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Youth Insights

Spring 2016

YI students at the final screening of their films.

With Iva Radivojevic

On Thursdays, Youth Insights Artists worked with documentary filmmaker Iva Radivojevic to create short films that explore how they personally experience and understand their country.


Destini is from New York and a self-described “odd child.” She aspires to be an animation artist, and was connected with Youth Insights by a friend. To her, art can show how someone feels. She loves Tim Burton, and is interested in animals and all things Japanese. Life inspires Destini, and she hopes to achieve her goal of becoming an animator in the future.

Do Critters Have Feelings?
My film is about animal security, and one person’s opinion on it. In this three-minute film, I show my cat in her home and interview my friend Amin who shares his thoughts. 


Emily is from Northern Manhattan and comes from an artistic family. She joined Youth Insights Artists because she wanted to learn more about art and see if she’s really passionate about it. One of Emily’s favorite artists is Banksy. Emily is very inspired by music. She loves singing and playing bass guitar. Emily hopes to do something beneficial for the world and be happy in the future.

The Truth About the Meat Industry
Factory farming is the leading cause of climate change—mainly because of the overabundance of methane, a greenhouse gas produced by cows. My film explores factory farming’s impact on global climate change and how the meat industry tries to hide it. I interviewed people on the street to see what they think the leading cause of climate change is and learned how little people know about the truth of corporate farming. 


James is from New York, with an Irish background. James believes art is a good way to communicate. His favorite artist is David Byrne, who he also credits as one of his inspirations. James likes the color green, eating, and music. He also plays the saxophone. In the future, James wants to find a career that is rewarding and makes him happy.

Dariel Speaks
Dariel, a young New Yorker, speaks to the thousands of people that take the subway on a daily basis about police brutality. He recites an original poem about his own ordeal with the police and the response of millions of people around the world to the recent killings of unarmed African Americans by police officers. Words don’t do justice to the things Dariel has to say about the future of culture, society, and race in America.


Jenely is Dominican and lives in Queens. She came to Youth Insights to learn more about artists and what inspires them. Jenely believes that art is history: it teaches you about people and cultures during different points in time. Her favorite artists are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tim Burton, and Frank Stella. Jenely loves to travel and learn about new cultures. Her family runs a food blog, so she goes to a lot of restaurants and food fairs—something she really enjoys. She hopes to learn to draw and paint really well.

Woodhaven Is Where I'm From
I believe people should be aware of their surroundings, especially where they live. My film looks at my changing neighborhood of Woodhaven, Queens. Recently I have noticed that Woodhaven has become more diverse, and acts of violence have increased. I documented a community board meeting to show what is going on and how people are working together to address issues. I also filmed in the local pizzeria that has been in my neighborhood for decades. I asked the owner how he viewed the changes in our community. 


Born and raised in Brooklyn, Jennifer is a senior at City-As-School High School. She believes art is about free self-expression and does not have one favorite artist. Jennifer enjoys hanging out with friends and wants to finish school. She is currently focused on getting her diploma.

The ability to not repeat past mistakes is one thing the human race has yet to learn. We all have our separate flaws, but those who use theirs to make the lives of others miserable are INSANE. I use my art to connect with my audience in an emotional and realistic way. The challenge is to convey our reality from our deepest fantasies while knowing where these two things diverge.


Karla is from the Dominican Republic and currently lives in Manhattan. To Karla, art is about self-expression. At the moment she does not have a favorite artist. She is interested in journalism and writing, and finds herself most inspired by her family. Karla hopes to graduate high school, attend college, and to know herself and what she wants to do in her life.

Brown And A Girl In The United States
My film explores the life of a “foreigner.” I asked a friend of mine who is Bengali to discuss her experience with racism. She spoke about Bengali culture and why she believes girls are treated differently from boys in the United States. My film reflects on the life of a foreign self-identified “brown” girl, and explores the parallel experiences of the world we come from and the world we live in now. 


