Artists in Residence
Each semester, teens in the Youth Insights (YI) program collaborate with working artists. Get to know some of the YI artists-in-residence here.
Susan Cianciolo is a multimedia artist and designer. For the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Cianciolo transformed the Museum’s restaurant, Untitled, into her vision of a communal space. New tapestries and linens, custom uniforms for the wait staff, drawings, collages, performances, and a multicourse dinner were all part of the immersive experience. Cianciolo led a special Open Studio for Teens where she taught them how to embroider pillows.
Ajay Kurian’s Childermass, 2017 stretches from floor to ceiling in the Whitney’s open stairwell, stringing a series of “episodes” into a loose, almost sci-fi narrative of mutual misunderstanding and bodily anxiety. Kurian collaborated with Youth Insights Leaders to plan Making Us: Teen Night during the 2017 Whitney Biennial.
Sophia Al-Maria is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. Sophia Al-Maria: Black Friday is her first solo show in the United States. Through video and installation Al-Maria continues her examination of urban and economic development of the Gulf Arab region over the last decades by focusing on the Gulf’s embrace of the shopping mall. Youth Insights worked with Al-Maria to make work inspired by her practice of subverting advertising language with humor.
Born in New York City, photographer Oto Gillen spent more than a year walking its streets to create New York (2015–ongoing), on view in the 2017 Biennial. The series of photographs capture individual residents but also alludes to the larger economic, political, and social forces that entangle them. Views of passersby and close-ups of objects record the intimate, fleeting encounters of daily life at street level, while images of looming skyscrapers convey the city’s vast scale and evolving skyline. Gillen led YI Leaders in a two-part photography workshop where students were encouraged to take photos with their phones of their everyday lives.
James N. Kienitz Wilkins
Reflecting on the intersections of race, class, and technology, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s films take legal systems as a starting point and incorporate formal experimentation with language and performance. His films B-ROLL with Andre (2015) and Mediums (2017) were in the 2017 Biennial Film program. Kienitz Wilkins worked with YI Artists to participate in a multimedia investigation of a “mysterious narrative” using real-world materials. Students presented collaborative videos and ephemera from that investigation at their final celebration.
Leidy Churchman’s paintings combine different styles and experiences in order to explore the complexity of an image and its visibility. His painting Tallest Residential Tower in the Western Hemisphere (2015) was on view in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection. Churchman worked with YI Artists to explore the tenets of mindfulness and dharma art. For their final project, each participant created their own “protector” inspired by Buddhist deities and works from Human Interest.
For the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Rafa Esparza transformed the Museum’s first floor gallery into a rotunda made of adobe bricks. Esparza’s crew made each brick by hand from a combination of clay, horse dung, hay, and water from the Los Angeles River. The artist considers the dynamics involved in the labor of making the bricks an important part of the work. Esparza led a special outdoor teen workshop where he discussed his work and taught participants how to make their own adobe bricks.
Cauleen Smith who trained as a filmmaker, designed elaborately hand-stitched banners on view in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. The banners were created to be used in processions. The hand-sewn words and symbols in Smith’s banners represent issues that are important to her, such as prejudice, racism, and people’s inability to understand one another. Smith led a special Open Studio for Teens where they were encouraged to create their own t-shirt using words, symbols, colors, and patterns that represent something they felt strongly about. She also invited teens to join a procession with her banners for an upcoming film project.
Lele Saveri is a photographer, curator, and co-founder of 8-Ball, an independent non-profit organization that nurtures and supports a community of artists through free, open-access platforms and events. 8-Ball produces self-publishing workshops for teens, with the intention of keeping alive an art form that is being replaced by contemporary technology. Youth Insights teens worked with Saveri to create their own zines.
Raúl de Nieves
Raúl de Nieves works in sculpture and performance. He attributes his art practice to his childhood education in Mexico, where he was taught to sew and crochet. In his work, de Nieves often transforms everyday objects into something more fantastical. His site-specific installation beginning & the end neither & the otherwise betwixt & between the end is the beginning & the end (2017) was on view in the 2017 Biennial. De Nieves explored the themes of collaboration, artist community, and personal histories with YI Artists. During their final celebration, YI Artists presented a multimedia installation and performance that synthesized the various talents and stories each person brought to the group.
