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Youth Insights

Spring 2013
With Dave McKenzie

Dave McKenzie examines the ways that conflicts between public space and the concept of a private self often reveal social and political aspects of the world in a manner both deceptively simple and frequently humorous. He often employs modest, every day actions or circumstances as launching points for creating performances, video works, sculpture, and installations. His work was on view in the exhibition Blues for Smoke (2013). McKenzie introduced Youth Insights Artists to the ways that a concept can take shape through a variety of objects, actions, or images. Teens worked on a variety of projects that included creating costumes based on an idealized version of themselves and communicating with important people in their lives through letters that became both visual and performative works of art.


My name is Allandra. I have three sisters and one brother. Art has been a part of my life from a very young age. My favorite kinds of artwork to create are abstract paintings and sculptures. I use art to express my emotions on a daily basis. Also, I find that when I am sick in bed, art is what manages to get me through the day. I love to sit in front of paintings  and imagine what compelled the artists to create them.

  • A teen wears a pink mask. 

  • Image of text on paper.


I am Anna and I was born and raised in New York City. The city shaped me and made me the person I am today. I have a Slavic-Turkish background, and I am a first generation American. I have been sketching and painting since I could hold a pencil. I have been going to museums my entire life. Art is my way of expressing my views about the world.

  • A teen wears a yellow and red mask.
  • Text on paper.


I am a Brooklyn-raised Bard High School student. I feel completely unqualified to define art. The only time I know I’ve made art is when I’ve created something I cannot categorize—when I have no idea which file in my brain I’m supposed to put it in. When it comes to visual art, I would consider myself a more established photographer than anything else.  Still, I can’t help but do things I’m not great at—painting, drawing, you name it.

  • A teen wears a bar on her head.
  • Text on paper.


My name is Carlo. I was born in New York City. I am half Italian and half Colombian, but for some reason I usually refer to myself as Colombian—maybe because I speak Spanish and not Italian. My mother is an artist, and as I grew up I was always in her studio painting and drawing. Besides art, my main interests are enjoying myself with my family and being outdoors. I find a lot of inspiration when I am outdoors and by myself. I really like observing things and thinking clearly. Medicine and art are my two main interests. I also enjoy dance and music. The human form and mind, and the way we look, move, and behave inspire me. I hope to be happy in the future. I hope to look back at my life and see that I put something into the world to make it even a little bit better. 

  • A teen artists wears glasses he made of fabric.
  • Text on paper.


I am a sixteen-year old aspiring fashion designer and stylist. I was born, raised and still reside in Brooklyn. My mom and dad were born and raised in Guatemala and immigrated to the United States in the early 80s. To me, art is essential to life. What I mean is that you need art, and you see it everywhere—in buildings, cars, trains, etc. My only interest besides HBO is fashion. Life itself inspires me. Daily struggles and positive vibes inspire me. Day-to-day living inspires me. In the future, I hope to achieve a better creative process and continue to stay inspired.

  • A teen wears an art piece made of white cloth.
  • Text on paper.


I was born and raised in Brooklyn by artistic parents who also work in finance. I am an active musician, and I’m interested in film. I’m not a visual artist, but someday maybe I could become one. To me, art encompasses many things. Music, writing, and acting are what inspire me. I have many favorite artists in those categories—too many to list. I’m also inspired by the senses and the mind. In the future, I hope to achieve relief from the stresses of existence.

  • A teen artist wears text on black clothing.
  • Text on paper.


Hi. My name is Grayson. I am a native New Yorker and attend the Hewitt School. Art is an extremely important part of my life and a crucial part of who I am. I have a wide range of interests, and I find that my need for artistic expression is the common thread weaving them all together. I like to sew and crochet—in other words, creating pieces of wearable art. When I bake, I can decorate the treats with fine detail. Community service is another huge interest of mine. I am able to give back to the community with art. I paint murals on run-down brick walls, and conduct art classes with younger children to give to the elderly. I find inspiration in everything. I like to drink breakfast tea before I go to bed.

  • A white t-shirt with a question mark on it.
  • Text paper.


