Artists and Youth: A Dialogue is a series of public programs organized by teens for teens where contemporary artists are invited to participate in open discussions about their work. Youth Insights teens hosted Artists and Youth: A Dialogue with Cory Arcangel, Harrell Fletcher, Luis Gispert, Jim Hodges, Glenn Kaino, LOT-EK, and Julianne Schwarz.
Hi! My name is Alina and I am a senior at Stuyvesant High School in downtown Manhattan. I live with my parents, two-year-old mini-demolition man of a brother, and my furry cat. I was born in Krasnodar, Russia. Nine days before my tenth birthday, I left my comfortable and familiar world of grandparents, aunts, and sea of cousins, and made the biggest move of my life to Brooklyn, New York. Before long, I made friends, joined clubs, and became a regular American teenager.
The people I have met and the things I have been able to do have been amazing. Youth Insights is one of these meaningful experiences, not only because I learn about art in new and appealing ways, but because I can connect with peers from all over the city. Even though I previously had absolutely no interest in art beyond the visual, I am now extremely curious and hope to take art classes in college.
Art appears abstract and challenging, and it is, but every single person can look at it and see something beyond the canvas. Youth Insights has shown me that what I think is just as legitimate as an art expert with a Ph.D. It is a remarkable program that allows so much discovery and can be interesting to just about anyone. Our eclectic group is proof of that!
You probably have three minutes to read this, which is good, because I have about three minutes to write it. This is my second year in Youth Insights, so that means more tours, more art, and more fun. Mostly, I joined the program because I didn’t know much about art. It was a paid, easy way to find out about art, and to be honest, I didn’t expect to become so engrossed in the program. So here I am, a year wiser and going through it all again, and I’m hoping it’s all for the better.
I live in Brooklyn and go to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. I have a brother at school in England, and both my parents work in New JerseyI help teach third graders at Beth Elohim Synagogue in Brooklyn and I am starting an internship with Morgan Stanley for general purposes.
My name is Anita and I am a junior Art major at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan. I am sixteen years old and this is my second year in Youth Insights. I live in Brooklyn with my family where I enjoy sleeping, watching television, working on my website, and eating—preferably cheese.
I decided to come back to Youth Insights because it's a family and it's hard to be separated from people you love. I learned so much about art, how a museum functions, and how much work and effort goes into curating and hanging an exhibition. Youth Insights made me want to study art history in college and perhaps go into a career involving museums. Since I am an art major in high school, I always struggle with the prospect of keeping art in my life while making a sufficient living, and I've finally found something that doesn't involve producing art but being around it all the time. The program has also taught me to be flexible and to manage my time better, not only in Youth Insights, but in my schoolwork as well. I've met so many different, new, and exciting people and experienced so many wonderful things. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.
Once upon a time, about seventeen years ago, my pudgy, bald, baby-self decided to grace the Earth—more specifically New York. Since then, I’ve acquired some hair and learned all of the things that come with childhood. I’ve lived in Sunnyside all my life with my family—my cousins and I live in the same apartment building and my grandfather lives across the street. If you had to split me into genealogical fractions, I’d roughly be half Irish, a quarter Polish, and a quarter Welsh, along with some other miscellaneous European tossed in there, that alternate depending upon which of my relatives you ask.
I’m a senior at Townsend Harris High School, and I’m a big fan of the art and writing classes. I love movies so much, I’ve decided to spend my life making them, but that remains to be seen. I guess my "defining" characteristic would be my love for purple. Pretty much everything I own has some form of purple in it.
An experience that shaped my life would have to be my vision. It’s a long story about genetics and surgeries, but I’ve pretty much been legally blind since I was three. I shall spare you the nightmarish tales and simply tell you that it has certainly made me grow up fast. Anyway, let’s talk about YI. In one word: awesome.
My name is Christina and I am a second-year Youth Insights participant. I love being in Youth Insights because art history is my passion and I enjoy being with other YI. I am an activist for Amnesty International, and I enjoy connecting themes of expression, from artwork to the human rights movement. I love to travel and most recently I went to Poland for five weeks. I hope to join the Peace Corps after college. In my spare time I take kickboxing lessons, enjoy hanging out with friends, read, and go to museums.
An experience that has really shaped my life was when I spent four months in Wiscasset, Maine, away from Chapin, where I go to school in Manhattan. I explored learning in a hands-on, non-lecture approach, which was a significant change from school.