Stewart Uoo’s work explores and manipulates various aspects of changing urban environments and shifting human identities. Uoo’s sculpture No Sex, No City: Miranda, 2013 was on view in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection. Leaders worked with Uoo to plan their Halloween Teen Night. Attendees were invited to transform themselves with self-made costumes and makeup in the Hearst Artspace with the artist’s help.
Enriched with ritual, MPA’s performances and installations critically examine behaviors of power in personal and social spaces. She also explores the social and political implications of the body as a site of resistance in her work. Youth Insights leaders met with MPA to discuss her exhibition MPA: RED IN VIEW and participate in a movement workshop called the Grid.
Formed during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, Occupy Museums calls attention to economic and social injustice. In 2012, the collective launched Debtfair, an exhibition platform that categorizes artists according to their debts and other financial realities. Occupy Museums led a special Open Studio for Teens where they facilitated a discussion of their work in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and a sketching activity in the galleries.
Jessi Reaves uses an arsenal of found objects, industrial products, fabrics, and foam to create works that challenge the boundary between furniture and sculpture. During the 2017 Whitney Biennial her works were on view throughout the Museum, including its conference rooms. Reaves led a special Open Studio for Teens where she discussed her art practice and facilitated a giant sculpture workshop
Tamara Renée Davidson is a musician, artist, producer, and songwriter. Through her music and ritual practices, she takes on various manifestations of herself that are portrayed as avatars. Davidson developed and participated in shake the stars with your song, a one-day intervention on the Whitney’s fifth-floor Outdoor Terrace. Inspired by the work and process of Carmen Herrera, Davidson also led a special Open Studio for Teens workshop where she collaborated with teens to craft live musical soundscapes and graphic notations using instruments, movement, and painting.
Postcommodity is an interdisciplinary artist collective comprised of Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist. Their video installation, A Very Long Line (2016), was on view in the 2017 Biennial exhibition. The installation focuses on the border between the United States and Mexico, an emotionally and politically charged site that became more contentious through the 2016 election and the beginning of the current presidential administration. The collective led teens in a discussion about their work and facilitated a sketching activity in their video installation.
In her work, Jenny Perlin often combines 16 mm film, video, handwritten text, and drawn images, embracing the technical quirks of analog technologies. Perlin’s film Twilight Arc, 2016 and sound installation Canopy, 2016 were on view in the exhibition Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art 1905–2016. Perlin worked with YI Artists to create films that explore the intersection of language and images.
Unravel is a film project led by UK-based artists Maria Anastassiou, Chris Paul Daniels, Jo Byrne, and Kelvin Brown. Since 2010, the Unravel team has worked in different communities throughout the UK to lead art-making workshops that explore the tactile and experimental qualities of 16mm film. In December, the Whitney invited Unravel to participate in a week-long residency in conjunction with the exhibition Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art 1905-2016. During their residency, Unravel worked with families, teens, schools, and community groups to create a collaborative film inspired by the colors, patterns, shapes, and animated movements in the Dreamlands exhibition.
Jamian Juliano-Villani’s spontaneous and frenetic way of working is reflected in the pulsating energy of her paintings, mashups of images and references the artist collects and researches. Juliano-Villani participated in Open Studio for Teens where she facilitated a workshop in "bad painting." Teens worked in groups to create their own eccentric, collaborative paintings with the artist.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby is a Los Angeles-based artist who makes large-scale, representational work that combines collage, drawing, painting, and printmaking. Her work routinely fuses both Nigerian and American influences and source material, reflecting on contemporary African life (often her family) along with her experience as an expatriate living in the U.S., and the inherent difficulty of navigating these two realms. Crosby facilitated a workshop on photo transfers and collage with Youth Insights Leaders.
Mathew Cerletty depicts spaces, scenarios, and objects in his paintings in ways that feel familiar, yet unnerving. His paintings often point to Midwestern or suburban sensibilities using humor to create bizarre yet beautiful landscapes. Cerletty was a guest artist as Open Studio for Teens where he invited NYC teens to create artworks inspired by objects that are important to them but might seem ordinary to everyone else.
Steve McQueen is an artist and filmmaker. McQueen has directed films including Hunger, Shame, and 12 Years a Slave, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2014. For the exhibition Open Plan, McQueen created a newly expanded version of his work End Credits, which presents documents from the FBI file kept on the legendary African-American performer Paul Robeson. McQueen met with Youth Insights Leaders to speak about his work.