My name is Lisa, and I go to Stuyvesant High School. My personal definition of “good art” has changed throughout my life, at first gradually and subtly and then more rapidly and drastically. I feel that what I consider to be “good art” now is vaguer and more difficult to grasp, and yet more sophisticated and closer to my own individual truth, than it’s ever been. I’m shaped by every conversation I’ve ever had and everything I’ve ever seen, and my tastes and ideas are similarly fickle and volatile. Although that means that I do not have a set style or signature as of yet, I’m somehow excited by the idea of being unrestricted by my own expectations.

  • A teen wears a mask with red brick patterns.
  • Text on paper.


My name is Lucie, and I am a junior at PPAS (Professional Performing Arts School). I am a dancer. I have always loved art. For me, it is a way of channeling my creativity, as well as a way to keep me relaxed. I love to write, and whenever I think of a character, I always draw them, in the hope of truly seeing the person I have created. In the future, I hope to find a way to help people, whether it be through art, dance, or nursing.

  • A teen wears a colorful mask made of feathers.
  • Text on paper.


I’m fifteen years old, and I love art and music. I’m from Brooklyn, New York. Art has always been a huge part of my life. Without it I wouldn’t be the same. It’s the freedom of a canvas that really gets me going—the ability to express myself in any way I can. I love art in many forms, whether it’s painting, sketching, or playing my piano or guitar. People, as well as life experience, stories, and dreams, inspire me.


I am part of a family that struggled and worked hard to succeed. My brother inspired me. He was the one who introduced me to the world of art. I come from an Indian family who generally want their kids to pursue a high-paying career. While there are many artists in my country, Bangladesh, my parents don’t exactly believe in the arts. They have the perception that artists fail or don’t get far in life. Growing up with that thought in my mind, it discouraged me from becoming an artist. Then I realized, aren’t we all potentially artists, because what really is an artist? I think an artist is someone who struggles to get their message out or to express themselves in a way where they become vulnerable for just a moment, and everyone struggles with that. Generally, most people would hope to have a family, a good job and a long life. But along with those achievements, I hope to obtain happiness.

  • A teen artist wears an oxygen mask.
  • A grey sweatshirt with text on it.
  • Text on paper.


I am Saul, a Mexican-American who loves the arts and is driven by the concepts of innovation and creation. For most of my life I have lived in the Bronx.. In no way was I a genius or a prodigy at drawing. In fact, my dad taught me the first thing I learned about drawing, how to draw two-dimensional legs. I do not have my own definition of art. I only think that art should consist of beauty and, even then, beauty is subjective to the beholder. What I hope to achieve is to be able to say on my deathbed, “I have lived a great life and I regret nothing.” I move in the direction that the universe takes me and hopefully the universe will move me in the best possible direction.

  • A silver and black mask.
  • Text on paper.


I am Simon, from Brooklyn, New York. My mother is Chinese and my father is German. To me, art means many things. It means representation, it means meaning, and I think that it means expression as well. My interests don’t exclusively pertain to art, although art is involved in most things I am passionate about. I hope to become a designer in my adulthood, either in architecture or fashion. Artists and their artwork inspire me, but my main source of inspiration is the world at large. I am inspired by the city that surrounds me, and the people that I see. I hope to achieve my goals in terms of my future career. If this is not the case, where the world takes me is where I shall go.


I am Tiffany, and I came to New York from Taiwan six years ago. None of my family members are artists—they are fishermen, civil servants, tutors, managers, or lawyers. I’ve always remembered how my friend Ruby jeered at my futile attempts to render my stick figures realistic, and how much I admired my cousin’s drawings. In this sense, it’s surprising (even to me) how much a workshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has transformed me from an introvert who struggled to express how I feel to someone who is now confident in facing new challenges without wallowing (too much) in self-pity and dread. Art allows me to freeze a moment or scene of beauty in time and enjoy it thoroughly both in creating and admiring it.


My name is Zeus.  I am an aspiring artist and martial artist, who prides himself on his ability to convey almost any idea using a camera. I am also a person who has had to work hard to overcome certain physical setbacks to be where I’m at today. As a baby I suffered from heart complications, as well as epilepsy, a speech impediment and impaired motor-skills. In my childhood, I became socially reclusive because I was afraid of being persecuted by my fellow classmates. When I got older I started to embrace who I was as an artist and as a person. Through art-making I have developed a strong sense pride and self-worth. Art, for me, has been a way of expressing my ideas and views on the world.



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

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