Youth Insights Circus Party
Apr 16, 2012

four teens in face paint

YI Leaders Isaiah, Izzy, Evelin, and Rebecca put on their best faces for the circus party inside the new Whitney Studio. Photograph by Berry Stein

The anticipation surrounding the Youth Insights circus-themed party on April 30 was almost tangible by the time the day actually arrived. There was a very special debut to celebrate:  the opening of the Whitney Studio. Created by the architecture firm, LOT-EK, this space was designed to serve as a primary meeting place for those involved in the Whitney Educational department, which includes the YI teens! Breaking in a new space can be nerve wracking and odd but also incredibly fun. So with the help of the teens who attended the event we were able to give the space those endearing, lived-in qualities that could be found in the most accomplished artist's studio.

YI Leaders came in earlier that week to create decorations like circus flags and posters. We used spray paint and sheets of foam core to create circus characters with cut-out faces, allowing guests to stick their heads in the scenes and momentarily become their favorite circus performer. Leaders Eloise, Evelin, Elleni, and Sarah painted strong men, lion tamers, trapeze artists, and clowns. We also learned how to make a monotype print and practiced the refined skill of face-painting. In preparation for our tours we researched Calder’s Circus (1926-1931) by Alexander Calder. This work, which is included in the museum’s permanent collection, inspired the theme for our event.

  • teens holding cotton candy in face paint

    YI Leaders Rebecca and Izzy celebrate the opening of the Whitney Studio, April 2012. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • teens sit around crafting

    Teens experiment with printmaking in the Whitney Studio. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • teens sitting and working on crafts

    Teens enjoy the new Whitney Studio space. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • teens talking in museum lobby

    Everyone enjoyed the cotton candy and popcorn machines in the sculpture court. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • costumed teens and child showing art

    Former YI Artist Amhara, YI Leader Eloise and a young friend show off their artwork. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • woman applying face paint to teen

    YI Leader Zoe handles the face painting station. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • students talk about artwork that is on floor

    YI Leader Isaiah explains Sam Lewitt's work as the group looks on. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • girl with facepaint and another teen in studio

    YI Leader Izzy and YI Artist Timothy in the Whitney Studio. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • girl with face paint poses with friend

    YI Writer Medge and a friend enjoying their facial decorations. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • teens eat cotton candy

    YI Artist Raymond and friends finishing up their cotton candy. Photograph by Berry Stein

  • students take photo inside cut out

    YI Leader Orly and YI Writer Billy become a lion and a lion tamer. Photograph by Berry Stein

On the day of the event, teens arrived quickly and before we knew it the party had begun. Everyone comfortably circulated through the various activities that had been planned: face painting, print-making, and a station with questions for our Whitney Biennial 2012 scavenger hunt. Painted faces soon filled the space, while cups of popcorn and cones of cotton candy were consumed greedily. After the refreshments had been enjoyed, prints had been hung and faces had dried we moved onto the second portion of our evening, a tour of the Museum featuring Calder's Circus in the Singular Visions exhibition and works in the Biennial. Visiting teens stayed engaged while YI Leaders discussed pieces by artists such as Dawn Kasper, Sam Lewitt, and Nick Mauss. After the tour the teens answered the questions included in our scavenger hunt using the information they had gathered and collected prizes for their efforts. The evening ended with many happy prize winners. Another day, another successful teen event at the Whitney!

By Elleni and Isaiah - YI Leaders