Katya is from Kalmykia, Russia. She is excited to meet and work with other artists. For Katya, art is a hobby, and one of her favorite artists is Brian Konietzko. She enjoys video games, and uses them as a way of escaping reality. In the future, Katya hopes to achieve true happiness.

Les Immigrants
My film is about something exciting, scary and frustrating that is familiar and close to almost every New York resident. My film is about immigration—specifically the experience of a teen immigrant. The film’s subject is my friend who immigrated to the United States when he was fifteen years old. I show his story, his personality, and life at school. 


Leo lives in Elmhurst, and goes to the Queens High School for the Sciences. His family comes from Fujian, China. Leo believes that art is a way to express emotion, and his favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh. He loves basketball, and is inspired by school and his friends. In the future, Leo hopes to become a successful YouTuber.

Buzzfeed Don't Sue Me
My film explores the landmarks of NYC. In 2015, 56.4 million tourists came to visit NYC.  I was curious if tourists visit here for fun or to learn about our city’s history. I visited popular landmarks such as, Belvedere Castle, Grand Central Terminal, and the Brooklyn Bridge, and asked people what they knew about the landmarks themselves. 


Lucy is a young artist from New York. Both her mother and grandmother work at the Whitney. Lucy loves working with wood and making jewelry, and finds the natural world and the human body inspirational. For Lucy, art has been a way to express herself. Two of her favorite artists are René Magritte and Georgia O’Keeffe. She enjoys playing varsity softball. In the future, Lucy wants to be able to support herself as a studio artist.

The Way They Leave Tells You Everything
During my spring break, I filmed every time I got in the car for a long trip. My film began as a tool for education about the environment, but took a different direction after I viewed my footage. I chose one long shot that inspired me and recorded myself reading seven poems by Rupi Kaur, a feminist poet I’ve been obsessed with lately. Her words inspire me to think about connections between environmental issues and human rights. These are issues that billions of people like me confront every day. The goal of my film is to make my viewers think.


Nicole lives in Manhattan and has a Russian and Filipino background. Personal research brought her to Youth Insights Artists. She does not have one particular favorite artist. Nicole is interested in architecture, art, photography, and politics. Optimistically, she wants to save the world. More realistically, she wants to go to college and fully participate in life as an active member of society.

All In A Day
There are so many pressures created by society, including the expectation that one must follow the “perfect” timeline of the “perfect” life: graduate high school with a great GPA, choose a career, attend college, get a job, and pay all your debts. New York City teens in 2016 are drowning in these expectations and have no say. My film, a day in the life of a teen, shows how these pressures constantly surround us. 


Nudrat is from Jackson Heights, New York, and is of South Asian descent. She describes herself as a very artsy person who feels trapped in her environment at a very science-focused school. To Nudrat, art means having an escape. She loves Gordon Ramsey, food, music, and biology. She plays piano, guitar, and flute. In the future, she wants to work with Doctors Without Borders, become a museum curator, and travel.

Riyaaz is a short film shot in Jackson Heights that depicts the lives of South Asian immigrants living in New York City. In the events following 9/11, people of various cultural backgrounds have been prone to discrimination because of their physical appearance and their names. The title Riyaaz means the art of doing something every day in Hindi. The film’s subjects embody this ethos. Regardless of rank or occupation, they show the utmost dedication to their work and loyalty to their culture. 


Rawan is a junior at Fontbonne Hall Academy. She’s Syrian and Lebanese. Rawan believes that art is about expressing feelings, and finds it too hard to pick just one favorite artist. She’s interested in architecture and drawing, and finds inspiration in the latter. Rawan hopes to be an architect.

I asked people on camera what words come to mind when I say “Muslim.” This one word can trigger many associations. The responses I received range from “religion” to “terrorist.” This experiment allowed me to engage strangers in conversation, challenge negative stereotypes, and explain the true beauty of the Muslim religion. I hope to have changed their views on Islam. 