Elizabeth Jaeger has a continued interest in themes surrounding the domestic sphere and alluding to human presence. Her work was included in Mirror Cells at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Jaeger worked with Youth Insights Leaders to develop an artmaking workshop for Teen Night: Human Interest. She also led a special Open Studio for Teens session on sculpture and invented worlds.
Iva Radivojevic is a Yugoslavian documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn. Her films explore the themes of belonging, migration, and displaced identity. Inspired by the title of exhibiting artist, Laura Poitras's film, My Country, My Country, Radivojevic worked with Youth Insights Artists to create short films that explore how they personally experience and understand their country.
Laura Poitras is a filmmaker, journalist, and artist. Laura Poitras: Astro Noise, her first solo museum exhibition, expands on Poitras’s project to document post-9/11 America, engaging visitors in formats outside her non-fiction filmmaking. Her immersive environments incorporate documentary footage, architectural interventions, primary documents, and narrative structures, inviting visitors to interact with the material in strikingly intimate and direct ways. Poitras worked with Youth Insights (YI) Artists to explore observational filmmaking. Inspired by Poitras’s approach to documentary, YI Artists created films that recorded an event unfolding in real time. YI Leaders hosted a screening of CITIZENFOUR exclusively for teens and moderated a Q&A with Poitras after the screening.
Nina Chanel Abney—whose large-scale painting was on view in the Flatlands exhibition—works intuitively. Her brightly colored paintings buzz with energy and often include references from popular culture, the political arena, and art history. Youth Insights Artists worked with Abney to create their own original paintings that mash-up two seemingly disparate subjects from contemporary culture, and a collaborative mural with the artist.
Brooklyn-based performance collective, AUNTS, was founded by James Kidd and Rebecca Brooks in 2005 and is currently organized by Laurie Berg and Liliana Dirks-Goodman. AUNTS is both a growing community of artists and a choreographic structure for organizing simultaneous performance and art activities in shared spaces. Leaders worked with AUNTS to learn about their model for curating performance parties. The collaboration resulted in a Halloween Teen event that featured a scavenger hunt, costume-making from unusual materials, tarot card readings, performances on a makeshift catwalk, and a dance party.
Jared Madere lives and works in the Bronx, New York. Madere creates installation-based works with disparate materials such as salt, flowers, food, and plastic tarpaulins, that are assembled in ways that insist on their material connections to society, economics, industry, and human emotion. Madere is also the founder of Bed-Stuy Love Affair, an artist-run gallery focused on emerging art. The gallery has hosted events in a 1978 RV that Madere painted matte black and equipped with security bars. In fall 2015, Youth Insights Leaders met with Madere to explore his solo exhibition, experience the Bed-Stuy Love Affair vehicle, and discuss his path as an artist.
Rachel Rose is a New York-based artist known for her striking video installations that deftly merge moving images and sound with nuanced environments. Throughout her work, Rose examines how meaning is created and how a variety of moving and still images can be brought together to address concerns such as mortality, history, and the environment. Some of her ideas connect instinctually and are conveyed through music, emotion, and rhythm, while others are processed more intellectually. Through this approach, Rose tackles some of the most pressing concerns of today. Youth Insights Artists worked with Rose to learn about video art, the history of editing, and the relationship between painting and video. The teens also worked together to research and create their own short essay film.
Mexican-born, Brooklyn-based artist Alan Ruiz is interested in the partitions and enclosures of the built environment and how these conditions can determine social hierarchies. His practice includes interventions in art historical, architectural, and institutional spaces, restructuring them as sites of perception. During the semester, Youth Insights Artists learned about the work of Frank Stella and formalism, and examined the relationship between architecture and power. The students drew inspiration from the Whitney’s new building and surrounding neighborhood to create site-specific sculptures and performances.
The Wooster Group is a New York-based company of artists who collaborate on works for theater, dance, and video. By experimenting with new media, classical text, and found video footage, the collective aims to create work that reflects America’s ever-evolving culture. In Spring 2015, Youth Insights (YI) Leaders had the unique opportunity to work with the Wooster Group on their performance for the Whitney’s dedication ceremony. Following remarks by the First Lady Michelle Obama, YI Leaders joined the Wooster Group on the steps of the building as they sang an ironic folk song honoring the Museum and its surrounding environs. To conclude the event, YI Leaders joined members of the Wooster Company in an unconventional ribbon cutting ceremony.
