Skip to main content

Youth Insights


Artists and Youth: A Dialogue is a series of public programs organized by teens for teens where contemporary artists are invited to participate in open discussions about their work. Youth Insights teens hosted Artists and Youth: A Dialogue with Glenn Ligon, Barbara Kruger, and Vik Muñiz.


Hello, my name is Azikiwe, I was born and live in Manhattan. I go to high school in Brooklyn. My mother is Black, and my father is Black/Native American. In my spare time I enjoy art and music. I love to paint, draw, sculpt, collage, photograph, and I love art history and art criticism. Sharing artwork with other people is something special, because it is like sharing a piece of your soul. Music also holds a very special place in my life, because it makes me listen. When I'm listening to music, I put myself on hold, but when I'm busy drawing or painting, I am expressing myself, I am "talking" to the page, the canvas.

Youth Insights intrigues me because I have the chance to work with other people, and be there as they experience works of art. I try to help people get all they can out of a piece and come away with something beautiful. I like to watch them react in their own way to a work that didn't strike a chord in someone else. I look forward to working with older people because it gives me a chance to see something through a set of eyes that has been around longer than me. I look forward to working with younger people because they are able to give me an unbiased opinion, and a purer point of view than mine.

In three years, I see myself in a big loft somewhere in New York painting, writing, making music, teaching a class in art history, and curating an exhibition.


Hello, my name is Barbara. I was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx. I currently attend high school in the Bronx. My ethnic background is Puerto Rican. In my leisure time I like to listen to a variety of music, hang out with my friends, and draw. I also help autistic children do arts and crafts in a community center. At my school I take classes in fashion design, advertising, and computer graphics.

Art is a way of communicating to others. It's a form of expressing yourself without limits. I became interested in Youth Insights because I wanted to obtain knowledge about a variety of different cultures and acquire strong communications skills. I like working with older people because they are more experienced and have different views on things that are happening now. I like working with younger people too, because they also have a different perspective on art, and because they are so energetic.

In the next three years, I see myself enrolled in an art school getting my master's in computer graphics and advertising, or being in the Marines. In the Marines you have to be tough and willing to take on challenges. I like to explore, and most of all I like to take risks.


Cheryl (n): Unique; me.

As an Asian raised in a predominately Jewish neighborhood, I always possessed an urge to break away from conformity. I wanted to be distinguished from other people, but I was alone in wanting to be dubbed "different." I possess a passion to be unique. Now, a senior in high school, I have harnessed my desire to imagine, to create, and to embrace new ideas.

Although I love analyzing art, I also enjoy black-and-white movies, photography, dancing, singing, writing, poetry, sketching, and fashion. I like all forms of art, from paintings to poetry, from dance to drama. What ties them all together is that they tell a story, though one's perception of a piece is unique to that person. But for me, all art is a great outlet.

I plan to major in fashion design, and I would love to have my own line in the future. I feel blessed to be associated with the Whitney and all that it represents. My experience here allows me to interact with a wide range of ages, and to gain a respect for the contrast in ideas among the them. Older as well as younger people bring a varied source of knowledge, experience, and fresh perspectives to a discussion. For me, the most significant aspect of working with Youth Insights is revealing the different backgrounds of those around us, as well as among ourselves.


My name is Crystal, and I am a first-generation Chinese American, born to Hong Kong immigrants. I have always lived in Flushing, Queens, where you can walk a mile and see only Asian faces. My high school is the squat gray building that has motivated me and made me curious in all my endeavors.

Art and literature have been my main passions, and swimming has helped balance my mind/body relationship. These offer escapes from anxieties, but at the same time, allow me to meditate on the complexities of everyday life. Through words or images, art has shown me the importance of baring one's soul.

For me, art is a window into another realm, a new experience allowing the senses and reason to unfold. The daily joy of seeing scenes and objects is almost a subconscious experience, but art accents this and brings it to a conscious level.

Youth Insights has taught me how to reach into the conscious mind and heighten my understanding of aesthetics, even when I step out of the museum. I have great access to the art world within a close-knit community. Older and younger generations can share and reveal things that may escape the trained eye. We are devoted to a common goal of learning about art, so lasting friendships are formed.

In three years, I see myself studying at a liberal arts college, pursuing the things that will define my future.


