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Youth Insights

Spring 2016
With Nina Chanel Abney

On Wednesdays, Youth Insights Artists worked with artist Nina Chanel Abney to create a collaborative mural and their own paintings that mash-up two seemingly disparate subjects from contemporary culture.  


Amanata is a junior at The Hewitt School and lives in Brooklyn. She is a middle child, and her parents are from Guyana. Amanata was a Youth Insights Artist last semester; she enjoyed it so much that she had to do it again! Her favorite artists are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kanye West, and Beyoncé Knowles. She finds inspiration in her teachers as well. Amanata loves photography, art history, contemporary art, and every kind of music that isn’t country. In the future, she hopes to go to college outside of New York City and travel the world.

This painting was mostly inspired by things I heard in my school and saw in the media. I was disappointed that my community and the media only viewed black and brown individuals from one perspective. Black and brown men were demonized and black and brown women were seen as exotic. I decided to use stencils because I am more comfortable working with photography. With stencils, I thought that I could paint quicker and more easily. This piece is supposed to represent how black and brown bodies are displayed in the media. I wanted the motifs to be simple so that the viewer could project their own thoughts onto the canvas.


Amanda was born in Brooklyn. Her family is from the South and Belize. Amanda came to Youth Insights to try something new, and learn about art in a different way. She has no favorite artists, but finds inspiration in life, fashion, and games. In the future, Amanda hopes to become a professional illustrator.

Bubblegum Luminosity
My project was inspired primarily by the company Lush because I love their bath products, though my love for pastels also played a big role in this painting. I wanted to express the happiness and sense of beauty I feel when I’m in the bath. I enjoy working with my hands and creating colors. I created at least three different pinks just for this painting. My biggest conflict was creating the exact color I wanted, and whenever I came back to it I had to figure out a new way to recreate the color again. I believe I achieved the beauty I wanted to express.


Fayina was born in Guyana. She came to Youth Insights because she wants to find her passion. Fayina thinks of art as a means to express oneself, with no right or wrong way to do it. She is inspired by what she reads, whether in print or on Tumblr. She also likes music. In the future, Fayina hopes to be successful and discover her passion.

Social media and the real world inspired my project which was based on something more personal than factual. I started off incorporating many different women of color but decided to just focus on one type because it made me feel more connected to the artwork. The background contains a lot of color, which conveys the idea of hope. The woman is painted inside the circle to represent the idea that women are often told that their opportunities are limited because they are women. The black outline of the circle represents the sense of darkness in a woman’s life due to the strain that is put on her. 


Born and raised in New York, Georgia lives in Greenwich Village. She’s Cuban, English, and German. She joined Youth Insights Artists because she wanted to work at a museum and was already familiar with the Whitney. For her, art is self-expression. She is passionate about world travel and experiencing different cultures.

Untitled (Wave)
This painting was inspired by a sculpture of a wave that I built out of sea glass and the sharp shapes and vibrant colors that Nina Chanel Abney uses as the background in her paintings. A wave is an organic form that suggests a lack of control. The free blue and green brushstrokes that create the wave are in direct contrast to the forms of the ridged yellow, red, and white triangles. They interact and overlap to create a dynamic and chaotic environment.


Ivan was born and raised in Brooklyn. He wants to improve his artistic skills—particularly his ability to critique effectively. He believes art is about developing the ability to express feelings, emotions, and ideas. Ivan plays guitar, hikes, and is inspired by his own experiences as well as those of the people around him and nature. In the future, he hopes to have a creative job where he can express himself and his ideas.

Bud's Medicine
My painting is based on Bud Cox, the creator of the adventure program at my summer camp. The program brought a stronger love for the outdoors to the camp, along with creating a friendlier, more accepting community. Bud called the new program Adventure Village, commonly shortened to Advill, hence the title of the painting. This was the first painting I have attempted since middle school. I painted slowly and wasn’t able to fully finish it—making this experience a good lesson in time management.


Joyce comes from Queens. She’s Chinese, and a sophomore at St. John’s Prep School. Joyce was a Youth Insights Artist last semester and decided to return because she really enjoyed the experience. She loves making art, and is inspired by everything around her. Joyce is passionate about drawing and traveling, and she tries to draw her journey as a visual diary. She isn’t sure what she wants to do in the future, but she hopes to explore more options throughout the program.

Thow Away Sushi
When people are enjoying the deliciousness of sushi, do they ever think that it might contain lead from heavy metal that people throw into the oceans and rivers as trash? Rapid population growth and over-development of the earth has destroyed the environment. Water pollution is one of the most important environmental issues we are faced with. The living species in the water consume or absorb the toxicity from the trash and ultimately become the sushi on the table. In the end, our inconsiderate polluting of the environment harms us.  


Julius is a junior at Stuyvesant High School. His parents emigrated from the Philippines. A friend introduced him to Youth Insights, and he is participating in the program to broaden his horizons. Julius believes art provides insight into the ways people think. He doesn’t have any favorite artists per se, but he likes Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and George Tooker’s The Subway (1950). Julius is interested in photography and finds nearly everything inspiring. It is too soon to tell what he wants to do in the future.

