These past few weeks of Youth Insights have been rather insightful to say the least! On March 7, Youth Insights Artists met with artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, who is our artist-in residence from February-June 2012. Frazier’s photographs are featured in the current Biennial exhibition. We had the opportunity to take a good look at the exhibition with the artist and ask her questions about her work. We also gained a deeper understanding of Frazier’s work which spans over a decade of deeply-rooted personal explorations of her childhood and various roles she has assumed throughout her life. Much light was shed on the anguish endured (and almost forgotten) by the residents of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Frazier’s hometown. Braddock was severely impacted by the collapse of the steel industry in the United States. One series of Frazier’s photographs features Braddock residents protesting the demolition of their community hospital and images from a Levi’s advertising campaign that was staged in the town. There is a huge discrepancy between the way Levi’s has represented Braddock as an idealized, industrial landscape and the realities of life in the town. We learned from the artist what the people of Braddock have to say about it.
YI also devoted some time to sharing personal sentiments related to all the participants’ personal histories. We noted how the diversity of all our backgrounds will cause certain opportunities to arise at different times of our lives. I think I can speak for most of the group when I say that we have become more wary of the misleading information that advertisements can communicate. It is powerful to consider the ideas and constructs that advertisements can project.
A big theme for the evening was the exploration of sociological boundaries placed on each one of us due to expectations or systems in our lives and communities. In sharing what made us different, where we came from, and how we see ourselves, we gained insight into how we are part of a social reality that has been collectively constructed. We looked at the ways that social phenomena institutionalize who we are and how we will progress whether we are conscious of it or not. All of us left that evening with a greater respect for one another, bound by our recent introduction into interpreting our world.
by Robert, YI Artist