Hello, my name is Dana. I go to high school in Manhattan and study commercial education, which is basically business, marketing, and accounting. I live in Brooklyn, and was born and raised there too. My ethnic background is Haitian.

My hobbies are dancing, singing, and hanging out with people I love, such as my family and friends. One of my interests is psychology. I believe that the mind is a very important part of the human body. What I like most about Youth Insights is that it's a group of high school students getting together to talk, learn, and experience all types of different art. When I first came to the Whitney, I was nervous because I didn't know much about art. For the few months that I've been here, I've learned a lot, and that's what it's all about—learning. So far I've been having a great time. I was interested in this program because I have a shy side and a wild side. I wanted to bring out the wild and happy side of me, and it's really working.

I love to be around people younger and older than me. It's great working with older people because they have had many experiences in their lifetimes and we can exchange knowledge. It's great working with kids too. Though they don't have much experience, they have a lot to offer, and a lot to learn.

In three years, I see myself graduating from high school and entering college. What I have in mind now, is to study psychology, so I hope to go to a medical college and learn more about psychology.


My name is Deborah. I attend high school in Queens. My ethnic background is Serbian and Romanian.

My interest in Youth Insights began with my interest in art. Through the program, I have learned that there are dynamic meanings and symbols behind every art piece. Another thing I learned, was that every individual has a varied perspective on different works of art, and I know that I will gain something from each person that I meet.

One of my favorite interests is writing poetry. When I write, I am able to express my inner emotions. I liked the Barbara Kruger exhibition because she expresses her feelings and emotions in her artwork in a similar way. When observing Kruger's art, I can easily relate to what she is feeling.

Another favorite interest of mine is drawing different aspects of nature in pastels. These drawings let me look back on a piece of nature that captivated me. When I first observed Edward Steichen's beautiful artwork, I was inspired. His way of showing nature has helped me present my artistic view better.

Although I am interested in American art and creating artwork, I plan to major in pre-medical studies while attending college. Becoming a doctor has always been my dream and personal goal, but it's also a challenging task. Working with both kids and senior citizens at the Whitney has helped me understand humanity, and has allowed me to touch the lives of others. I hope that I will someday develop into a very well respected and passionate physician.


My name is Denisse, and I'm a junior in high school. I was born and raised in Peru. When I was ten, my family and I moved to Queens, where I continue to reside.

I grew up in an artistic environment. I had two favorite uncles, one was a cartoonist and the other was an opera singer. From them, I acquired my love of art. I like art because it gives me the freedom to express my feelings on how I view the world.

I'm currently majoring in architecture. Architecture is not just about drawing buildings. It allows you to learn about the development of cultures. The High School of Art and Design has allowed me to explore different kinds of art. Youth Insights has given me the opportunity to get to know the work of American artists and a basic knowledge of how to view contemporary art.

Working with older people is interesting because they have so much to offer and share from their experiences. I like working with children because whatever knowledge they gather in their early years will have an impact on their adulthood, and I would like to be part of that development. After high school, I plan to major in architecture in college.


My name is Erin, and I am a senior in high school. I was born in New York City, and I have lived in Queen my entire life. My major in high school is visual art. I love to work with photography and mixed media because they let me create a variety of visual representations of my emotions.

I joined Youth Insights because I love to learn about new and contemporary artists. The program also interested me because I really like analyzing and having discussions about different works of art. I've been inspired by quite a few artists, one of them being Barbara Kruger, whom I was able to meet at the Museum.

I am planning to continue studying art in college, and I hope to someday build a career around my passion for artistic expression.


Hello, my name is Frainceska, and I'm a senior in high school. I currently live in Brooklyn. Being born and raised in Brooklyn is a tough thing. You have to be strong-minded to survive one of the toughest boroughs in the city, a quality I think I possess. Being a Haitian American also isn't easy. There's a lot of negative attitude towards Haitian Americans, and I want to be the one who changes the negative into positive.

I love theater and music. I thought that working at the Whitney would complement my interest in the performing arts, since art in general is a great form of expression. It reveals a lot about people and their personalities. Youth Insights allows me to discuss art with high school students my age. We share our ideas when we present art to others. Working with different age groups is extremely informative. It lets me see how different ages react to artworks. I'm planning to go to college and become the best actress ever.


Hi, my name is Harry, and I am seventeen years old. I am a senior in high school in Brooklyn, where I was born and raised. I am half Italian and the rest German and Lithuanian.

