YI Meets Architect Caroline O’Donnell and Artist Stewart Uoo
Jul 9, 2013

woman on laptop talking to students

Caroline O’Donnell of CODA talks to YI teens at the Whitney, July 2013. Photograph by Kate Nadel 

On Tuesday, July 9, YI met two very interesting professionals: architect Caroline O'Donnell from the firm CODA, whose Party Wall at MoMA PS1 received this summer’s Young Architect Project award, and artist Stewart Uoo, whose work was on view in the exhibition Stewart Uoo and Jana Euler: Outside Inside Sensibility.

O'Donnell explained the extensive process behind her work, She spoke about how little time her team had to put it all together and explained the thrill of seeing the project come to life. Her use of eco-friendly materials (such as leftover wood used for skateboard decks) was essential to the project. What was most intriguing to me was the clear distinction she made between art and architecture. She did not see architecture as a branch of art, but as its own distinct pursuit. Her reasoning was that architecture is not an art as much as it is a job: it must meet certain structural or functional expectations. The appearance or the meaning behind a building is not as important as the uses it is meant to fulfill. 

teens in a room of colorful installation art

YI Summer teens exploring Stewart Uoo’s artwork, July 2013. Photograph by Filip Wolak

After we talked to O’Donnell, we went to meet the artist Stewart Uoo in the Whitney’s Lobby Gallery. Uoo’s sculptures were on view along with a painting by collaborator Jana Euler, in the show Stewart Uoo and Jana Euler: Outside Inside Sensibility.

Unlike O'Donnell, Uoo has far more flexibility as an artist. Our group had seen the exhibition the week before and we left with more questions than answers. Our main question was what is the meaning behind it? Although some of us came up with in-depth interpretations, such as the decay of society, Uoo told us that his figures were inspired by characters from the television series Sex in the City as well as post-apocalyptic anime and manga art. Ultimately we thought that while audiences might be affected emotionally by Uoo’s art, they can also interact with and enjoy the features that O’Donnell’s architecture offers.

By Luis, Youth Insights Summer participant