My experience so far at Youth Insights has taught me how to talk about art to intergenerational groups. I am looking forward to the spring trimester of senior year.
My name is Daziann and I am currently in the eleventh grade. I am very lucky to be a part of this wonderful group of people.
I am in a dance company called Mambo’s Finest Take 2. We are a youth group from the ages of eight to eighteen. I also work in my sisters' dance studio as the secretary and teach a children’s class on Sundays with my sister Tiffany. I’m beginning to record my demo and I am very excited about that. I hope to make it big with my voice. If that does not work out, I would like to be a lawyer or a veterinarian.
I love to hang out with friends. I am a movie fanatic. I also take voice lessons so I can become a better singer and my music career can take off. I want to make a difference in this world, no matter how I do it. A person I truly admire is a young woman by the name of Charmaine Lalane. She was the one who inspired me to sing. She always told me I could do anything that I wanted, if I put my mind to it. I thank her for a lot of things in my life.
Hey everyone, my name is Gary. I grew up in Spanish Harlem. I am black with a touch of Puerto Rican. I identify more with my black side. I go to Urban Peace Academy. I'm a senior. My favorite subjects are global, American history, English, and theatre production. In my spare time I listen to music—pop, rock, alternative, hip-hop, R & B, and rap. I tutor my cousin. I identify myself as "multi-facial." I am quiet, fun, spontaneous, good, bad, funny, and an over the top, perfectionist, dork. Don't worry, the good shines through.
The only experience that shaped my life was the death of my grandmother/mom. On September 1, 2002 my mom died of cancer. I attended the funeral and the next day I went to school as a sophmore. It taught me to become Mr. Independent and break free from being Grandma’s little boy. I still miss her, I hold on to all her values and teachings. Thanks, Ma.
My fellow YI participants have given me more confidence about what I can do. The most challenging thing was giving my first tour and working through my nerves. My advice to future YI is to have fun. Take advantage of this chance. This is the coolest job a teenager could ever have. I would not trade this for anything, not even Vin Diesel. Peace.
Hi, my name is Lee. I’m a junior at the Bronx High School of Science, and live in Manhattan. My background is faux-Irish, mixed with various Eastern European countries. In my spare time, I enjoy wandering around with friends, photography, watching movies, reading, drawing, and wearing cool socks—bonus points if they don’t match. Music is also very important to me. I’ve realized that I tend to like bands whose names have alliteration.
Youth Insights is a lot of fun and a really interesting experience. I’m not sure what I’d like to be in the future, besides happy. However, film, art, photography, sleeping, and writing interest me the most, and any combination of the five would be great. I am most skilled at the art of procrastination. Not only have I procrastinated about writing this bio, but I’m only writing it now so that I don’t have to finish several essays due tomorrow. Llamas are cool. My favorite color is turquoise. Picnics are fun.
Hi, my name is Momodou. I come from the Republic of The Gambia in West Africa. I’m seventeen and I go to the Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities. I speak three different languages: English, Wolof, and Mandingo. My favorite subject is science, but I also like mathematics. I use my spare time to watch TV, play games, and watch more TV. I try to squeeze in some homework. Otherwise, I’m outside playing soccer or hanging out with friends. Some people say I’m shy, others say I’m sly, but I see myself more as a mysterious kind of guy.
Youth Insights has been a wonderful experience and I would say that I definitely gained more self-confidence. We gave gallery tours to teens and other groups. Although it’s a challenge to me, it's quite fun when you get used to it. Youth Insights is a great program to participate in, because it changes the way you look at art. It makes you see it on a whole new level.
Hi! My name is Leslie. I am a sophomore at Jamaica High School Gateway Program in Queens. I have learned a lot being a part of Youth Insights, including responsibility, leadership, social skills, and much more.
My hobbies are swimming, dancing, drawing, playing tennis, and having fun. My favorite among them is swimming; I am a part of the swim team. My parents are from Grenada, West Indies. I was born here, though. My future goals are to graduate from high school with honors, attend a medical-oriented college, and become an internal medicine doctor or an obstetrician.
Climbing a mountain, being pickpocketed on a Spanish subway, and eating sushi with French dressing, are just some of the exciting things that happen in my life. I’m Ozzy. I’m sixteen and go to The Heritage School. I was named after Ozzy Osbourne. My dad is Peruvian. I live in the Bronx with my mom, my three-year-old alien brother, and his pet chihuahua called Baby. In my spare time I like to go to the movies, hang out with friends, and eat at really neat, cozy little diners. My favorite color is green, and I enjoy saying the word "smock." In school, I enjoy English and art (what a surprise!).