Dread Scott is a conceptual artist whose work ranges in media and includes painting, photography, video, and performance art. Scott is known for his provocative artwork that draws on historical narratives and challenges contemporary injustices. In May 2015, Scott worked with Youth Insights (YI) Leaders to create a performance for the Teen Opening event. Scott challenged YI Leaders to use his residency as an opportunity to confront issues facing their generation. Together, they designed an interactive activity titled In Equality in which YI Leaders encouraged unfamiliar teens to hold hands and explore the Whitney together.
Artist Lize Mogel works within the “interstices between art and cultural geography” to create a form of “counter-cartography,” an approach that involves looking beyond a map’s surface to uncover the politics of place. In January and February 2015, Mogel worked with Youth Insights (YI) Leaders to explore mapping and mapmaking in the context of the Whitney’s new site. Inspired by Denis Wood’s book Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas (2013), in which the artist tracks and maps different things around his neighborhood such as barking dogs and jack-o’ lanterns, each teen chose one item to track (including coffee shops, cobblestones, and doors without doorknobs), and marked these items on a map of the area
Since the late 1980s, Yuji Agematsu’s artistic practice has included daily walks through New York City streets, collecting and documenting the myriad of objects, paper scraps, and trash that make up our urban landscape. Agematsu is a Japanese-born, Brooklyn based artist, whose work, Walk On A,B,C, was commissioned for the inaugural installation in the Museum’s theater in Spring 2015. In fall 2014, Agematsu worked with Youth Insights Leaders, challenging them to participate in similar meditative walks around the Meatpacking district and collect waste. In December, Leaders took a trip to meet Agematasu in his studio in DUMBO where they were invited to read his journals and explore his favorite object collections.
Jacolby Satterwhite creates dynamic videos in which he inserts himself into digital environments to explore concepts of memory and personal history. Much of his work is inspired by his mother’s drawings of invented domestic objects and luxury products which he transforms into three-dimensional architectural images, interacting with them through dance and movement. In the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Satterwhite’s video Reifying Desire 6, (2014) combined these objects and interactions with art historical and science fiction themes. In spring 2014, Satterwhite produced a video with YI Artists, using green screens, video cameras, and 3-D animation software. Satterwhite also invited the teens to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to visit his studio and talk about his artistic practice.
Diego Leclery’s work often blurs the lines between everyday activities and performance art. His site-specific performance, Me Playing Civilization for the 2014 Whitney Biennial involved playing the video game Civilization in the Museum’s Sculpture Court every day for the run of the exhibition. He is also known for an annual one-day performance in December at an artist-run project space in which he dons a polar bear suit and invites visitors to sit on him, much like one would sit on Santa Claus’s lap. During spring 2014, Leclery challenged YI Artists to think outside the box and to look at artworks in the 2014 Biennial with a critical eye. He also challenged their approach to their own art-making by asking the group to create over 200 individual drawings in just one hour.
Darren Bader’s work ranges from surreal sculptures to durational performances to tongue-in-cheek short films, all tackling questions of philosophical nature, art, and contemporary life. For the 2014 Whitney Biennial, he installed two large, clear donation boxes in the Museum’s Lower Gallery. One read “all donations will go to something,” while the other was labeled “all donations will go to nothing.” In spring 2014, Bader gave a brief talk on his ideas about art and asked YI Artists to use everyday objects to create installations in the Whitney Studio.
Angie Keefer is a writer and founder of the online and printed publication, The Serving Library. Her work explores the phenomena of lived life through questions that don’t need solid answers. Keefer’s work in the 2014 Whitney Biennial included a video installation, Fountain, an animation of a waterfall controlled by a computer program gathering data from the Dow Industrial of commodities futures indexes. When the markets were up, the water flowed down, and when the markets were down, the water flowed up. In spring 2014, Keefer and the YI Writers spent weeks asking thoughtful questions about the art on view and life in general. The group completed writing prompts and art projects that included a second person writing about an artwork in the Biennial exhibition, a piece written by a fictional character, and a redesign of the question mark, culminating in a collaborative ‘zine.
Julia Heyward takes a close look at the complexity of the multi-faceted self through performance, video, and new media. Originally a painter, she was one of the prominent New York loft performance artists in the 1970s and 1980s. Her work was on view in Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970-1980. Heyward has also worked as a recording artist at Columbia Records and she directed a Talking Heads music video. In fall 2013, Heyward worked with Youth Insights Artists to explore self-portraiture through in-depth discussions about current Whitney exhibitions, artists’ videos, and her own practice. The teens learned basic film and video editing techniques and created their own video diaries.
