The anticipation surrounding the Youth Insights circus-themed party on April 30 was almost tangible by the time the day actually arrived. There was a very special debut to celebrate: the opening of the Whitney Studio. Created by the architecture firm, LOT-EK, this space was designed to serve as a primary meeting place for those involved in the Whitney Educational department, which includes the YI teens! Breaking in a new space can be nerve wracking and odd but also incredibly fun. So with the help of the teens who attended the event we were able to give the space those endearing, lived-in qualities that could be found in the most accomplished artist’s studio.
YI Leaders came in earlier that week to create decorations like circus flags and posters. We used spray paint and sheets of foam core to create circus characters with cut-out faces, allowing guests to stick their heads in the scenes and momentarily become their favorite circus performer. Leaders Eloise, Evelin, Elleni, and Sarah painted strong men, lion tamers, trapeze artists, and clowns. We also learned how to make a monotype print and practiced the refined skill of face-painting. In preparation for our tours we researched Calder’s Circus (1926-1931) by Alexander Calder. This work, which is included in the museum’s permanent collection, inspired the theme for our event.
On the day of the event, teens arrived quickly and before we knew it the party had begun. Everyone comfortably circulated through the various activities that had been planned: face painting, print-making, and a station with questions for our Whitney Biennial 2012 scavenger hunt. Painted faces soon filled the space, while cups of popcorn and cones of cotton candy were consumed greedily. After the refreshments had been enjoyed, prints had been hung and faces had dried we moved onto the second portion of our evening, a tour of the Museum featuring Calder’s Circus in the Singular Visions exhibition and works in the Biennial. Visiting teens stayed engaged while YI Leaders discussed pieces by artists such as Dawn Kasper, Sam Lewitt, and Nick Mauss. After the tour the teens answered the questions included in our scavenger hunt using the information they had gathered and collected prizes for their efforts. The evening ended with many happy prize winners. Another day, another successful teen event at the Whitney!
By Elleni and Isaiah – YI Leaders