I am interested in both viewing and creating art. Making art allows me to express myself and experiment with color and creation. I try to look at how artists have worked in the past, and use it to mold my own work. Mostly, I work two-dimensionally, using acrylic and watercolor, but I am beginning to explore three-dimensional sculptural works. I like to create abstractions of humans and animals.

Living in New York City has exposed me to a wide range of art, liberal viewpoints, and the great beauty that this city has to offer. From its many cultural institutions and towering skyscrapers, to the benches of Washington Square Park, New York has it all. Every time I go into Manhattan, the architecture, people, and culture mesmerize me. I make weekly trips to walk around SoHo and the West Village

Youth Insights attracted me because it challenges me not only as an art lover, but also as a student of art. It allows me to have a forum for my ideas on art and allows me to express that view with other people who appreciate art as much as I do. Through working with younger and older people and people my own age, I gain knowledge and experience interacting with various viewpoints.

I will be attending college in the fall of 2001, majoring in art history. I hope to work as a curator in a major museum in New York City. I intend to continue to work on my own art and hopefully have it displayed someday in galleries or in the Whitney Museum.


Hi, my name is Herminia (a.k.a. Mina). I'm a senior in high school in Queens. I was born in El Salvador and moved to Jamaica, New York in 1993 when I was ten.

I love reading Shakespeare, listening to pop music, learning more about technology, surfing the Internet, taking photographs, and writing entries in my journal. I take photographs and write for the yearbook committee in school, and I like playing volleyball. I love going to the movies and hanging out with my friends. I also enjoy working at the Queens Library Gallery and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Art is so beautiful because there are so many different interpretations of a single piece of work. It's a way to express your thoughts and feelings. It's interesting how much art relates to our history and how much we can learn by just looking at an artwork.

Being part of Youth Insights gives me an opportunity to interact with different age groups that have diverse cultures and backgrounds. It also helps me expand my horizons in American art and history. I like working with my peers, because we learn about each other's views and opinions. I don't have a favorite American artist yet; I enjoy pretty much all kinds of art and appreciate how each work brings our community closer together.

Next fall, I dream of attending New York University (NYU). I want to major in art history. After researching colleges, there is no doubt in my mind NYU is the right school for me. Viva la class 2001!


Hello! I'm Nahid. I was born in Bangladesh but grew up in Astoria, Queens. My biggest interest and dream is to travel around the world and really get a sense of its diversity. I also enjoy hanging out with friends, listening to music, and watching comedies and action movies.

The best thing about art is that there is no right or wrong; it's all about your perception. I love drawings, paintings, and animations. Though I have no talent in those areas, I do know how to make henna tattoos, and I create henna designs.

I am interested in Youth Insights because it enables teenagers to explore American art and really helps build communication skills. This program has already improved my communication skills, and has really made me feel comfortable around others.

Working with senior citizens is great and teaches you a lot about history! They have great information about some of the artworks that were made during their time. But nothing is more exciting to me than working with little kids. They are amazing! Their ideas and imaginations soar. Unlike our peers, the younger kids are more engaging and fun to be with.

In three years I see myself in college studying to be a pediatrician and having fun!


Hey, my name is Nelson. I was born in Spanish Harlem and am Puerto Rican. My interests are drawing, reading comics, Japanese animation, and playing video games. Art to me is anything that a person thinks of and brings to life for people to see.

My main interest is animation, especially Japanese animation, because of the art and technique. One that I like is Dragon Ball Z. I think it's the best action series that was ever made.

I'm interested in Youth Insights because of the people, and because art fascinates me. It's cool to work with all age groups because I learn and gain knowledge and wisdom from working with them. The people in Youth Insights are the greatest people you will ever meet.

In the future, I hope to be a cartoonist or a comic artist.


Hello, my name is Ranya. I attend high school in Manhattan and am in the eleventh grade. I live in Queens Village, New York. My father is Egyptian, and my mother is Jamaican. I just recently found out that my father's great-grandfather was French.

My interests include taking care of children, making them feel good, and making them laugh. I am also interested in marine biology; I like sea animals, especially the turtle, and I like swimming. I think it is really cool to be a synchronized swimmer, so I want to take classes.