Clifford Owens is a performance artist known for his desire to bring attention to black performance artists. His work often challenges the boundaries of personal space and emotions through audience participation. He graduated from the Whitney Independent Study program in 2005 and worked with Youth Insights Writers in fall 2013. During Owens’s first meeting with the teens, he told the group, “Ask me anything, I have nothing to hide!” which prompted the teens to ask him many personal questions about his life and experiences. During the program, Owens challenged the teens to step out of their comfort zones, write scores, and perform ideas and topics that were unfamiliar. For their final performances, each teen performed his or her own piece exploring ideas such as beauty, misconceptions, and love.
Simmons at the installation of the “What Are You Waiting For?” project, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak
Wilson and YI Leaders discuss Leaders’ photographs at Wilson’s studio, March 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella
kira lynn harris
Kira Lynn Harris focuses on the formal concerns of space, light and the phenomenological and issues of individual subjectivity. Her site-specific drawings and installations have been shown in museums and galleries, as well as the exhibition Blues For Smoke at the Whitney (2013). Her participation as an artist-in-residence with Youth Insights continued a long relationship with the Museum, as a consultant with the Education Department from 1999-2001 and as a 1999 graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program. After visiting the exhibitions Blues for Smoke, Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective, and American Legends: From Calder to O’Keeffe at the Whitney, and Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Youth Insights Writers worked with Harris to create large-scale drawings and short-fiction pieces examining the roles of fashion and stereotypes in their lives.
Dave McKenzie examines the ways that conflicts between public space and the concept of a private self often reveal social and political aspects of the world in a manner both deceptively simple and frequently humorous. He often employs modest, every day actions or circumstances as launching points for creating performances, video works, sculpture, and installations. His work was on view in the exhibition _Blues for Smoke_ at the Whitney (2013). McKenzie introduced Youth Insights Artists to the ways that a concept can take shape through a variety of objects, actions, or images. Teens worked on a variety of projects that included creating costumes based on an idealized version of themselves and communicating with important people in their lives through letters that became both visual and performative works of art.
Beth Campbell’s work investigates notions of the everyday made strange and unfamiliar by the artist’s hand. Campbell positions her installations, videos, sculptures, and drawings in close relation to her own subjective view. Complicating what appears at first glance to be a facsimile of life is the artist’s masterful ability to confound any expectation.
Youth Insights Artists were inspired by an ongoing series of Campbell's drawings titled My Potential Future Based on Present Circumstances. After viewing and discussing her work, YI Artists began to examine their own ideas about the future using a variety of materials, including watercolor, wire, wood, glass tiles, drawing media, and found objects. For their final project, Youth Insights Artists selected personal objects which they were willing to part with and have parted. YI Artists sliced and reconfigured their objects into unusual hybrids and installations that truly question our expectations of the familiar.
Cameron Crawford’s studio practice encompasses sculpture, installation, writing, and artist books. His works often explore situations he determines to be philosophical paradoxes and the tenuous relationship between language and visual art.
Working with Youth Insights Writers, Crawford created a series of prompts that asked them to look at and respond to works on view in the exhibitions As Apple Pie, Signs and Symbols, and Wade Guyton: OS. Prompts included writing about a work of art with only “text speak”—the abbreviations and acronyms we normally use while texting; picking a work of art that you don’t like and writing about it or how you would change it; creating a list of favorites; and making a work of art based on a list of words that you like. For their final project, YI Writers created short scripts and videos that used works of art as characters conversing in a film or that outlined what their ideal museum would be. The only parameter they were given was that no live actors could be seen onscreen.
latoya ruby frazier
LaToya Ruby Frazier’s photographs are comprised of three bodies of work that revolve around her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The Notion of Family, (2002-), perhaps Frazier’s best-known work to date, is an ongoing series of black-and-white photographs documenting the artist’s family, one of the many families that have borne the brunt of the town’s social, economic, and environmental decline. YI Artists worked with Frazier to create photographs that documented their changing neighborhoods, selves, and a variety of public spaces in New York City. They examined the effects of advertising on society and the ways that individuals make every day choices. Teens also watched and discussed excerpts from the documentaries Century of the Self and the British series 7 UP to further understand the links between propaganda, advertising, and the ways in which social class affect an individual’s future.
