Artivist Teen Night
Aug 11, 2016

Students watch posters.

Whitney teens lead a “Protest Sign Making” workshop at the High Line’s Artivist Teen Night. Photograph by Patrick MacLeod

The purpose of the High Line’s Artivist Teen Night on August 11 was to empower teenagers to lift their voices to inspire change within our communities. We as teenagers often feel our opinions and concerns for the future are misrepresented or not represented at all. For example: not being old enough to vote. As a YI Leader and a member of Museum Teen Summit (MTS), a teen-led museum collective, I had the opportunity to help facilitate two different workshops at the Artivist Teen Night.

For the Whitney’s workshop, we asked participants to define what the word “injustice” means to them. Here are some of their answers: 

Bullshit

Lack of equality

Not being who you want to be

Trapped

Students making posters.

Teens participate in the Whitney’s “Protest Sign Making” workshop. Photograph by Patrick MacLeod

We also led a “Protest Sign Making” workshop, encouraging participants to write any message that was important to them on a picket sign.

For Museum Teen Summit’s activity, we created a talkback wall to inspire our peers to fight against injustice. We asked teens: “What are some of the ways you have fought against injustice?” Teens talked back in English, Spanish, Dutch, and French. Here are examples of what they said: 

“I have participated in my school’s Youth Court program for three years, restoring the balance in my school’s community and also helping students acknowledge their wrongdoing and the impact of their actions.”

“I teach people to love themselves through music, and to fight stereotypes and hatred through songwriting.” 

“Creando espacios seguros para gente de color, travez del arte” (“Creating spaces for people of color, through art”).

 “Door te sprehen waar je voor staat” (“By speaking up for what you stand for”).

 “By following my own footsteps, speaking up for myself, and pride.”

 "I did a rally for Rahmarley Grahm #Blacklivesmatter.”

Teens peacefully protesting.

Whitney teens lead a peaceful protest at Artivist Teen Night. Photograph by Patrick MacLeod

At the end of the evening, the Whitney education staff and Youth Insights participants led a peaceful protest. Teens held the handmade picket signs they made during the workshop as they chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “no justice, no peace!” 

The Artivist Teen Night was a success because no idea was left unexecuted and no opinion was left invalidated. As the summer draws to a close, and a fresh school year approaches, keep the words of our peers in mind and use their advice! Perhaps our advice can stop the perpetuation of injustice and lead to equality for all. 

By Gia, YI Leader