What I like about art is that you are expressing your own feelings, and when you do that, you can never be wrong. Youth Insights allows me to give tours to all different age groups. I can give and receive knowledge about different art works and styles. The program gives me the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their cultures. I also learn how to interact with different people. I like working with older people because if they were living at the time when a picture was made, they can take you back and teach you about the time period in which the art was created. What I like about working with younger people is that they always seem to see something you overlooked. Since they are younger, they usually don't care what people think and are not afraid to speak their minds.

In three years I will be in college, hopefully in college taking courses at Cornell. I will be having fun, probably taking math, science, liberal arts, and language classes, and fulfilling my goal and dream of being a pediatrician.


Hi, I'm Rita. I was born and live in Queens, but my parents are from Italy. I'm currently a junior attending high school.

When I'm not at school or at the Whitney, I'm with my friends, shopping, watching a movie, or just sitting around and talking. My friends are important to me because they know me best. I treasure the time we spend together.

I joined Youth Insights for a second year because I love being surrounded by artwork, especially when it causes controversial reactions. That's probably why I enjoyed Barbara Kruger, the Biennial, and the American Century: Art & Culture, 1900-1950 exhibitions the most. Art is a way of expressing yourself and thinking about what's around you, even if it's controversial. Youth Insights also gives me an opportunity to spend time with people of different ages and learn about their insights on art.

In the future I want to go to college and major in education, social work, or art history. Whatever my degree happens to be, I want to make sure that I am helping people in the process. I hope to visit Europe soon, Italy in particular. I want to meet my father's side of the family in person and see where my parents grew up.


Hi, I am Shahrina, and I attend high school in Queens. I was born in Bangladesh but raised in Queens, New York. This is my second year at Youth Insights.

Some of my hobbies include drawing, dancing, and traveling. Archaeology interests me the most. I have been fascinated with old objects and artifacts for as long as I can remember. Art is also of great interest to me. Art gives something back to the people who look at it and gives the joy of self-expression to the people who make it.

At the Whitney, I have learned a lot about American art and about communicating with people of every background. Through Youth Insights, I have met people I would never have met if I hadn't joined this program. I have come across some wonderful people whom I will never forget.

I love to work with different age groups. It gives me insights into how and what people think. Working with young children is very refreshing because their perception of the artwork and the world in general is a lot different than those of grown-ups. By working with senior citizens, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the past. In some cases, while giving tours of artwork made in the early 1900s to senior citizens, I have come across people who have lived through the era. Their different interpretations of the art reveal their knowledge of the past. I am looking forward to another great year of building an "intergenerational conversation" through Youth Insights.

Ten years from now, I would like to be a well-known archaeologist and own a small business of some sort. I would also like to visit countries with interesting archaeological sites and study the cultures.


My name is Stephanie, and I go to high school in Manhattan. I live in Rego Park, Queens, where I was born. My ethnic background is Colombian.

I love to draw because it's something that I can do when I'm happy or sad. I also love to sing with my dad; it's a way in which we bond. One of the things I love about art is color. Color is the thing that really makes a picture.

I like Youth Insights because it helps me to interact with different age groups. I think that it is cool to work with older people. Like my grandparents, they make me laugh a lot. I also think it is cool to work with younger people because we can share ideas. Three years from now, I hope to have my master's degree in interior design.


My name is William. I was born in the Dominican Republic. Being raised in New York and living in Manhattan has given me a free attitude when it comes to expressing myself. As a Latino, I strive for achievement in life. The fact that I can succeed and become my own person is very exciting to me.

I'm very interested in the arts. I intend to become a performer involved in music and acting. Accounting is also something I'd like to do. My education is extremely important, so college is definitely in my plans. I feel that art is something natural, whether you paint, sculpt, draw, sing, or act. It is something that comes from inside, it's a way of expression and liberation.

So far, Youth Insights has given me a sense of responsibility, a kind of learning experience that is not your basic scholarly education. It's very cool to come in and share with so many people. I enjoy working with all age groups, but adults are more opinionated than kids are when they talk about art. As for artists, they bring something unique to the table, whether it's style, technique, or even personal values and morals. Each artist has an individual identity. I try to figure out what that is and see if it's something I identify and agree with.

I hope that three years from now I have a good life doing what I like to do, and I’m surrounded by the best people. I also hope that I can look back and see this experience as a learning stop on the journey toward what I will have become.



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

Learn more

Learn more at