K8 Hardy’s work draws on the tropes of fashion advertising, combining some of its most recognizable modes–product close-ups, meticulous styling and staging, eye-catching colors–into an abstraction of the genre. Rather than simply poking fun at fashion and its commercialization, Hardy complicates our learned response to the conventions of advertising. Spring 2012 YI Writers worked with Hardy to explore the relationship between visual art and text through the creation of artist books and zines. They created a wide range of alter egos that they explored through collages, photographs and finally a zine. The teens got to know Hardy’s work and heard her perspective on the work of other Biennial 2012 artists whom she knows personally and professionally–Nicole Eisenman, Liz Deschenes, John Kelsey, and Oscar Tuazon. Participants were excited to attend the fashion show that Hardy hosted on May 20 as part of the Biennial exhibition.
Using ideas based on the SHERRIE LEVINE: MAYHEM exhibition, which was concurrently on view, as well as mid-twentieth-century art movements as entry points, teens worked with Corey McCorkle to create works that examined themes of originality, appropriation, temporality, and site-specificity in relation to visual art. McCorkle’s own work incorporates sculpture, architecture, installation, and traditional documentary film-making techniques. His practice responds to and acts on its environment and he will often create objects or site specific installations within exhibition galleries and public spaces.
McCorkle asked YI Artists to propose a new location, configuration, and purpose for an eighty-two year-old bridge in Perry County, Kentucky that had recently been deemed “functionally obsolete.” YI Artists created drawings, schematics, water-colors, and writing to support their ideas which included using the bridge as an outdoor park and exhibition space and turning the raw steel of the bridge into large-scale public sculpture.
Dawn Clements creates large-scale drawings that depict interior domestic spaces, either her own surroundings or those in classic 1940s and 1950s Hollywood melodramas. She is especially interested in the idea of the home as a place of both comfort and confinement.
While working with Clements,YI Writers explored and analyzed the way that art can depict both literal and psychological space, as well as the ways that visual art can present narratives even without the presence of text. The teens moved between writing, critical discussion, and a studio art project in which they drew the details of an interior space from their own shifting perspective. Inspired by a visit to Clements’ Greenpoint studio and a wealth of quotes from Flannery O’Connor, YI Writers explored what it means to successfully convince a reader or a viewer. Over several weeks students worked with Clements to capture the details and fluid magic of everyday objects in an art classroom. Working on large paper, Writers created drawings in Sumi ink that swept with their perspective from the floor, to their own bodies, and sometimes across the ceiling.
Wardell Milan works in a variety of media, including collage, photography, and drawing, exploring themes of place and identity. He creates highly detailed dioramas with narrative scenes and recurring characters who reflect both personal and cultural histories. His solo exhibition, entitled _On Beauty_ at Annarumma Gallery in Naples, Italy (2011) includes black-and-white photographic cuttings and arrangements of boxers Jimmy Slade, Floyd Patterson, Ike Williams, and Sugar Ray Robinson. Wardell’s use of sports photographs coupled with explorations of black male identity and sexuality reference the work of artists such as Lyle Ashton Harris and Glenn Ligon, who became Wardell’s mentor during a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Working with YI Artists, Wardell challenged participants to think about personal, cultural and political histories as catalysts for creating art. For a project called Three Defenses, Wardell asked YI Artists to reflect on their relationships to objects in their lives while depicting them through photography, painting and drawing. For another project called I Am a Man..., Wardell asked YI Artists to reinterpret, in relation to today's world, the words in Glenn Ligon's painting, Untitled (I am a Man), 1980.
Often interweaving traditional Spanish Baroque imagery with personal subject matter, Angel Otero uses unconventional techniques to create large-scale, dynamic abstractions. Angel's process involves painting, but he challenges painterly conventions by using "oil skins" to build up his surfaces. To create his oil skins, Angel pours oil paint on glass, then scrapes it off in sheets when it is dry. "With paint, I want to give a sense of abundance, unbalance, ambition, courage and persistence within form, color, and texture in every painting," says Angel. Beginning with a studio visit, he invited YI writers to use the oil skins to make their own art for a project called The Skinny. For another project, And I Quote, Angel encouraged YI Writers to alter quotes and phrases that held special meanings for them using a variety of different materials such as stickers, ink, and paint.
