YI Artists Create Silent Films
Oct 21, 2013

Students work on computer

YI Writers edit their short silent film in the Whitney Studio, October 2013. Photograph by Hannie Chia

On October 16, YI Artists started to prepare for our self-portrait project with our Artist in Residence, Julia Heyward. Youth Insights staff Hannie and Correna led the session. We learned how images can tell a story and how to use video editing software. First we went to the fifth-floor galleries to examine artworks that tell a story using a series of images. We individually interpreted each image of the War Series (1946) by Jacob Lawrence, and then in groups we tried to figure out the story Jacob Lawrence portrayed. We then presented these stories—which varied from the realistic experience of one soldier to the exaggerated life of a war hero—to the group. This activity helped demonstrate how widely interpretations can vary from person to person when viewing art. 

  • Students examine artwork

    Examining Jacob Lawrence’s _War Series_ (1946), October 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

  • Students write about artwork

    A group of Writers figure out their version of Lawrence’s narrative, October 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

  • Students view artwork

    Sharing stories with the group, October 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

  • Students discuss writing

    Writers discuss plotlines for their silent films, October 2013. Photograph by Correna Cohen

  • Students work on their film

    Editing the films in the Whitney Studio, October 2013. Photograph by Hannie Chia

We divided into three groups and Hannie asked each group to create our own story by taking just five or six posed photographs in the galleries. We took pictures of people in our group and art from all over the Museum to help tell the stories. Next Hannie introduced us to new editing software and we learned how to use its features, such as weaving our pictures together to make them into a story. Once completed, each story became a short silent film. Each group was able to use text along with other editing techniques to enhance the images. After presenting our films, we gave constructive criticism to help each other with future editing.

Film is a very difficult medium to master, and this project helped the whole group learn about the complexities of movie making. Most of us had trouble mastering the editing software, and while it was difficult, it is essential that we all learn how to edit. Editing is not a widely appreciated art form, despite the fact that it is the editor’s job to weave the film together to make it into a tangible story. The most interesting part of the day for me was learning how editing can make still images into an interesting and understandable narrative. While it was not easy, this session helped prepare us for our self-portrait projects, which we will continue to work on next week. 

By Owen, Youth Insights Artist