Rebecca was born and raised in China. She lives in New York now, and goes to St. John Preparatory School. For Rebecca, art is about depicting everyday life. She wants to paint things inspired by her imagination. Rebecca has practiced ballet and Classical Chinese dance for 3 years and she believes that all types of art are related. Rebecca hopes to improve herself as an artist.

Smart Phone Addiction: What Has Changed?
I created a film about the social phenomenon of smartphone addiction. I often see people with their heads down, staring at their phones, even on a date or at a party with their friends. There are an increasing number of accidents attributed to the use of cell phones in cars. Sometimes people get hurt or even lose their lives because they do not notice traffic. Such tragedies can be avoided if people pay attention to what is happening around them. I filmed different people focused on their phones on the street, in restaurants, in the gym, and at school.


Storm was born and raised in Brooklyn. She’s an African American, artist-writer, microbiologist, who dabbles in law. She grew up around food and her mom runs a café. Storm aspires to be a food critic. She believes art is a way to explore the mind. She enjoys art, gardening, cooking, and food. Storm hopes to get to a place where she isn’t worried about the future.

Kids And Politics
I wanted to understand the ways that young people develop their political views, so this film explores the involvement of youth in today’s political events. I interviewed my AP literature teacher about his opinion on youth participation in politics. One of his main beliefs was that kids need to take action in order to fully understand politics. The film shows my involvement as a volunteer for the Hillary Clinton Grass Roots campaign. Some of my responsibilities included making phone calls, promoting Clinton, and participating in discussions about current events. The work I do is a prime example of some of the ways that youth can actively engage in politics, regardless of their age.  


Tiffany is from Elmhurst, New York. She’s a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School and this is her third time participating in a Youth Insights program. Tiffany believes that art is a form of creative expression that is universally understood by society. Her favorite artists are Keith Haring and Yoko Ono. She enjoys watching documentaries, traveling to other museums, and blogging. Tiffany finds that current social events inspire her. In the future, she hopes to attend a liberal arts college and become a curator.

Dim Sum
Dim Sum is a Chinese Canton cuisine that involves bite-sized food served in small steamer bowls or baskets. My film depicts part of a two hour long Dim Sum brunch with my family. In addition to showing the variety of steamed dishes and the restaurant, I also wanted to convey the act of sharing and a sense of family. I included scenes where my family members pass plates of food around a large rotating table or pour tea (known as yum cha). This film allowed me to showcase the significance of family and sharing in my culture.


Victor was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens. His teacher recommended him for Youth Insights, saying it was great for young artists like him. Victor believes art is a way to better understand everything that goes on around us. His favorite artist is the singer Tyler Carter, and he is interested in skateboarding and music. His main inspiration is the movie Mr. Nobody. In the future, Victor hopes to make the perfect film (by his own artistic standards).

No Money? No Problem
Many New Yorkers struggle to pay the subway fare. This film examines what people often go through when they can’t pay the fare. Shot entirely in the subway, the film shows how identity markers may affect how people react when asking for money or swipes to get where you need to go.


Violette is from New Orleans, Louisiana and currently lives in Brooklyn. She is African American, and describes herself as a scientific yet artsy girl. She also has a twin. Her favorite artists are Ansel Adams and Dan Flavin, who she views as pioneers in their mediums. Violette is interested in physics, photography, and drawing, and finds that life, light, and outer space inspire and fascinate her. In the future, she hopes to work in a museum.

Everybody experiences some form of social anxiety but nobody talks about it. It is taboo and a gateway to peer pressure. All forms of social anxiety should be better understood and respected. Social anxiety is when you feel like you can’t express yourself fully because you’ll be judged. You start to make people see you in a way that’s different from your state of mind. I interviewed teens about how they experience social anxiety, and what it means to them. Their responses were just as different as everybody’s social anxiety. 



A 30-second online art project:
Ryan Kuo, Hateful Little Thing

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