On Wednesday July 11, Youth Insights teens started out the day meeting with other NYC high school students enrolled in Expanding The Walls, a photography-based program at the Studio Museum in Harlem. We played a few name games, and since we are all art-oriented teenagers, the ice was quickly broken. It was very interesting to hear the overlapping aspects of our two programs as well as the differences. Once we had been acquainted, we ventured out of the Youth Insights building and into the Sharon Hayes exhibition Sharon Hayes: There’s So Much I Want to Say to You. Hayes’s work examines free speech, activism, and political outrage through performance, installation, and video. We first gathered around an installation of flyers that Hayes had found and re-created. Each flyer advertised a different event meant to address or protest a social issue. We were asked to gather into groups, pick a flyer and present it as our own cause, as if we were promoting the event to other teens.
After that activity, our groups dispersed throughout the exhibition and closely examined different pieces. We were then given a sheet with questions that provoked discussion. My group looked at a video of Hayes reciting a speech by Patty Hearst appealing to her parents to cooperate with her kidnappers. Hearst was a California-born heiress kidnapped in the 1970s by the Symbionese Liberation Army, who held her hostage until her parents distributed food among Bay Area residents living at or near the poverty level. Hayes memorized the speech, and when she fumbled in her memorization, voices in the background corrected her. My group decided that this gave the piece a feeling of someone else speaking for you, or being forced to speak someone else’s thoughts. We were then asked to think for each other, which very much reflected our reaction to the video. In other words, we were asked to answer questions such as “what would the person to the right think of this piece of artwork?”
After saying goodbye to the ETW teens, we convened in the Whitney Studio. There we met with the Whitney’s Human Resources Manager Lisa Dowd. Ms. Dowd gave us constructive advice on résumé and cover letter writing, interviewing, and the overall process of finding a job. I found this extremely helpful because she geared her advice to jobs in the art world which was more relevant and specific than general advice for interviews and résumés. I know that I will use this advice well beyond graduating high school and college.