Sara VanDerBeek is an interdisciplinary artist best known for her semi-abstract photographs which are based primarily on sculptural forms made by the artist herself. In the past, Sara has created sculptures using pictures from sources ranging from art history books to newspapers. The sole purpose of the sculptures is so that they can be photographed in her studio. After this has occurred, they are immediately dismantled, and the photographs that she has taken provide the only remaining evidence that they ever existed. From memory-inspired assemblages in Collaging Memories to an experiment in casting for Expression Through the Face, Gesture Through the Hand, Sara led YI artists through an exploration of material and memory and the ways in which the past can inform the present.
Lize Mogel is an interdisciplinary artist who explores the connections between art and cultural geography. She creates what is known as counter-cartography—maps and mappings of various locations that communicate new conceptions of social and political issues. She then inserts and distributes her mappings into public spaces and publications. Mogel has mapped everything from a Los Angeles Park to the future of Arctic territories, and everything in-between. She worked with the YI Writers on a project called Reconstructing New York City to re-map and re-imagine the city. They also created De-tour for the Non-tourist, an alternative tour guide to New York City that challenges established ideas of neighborhoods and streets that are simultaneously familiar and foreign.
2010 Biennial artist Nina Berman is a photojournalist whose work grapples with the issue of contemporary warfare in America. Her contribution to this year's Biennial is a series of photographs entitled Marine Wedding. The photos intimately portray moments in the life of Ty Ziegel, a former Marine sergeant who was badly injured in a suicide bombing in Iraq. With her camera, Nina captured Ziegel’s adjustment to life after returning home from war. Investigating the consequences of war with a different audience, Nina asked teens in Youth Insights to consider how war impacts their daily lives. Growing up during a time of international conflict in a city that experienced a devastating terrorist attack, the teens contemplated their relationships to war, making connections between their lives and a greater political and social atmosphere. With Nina’s guidance, YI teens examined how different artists have interpreted and responded to war throughout history. Inspired by what they learned, the teens created Interpreting War, where they had the opportunity to communicate their own perceptions of war through image and text.
2010 Biennial artist Aki Sasamoto creates performances and installations that examine the unexpected details of everyday life. Strange Attractors, her contribution to 2010, the Whitney Biennial, is a combination of installation, sculpture, and performance. Inspired by mathematic structures and the possibility of eating doughnuts from the inside out, Aki filled the space with a variety of altered found objects and activated it with her improvisational performances. Thinking about her own life and the objects in it, her work is an immediate and direct reflection of whatever is on her mind at the moment. Aki asked teens in Youth Insights to explore artistic expression as movement and action in different kinds of spaces. Stepping into unfamiliar territory, YI explored the world of performance art, researching artists such as Joseph Beuys and Vito Acconci, and engaging with new works by Tino Seghal and Marina Abramovic. Aki also guided the teens in Authentic Movement, a Jungian exercise focused on the body’s exploration of space. With a better understanding of performance art, YI teens began experimenting with performance, found objects, and video. For The Authenticity Project, YI teens created works that were as unique and different as the materials they used, reflecting their own artistic journeys toward self-expression.
Suzanne Bennett is a painter who works mainly with oil and mixed media. Suzanne has an MFA in painting from CUNY Brooklyn College, and has worked closely with artist Roni Horn for the past three years as her studio manager. During fall 2009, Suzanne explored the history of landscape painting with the YI Writers group, investigating how generations of artists have attempted to represent natural and man-made scenery in their work. She asked the teens to create their own daily journal consisting of notes, sketches, and collages to record and reflect upon ideas about the environments they experience on a daily basis. Suzanne led the students through the exhibition, Roni Horn aka Roni Horn, discussing the artist's work and considering alternative methods of landscape representation. Inspired by Suzanne's guidance throughout the semester, the teens worked together to compose a large-scale collaborative landscape of New York and beyond for their final project. Presenting an array of media including poetry, collage, photography, drawing, and painting, the works by the students stand as independent works of art, but can simultaneously be viewed as one large landscape composed of interwoven pieces.
Christine Kim received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2006 and her work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad. A native of Orange County, California, Kim now resides in Chinatown in New York City. Christine has been deaf since birth and communicates using American Sign Language. Her latest work involves an innovative process she calls 'seismic calligraphy,' in which she uses highly amplified sound vibrations to move objects that have been saturated with paint, ink, and pigments to create abstract works on paper. Her experiments with this process, which border on performance, are documented on video. In conjunction with the exhibition, Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction, Christine encouraged teens in the YI Artists group to think about how abstract art can capture the essence and identity of specific places. The teens explored Chinatown and documented the neighborhood by taking photographs, recording ambient sounds, and collecting objects. Christine then instructed the teens in creating their own seismic calligraphy prints using the sounds and objects they had collected. In videography and editing workshops, Christine helped the teens to make short films documenting their experimental processes.