Going to Spain my sophomore year really had a lasting impact on my life. It made me realize the effect that America has on other parts of the world. It was interesting to see how countries embraced American culture and how they tried so hard to stand apart from it as well.
Meeting new people has been awesome. We all have distinct personalities, but also share common interests in researching and learning about art. This program has pushed me to gain new skills that will be useful in my future. Above all, this program has taught me that museums don’t always have to be boring, and that with an upbeat group of people and desire for conversation, it’s possible for them to be interesting.
Hi, my name is Pharisha, I am seventeen years old and I go to Herbert H. Lehman High School in the Bronx. Two years ago, I moved from Mexico to New York. When I entered school, I faced the language barrier. All of my subjects were in English and that was difficult to understand. But there I found people and a mentoring program that helped me adapt. My mentor helped me apply to Youth Insights.
Being a part of the Whitney Museum of American Art has been really important to me. All the participants and the staff have helped me to view art in another way, and to discover parts of myself that I didn't know I had. I am really proud to be part of the Whitney community, because every single minute I have learned something new. One of my favorite experiences at the Whitney has been giving tours. Giving tours you can learn so much, such as self-confidence and more importantly, new things about art itself. It is so amazing. That is why I am so proud to be a part of Youth Insights.
My name is Ray, and I am a senior at Vanguard High School in Manhattan. This is my second and final year in Youth Insights and so far I have had a blast. Although I'm a senior, I don't have "senioritis" (I think that's how you spell it) and that's a shame. Like last year, I am expanding my knowledge of art and American culture, and enjoying the new group of Youth Insights participants in the process.
My ethnic background is African American, Puerto Rican, and Egyptian. My tastes and interests never change, I love freestyle, R & B, and hip-hop. I still love to read and write. Take care, hopefully I will see you at the Whitney.
It’s below zero degrees and my hands are cold
But just for you, I type this poem
About my life to fill you in,
On how a YI is within
By some I’m Victoria, to others Vicki
To Hester Dang, I’m “Vicki the Hicky”
(Inside joke that’s pretty lame)
But that’s how it goes for someone insane
Fiorello H. LaGuardia is my school
Piano and cello is the domain I rule
There isn’t much that I dislike
Except for pessimistic hype
I’m known to some as the music geek
Indie rockin “Hot Hot Heat”
And don’t forget my Modest Mouse
A band that I can’t live without
What else is there? The cold makes me slow
If it’s gonna be this cold, at least let it snow
I’m sorry about my randomness,
Of indie bands and Calculus
And sorry for the crappy poem
But I now end here, my maximum
Looking at the sky reminds me of when I was coming to the United States. I crossed the Pacific Ocean, from east to west, and from sunrise to sunset. Moving to America, my parents believed their children would have more opportunities than they had. Carrying all the hopes of my parents, I have always tried my best in my four years of high school. I started an Origami Club and have some great plans for it, for instance, donating money to orphanages and homeless shelters.
I started volunteering at the South Street Seaport Museum. I worked in the membership department and I learned how an office works. I learned the importance of working as a team; if one person didn’t finish his/her job, it would slow down the whole process. In Youth Insights we share and present our own understanding of artworks and give tours for visitors to the Museum. This was a big challenge for me because I’m afraid of speaking in public. I believed that if I could overcome this weakness too, I would become a better person. I did and I am accomplishing my parents' dream of a better future.
Hi there! My name is Will and I attend LaGuardia High School as an art major. I live with my mom, dad, and brother in the juicy borough of Brooklyn and I am fifteen years old. Since my days of furiously drawing in pre-school, I have always been very intrigued by art and what makes art. Actually, I wasn’t too keen on museums as a kid, but now I can’t get enough of this one! You’d think taking four trains to get to the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the snowy slush on a Saturday morning without shoes, while carrying a mule and a loaf of bread, would be quite the burden, but somehow knowing that you’re traveling to the Whitney, it becomes quite a pleasure.
In my spare time, I like to draw, doodle, ride the train to explore a new stop, meet new people, and eat. My favorite subject is either art or English, because I like to read and to be creative. Youth Insights is an opportunity for me to meet new people while being creative and has transported me to an environment of artists and communities that I never thought I would have the honor to be a part of. It’s great to belong to such a welcoming group of people who are now like family.