding The Walls – part 2
Sep 10, 2012

teen explaining artwork to others

A teen participant in Expanding The Walls shares the concepts behind their exhibition Illuminations, at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Photograph by Correna Cohen

On July 17, we escaped the humidity in the air-conditioned underbelly of the Studio Museum in Harlem to meet up with the teens from the Expanding The Walls (ETW) program. This was  the second part of our two-part Summer exchange with ETW participants. The students in this program had been using the photographs of Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee as a springboard to create collages, photographs, and writing that eventually culminated in their exhibition. After participating in a few noise-level raising get-to-know-you games we viewed and discussed the ETW teens' work.

  • two teens passing an object

    Introductions were begun by naming and passing a mysterious wire object. Photograph by Correna Cohen

  • facing each other playing a game

    YI and ETW lined up to share information about themselves in an ice breaker that challenged our concentration and memory. Photograph by Correna Cohen

  • observing the artwork together

    In pairs and small groups, teens shared their thoughts on individual works and larger themes in the exhibition that related to individuality, community, and our relationship to nature as city-dwellers. Photograph by Correna Cohen

  • sitting and standing in a group photo

    It was a great afternoon of conversation, art recommendations, and sharing ideas. Photograph by Correna Cohen

Entitled Illuminations, the exhibition features two of each student’s photographs side by side with a James Van Der Zee photograph. Students took photographs that correlated specifically with the idea of reflection and the themes and imagery of Van Der Zee’s work. In the Expanding the Walls program, teens discuss social and political issues as well. They visited us just last Wednesday to check out the social-movement-themed work currently on view at the Whitney in the exhibition Sharon Hayes: There’s So Much I Want To Say To You. Youth Insights and Expanding the Walls teens shared perspectives on the Illuminations exhibition and recommended additional art works to each other that have moved us individually. Our visit to the Studio Museum of Harlem was full of mingling, sharing ideas, and for myself, personally getting to know my home, Harlem, in a more community-conscious way.

by Dalila