Artist Rashawn Griffin uses a variety of materials, such as bed sheets, food, and flora to create large-scale sculptures and paintings. After receiving his MFA from Yale University, he exhibited in multiple solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Griffin challenges his viewers to recall their own past experience by engaging with his art. One way that he does this is by referring to his own childhood growing up in Kansas—as he did in his innovative work for the Whitney Biennial exhibition in 2008. The exploration of place, site specificity, and identity through sculpture and photography is a major theme of Griffin’s installations and was a focus of the Spring 2009 Artist in Residence program. Griffin worked with YI teens in conjunction with the exhibitions Sites and Artists Making Photographs. The teens explored their ideas of place by photographing sculptural objects that they discovered around them or created themselves using found materials. Over several weeks, they continued to investigate the same idea in different media, creating sculptures, photographs, digital images, and writing around their chosen theme.
A 2005 Whitney Independent Study Program alumna, Brooklyn-based artist Xaviera Simmons combines twenty-first-century media with traditional art forms, encompassing photography, performance, video, and installation. Her works--often collaborative and interactive--flesh out ideas surrounding constructed memory, idyllic landscape, and community engagement. During Fall 2008, YI teens participated in gallery discussions with Xaviera and museum staff, exploring the exhibition William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 and what it means to be an artist in a community. Xaviera facilitated a photography project in which YI teens were instructed to go out and document the communities with which they identified. These photographs were compiled into a final collection and made into a bound portfolio.
"Art should be inclusive but not easy."
Throughout his career, Spencer Finch has played with light and color to create works of art that explore specific spaces. Creative Time and Friends of the Highline commissioned Spencer to create the first public art project for the June 2009 opening of the Highline Park in Chelsea. The work, entitled The River That Flows Both Ways, is a study of the many colors of the Hudson River and an exploration of the relationship between work of art and public audience. In Summer 2008, Spencer and YI teens explored these same themes in their project. Using the Whitney as their site and The River That Flows Both Ways as their inspiration, the teens made their own installation from refuse they found around the Museum’s offices. They were able to awaken concerns about the environment and firmly ground their work as part of the expanding green movement.
neighborhood public radio (NPR)
Neighborhood Public Radio is a guerilla radio broadcast group that uses portable FM transmitters to air community-based, non- commercial programs. These 2008 Biennial artists take freedom of speech and cultural heterogeneity as their watchwords as they make art that parodies commercially sponsored news organizations. They champion localism overglobalism and especially encourage community members to speak about their own experience rather than having national journalists speak for them. In the Spring of 2008, NPR guided the YI teens through various hands-on workshops. With their help, the teens broadcast their own creative public service announcements, built their own radio transmitters, and created "radio plays."
2008 Biennial artist Marina Rosenfeld creates music and performances that challenge ideas of the conventional visual and audio experience. She invited YI teens to star in her Biennial performance, Teenage Lontano at the Park Avenue Armory, which focused on highlighting the complex relationships between audience, performer and music in a single piece of art. Teenage Lontano featured the YI teens as a twenty piece choir, singing along with iPods and the music that filled the hall. In weekly preparation sessions, Marina engaged the group in lively discussions about performance, sound art, and her practice as an artist. The sessions and the performance itself combined powerfully as a way for the teens to learn about diverse kinds of art and their meanings.
Mika Tajima is an independent artist and member of the artist collective New Humans. Her practice bridges the gap between painting, sculpture, performance art, and design. For the 2008 Biennial, Mika and New Humans mixed all of those media in the piece Disassociate, which takes collaboration itself as its subject. In Spring 2008, Mika worked with YI teens to design the cover of our sketchbooks. She and the students collaborated in their quest for a design that reflected the spirit of the Whitney and the Youth Insights Program.
Jaya Howey, an abstract painter, has worked extensively with artist Kara Walker as her studio assistant. As the Fall 2007 Artist in Residence, he joined YI teens in heated debates about art as activism and the artist’s responsibility within the community, prompted by the Kara Walker exhibition My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. Jaya invited the group to his studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to take a look at his works in progress and also assisted the group in creating critical visual art responses to the Lawrence Wiener exhibition, As Far as the Eye Can See.