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Youth Insights

Fall 2013
With Clifford Owens

Clifford Owens is a performance artist whose work often challenges the boundaries of personal space and emotions through audience participation. He graduated from the Whitney Independent Study program in 2005 and worked with Youth Insights Writers in fall 2013. During Owens’s first meeting with the teens, he told the group, “Ask me anything, I have nothing to hide!” which prompted the teens to ask him many personal questions about his life and experiences. During the program, Owens challenged the teens to step out of their comfort zones, write scores, and perform ideas and topics that were unfamiliar. For their final performances, each teen performed their own piece exploring ideas such as beauty, misconceptions, and love.


Alixia is a sophomore at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS). She was born and raised in Queens, New York. Her parents are from the Dominican Republic. For Alixia, art is an oasis of serenity amid chaos. It helps her de-stress. Alixia’s interests include reading poetry as well as science fiction, romances, and mysteries. She also likes to listen to music and watch TV. Alixia usually gets inspired while going through a tough time. If she had the chance to meet anyone living or dead, it would be Edgar Allan Poe because she would love to know what inspired him to write If Alixia could meet any fictional character, she would choose Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series, because she has some questions that have been left unanswered, such as what did he really see in the Mirror of Erised? If Alixia had an exhibition at the Whitney, she would name it That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen.


Alonzo is a senior at Arts and Media Prep. He is of African American descent. His family comes from the Dominican Republic and now lives in Brooklyn. Art defines who he is. His interests are drawing, reading Marvel comic books, and dancing. He is inspired by Lady Gaga, his mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. In the future he hopes to pursue a successful career in art and interior design.


Athena (Tina) was born in Long Island and is currently at School of the Future. She is of Lebanese and French descent. Tina has grown up around art and has been exposed to it her whole life, primarily through her mother and grandfather. A few of Tina's interests include photography, writing, drawing, and running track. Tina adores music as well. Additionally, Tina writes flash-fiction, can't get enough of poetry, and is an avid reader. In the near future, Tina aspires to become a surgeon and save lives. She hopes to continue writing and to fulfill her passion for the arts.


Bertin is a tenth-grader and has a Haitian and Native American background. He is a creative writer. To Bertin, art is something you can draw or something that is so complex it is difficult to describe. His inspirations, which fuel his writing, include paintings, words, and his mother and grandmother. Besides creative writing, Bertin likes acting, singing, dancing, swimming, reading, and playing basketball. In the future, he hopes to be a successful writer, actor, and director, and to work with technology. Bertin’s dream is to write a book this year.


Evelyn is from the Lower East Side, but she currently lives in Forest Hills, Queens. Her mother is from Trinidad and Tobago. She likes to do a lot of personal writing and thought that YI Writers would help her improve her writing and explore new techniques. Art is therapeutic to Evelyn—she uses it to express herself and to explore. Photography and writing are her main interests. In the future, Evelyn would like to become an actress, a photographer, and a director.


Heather is from the Bronx and is a junior at City-As-School. She is a middle child with four sisters and one baby brother. When Heather was younger she was interested in the theater. As she grew older, she became more interested in the arts. She is a self-proclaimed pessimist, but aims to become more optimistic. Heather does not really know what she wants to do in the future, but she thinks it will involve the arts, writing, fashion, or cosmetology.


Isabelle is a tenth-grader living in New York City. When she is not reading or writing, Isabelle is playing soccer or basketball. At home, Isabelle embraces her family’s Hispanic roots and speaks Spanish with her parents. Her writing is influenced by her heritage and her experiences of traveling around the world. Last year, she was fortunate enough to visit Thailand and Cambodia. Her travels have inspired her to one day become a journalist for The New York Times. 


Jerry is a senior at Humanities Preparatory Academy and is from New York. His family background is Dominican. Jerry would like to broaden his skills, express himself, and pursue a career in scriptwriting. Besides writing, Jerry also enjoys painting, skateboarding, and playing guitar. He is inspired by artists and by people who know what they want to do and never stop pursuing their dreams. He hopes to attend an art school in the future and continue to study scriptwriting.


Kalifa is the daughter of two Jamaican teachers. She attends Benjamin Banneker Academy and has an older brother. She views art as a means of expression almost separate from the real world, and thinks of art as conveying something impossible to explain verbally. She loves singing, photography, and fashion. She hopes to overcome her fear of public speaking and have a successful career in the future.


Nafisa was born and raised in New York City and is currently a junior in high school. Her parents are from India and Bangladesh, and she speaks Bengali and English fluently. She tends to write poetry and short stories related to her experiences. Nafisa likes heavy metal music, especially the band Asking Alexandria.  She would like to make the world a better place through her art.


Petra is a senior at the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice and currently resides in Manhattan. She hates the MTA and likes music, reading, writing, and violin. Petra is passionate about art and writing and uses these mediums to express her ideas. In the future, she hopes to achieve self-pride and emotional growth.


Randy was born in Long Island and raised in New York City for as long as he can remember. He attends The Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills. In his free time Randy enjoys longboarding, playing video games, and basketball. In the near future, he hopes to make varsity at his school and in the long run he wants to study at Columbia University, where he is optimistic that he will discover his passion. 


Sadie is currently a senior attending Bard High school. She has two little brothers that she loves dearly. Art didn't catch her eye at first, but now it plays a big role in her life. She doesn't really like talking about her hopes and dreams because she feels as if she might jinx them, but in the future she hopes to be a journalist or photojournalist. She also has an interest in fashion. Although she would like to start reading more, this school year she started taking a very intensive painting course, which has made her appreciate art more.


Born to a Cuban mother and a Jewish father, Tess is a sophomore at the School of the Future. Though she says she is not particularly confident in her artistic skills, she had a work on view at the Guggenheim Museum, which she regards as her biggest accomplishment. She is interested in traveling, community service, and HTML/CSS coding. Tess is inspired by many things life has to offer. Like most of us, she just wants to become a better person, to improve herself, and to see even more of the world than she has already.


Tess was born in New York and currently attends the Packer Collegiate Institute. Her mother is from South Africa and her father is American. Art plays a very important role in her life. She draws inspiration from the people around her, books, articles, and the world in general. Tess would like to become an artist or a textile designer. After high school, she wants to study in Japan.


Theodora, also known as Thea, has lived in SoHo, New York her entire life. She grew up with two brothers. Thea attends Bard High school and lives with her mom, who is an artist, and her dad, who is a composer. For Thea, art is something that sparks conversation. Her interests include learning Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean languages. Thea hopes to achieve happiness in the future.



A 30-second online art project:
Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Sky/World Death/World

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