I was inspired by the current presidential race and its apparent absurdity. The main theme of my work is the feeling of confusion the current presidential race seems to instill in the public. The candidates and their rhetoric appear all over the news and social media, and they seem to attract a fanatic following. The presidential race has made its way into popular culture, glorifying some politicians and criticizing others. Some people seem to think that its outcome will decide whether or not the world will break down.

I juxtaposed images of food with political figures to elicit the feeling of absurdity. The figures from left to right are Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump. Hillary’s head is a burger to compare her to fast food companies that hide the unhealthy ingredients in their products. Bernie’s head is a SpongeBob popsicle from an ice cream truck to suggest how idealistic the image of the popsicle is, but how it might not live up to expectations when you open its wrapper. Donald Trump’s head is a cheese grater because he’s extremely abrasive.


Justin is from the Bahamas. His art teacher recommended Youth Insights to him because of his interest in art. Justin believes art is about your feelings, and free expression. His favorite artists are TATS Cru. Justin likes to draw, play basketball, and watch movies. He is inspired by all kinds of people, but especially his brother. In the future, he hopes to run an art gallery and live in a mansion.

St. Tropez


Karol is from Colombia. Her art teacher told her about Youth Insights and she is very excited to be involved in the program. To Karol, art is about expression and ideas. Her favorite artists are Vincent Van Gogh and Fernando Botero. Karol likes drawing, traveling, and music. She is incredibly inspired by her family, people, and the environment around her. She hopes to travel around the world making movies, speak at least three languages, and fly an airplane.

Raining Stars
I wanted to convey all the feelings that I had in the process of creating this painting. I also wanted to express how the darkness of night and the moon can be seen as simply majestic! It all depends on how you see. One of my favorite things is the night. The earth and the sky are a perfect balance. I wanted to show how the moon shines on the water.


Katie was born in Colorado but has moved around a lot. She attends Millennium High School. Katie has lived in the Rocky Mountain region, New Jersey, and New York. She has a German background. Katie has always loved art, and finds that she can see it throughout the world around her. She loves Salvador Dalí, Paul Cézanne, writing, music, and traveling anywhere. People inspire her. In the future, she hopes to be involved in the medical or arts field.

Remains of Quixotic County
My painting is about my admiration for different people, and my experiences growing up around the mountains. Moving around the United States, I’ve encountered many people whose various characteristics continue to impact my judgement and perspective. I respect the array of relationships that I have, and try to focus on learning more about others to broaden my consciousness. I have always been inspired by nature, so including a natural aspect in my piece seemed essential. It was a challenge to blend these two concepts in a way that allowed for them to balance each other and create flow. Using acrylic paint allowed me to depict my inspirations, and create a sense of movement throughout my artwork. I am presenting, in an abstract way, the connections and contrasts between the natural world and human nature. I hope to make a statement about appreciating the natural world while noting the quirks in people we see and talk to every day.


Layla is from New York, but her family is from Florida and the South. She is an art major and this is her second semester in Youth Insights Artists. She believes art is expression, and that it means various things to different people. Layla’s favorite artists are Pablo Picasso and Kanye West. She has more interests than she can list, but they include music, art, and literature. She is inspired by satire, Shakespeare, and The Onion. In the future, Layla hopes to be an author.

I hit a few bumps in the road with this painting. In the beginning, I had a vision that didn’t really take off. I began to create these 1950s comic book girls that were fun to draw, but not to paint. I looked up examples, but as I started painting I realized that’s not what I wanted. Once I got into the swing of things I had plenty of fun. I didn’t even procrastinate and I actually like what I’ve created. If I could do something different I’d mix the background color more. I had a lot of fun and I’d probably make multiples if I could. But for now I hope whoever sees this enjoys it.


Marcus lives in Harlem. He is Chinese. Marcus doesn’t have any favorite artists, and believes that art can come in many different forms. Marcus has been swimming and playing piano since he was four, and counts his mother as his inspiration. In the future, Marcus would like to teach world history.

Boy & Girl
I am conveying the message that it is not okay to bully or pick on a male who looks feminine or who negates the guy code in mainstream society. I hope my audience will realize that many boys and men are victimized, based on their physical appearance and behavior. Boys are criticized for crying and not being tough around other males. I used black to surround the individual in my painting and illustrate the darkness and cruelty he suffers from others.


Matthew lives in Spanish Harlem and attends The Clinton School for Writers. He has an Italian and Irish background. To Matthew, art means having a voice when you can’t speak. His favorite artists are Robert Kirkman, David Smalls, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, and others in every genre of music. Matthew is passionate about sneaker culture (with a particular fondness for Jordans), boxing, Family Guy, and sketching. He is particularly inspired by his cousin. In the future Matthew hopes to be financially stable, go to Michigan, and be 5’11”.

Out Of The Dark


Rose is from New York City. She is Italian, Native American, and Scott-Irish. Rose heard about Youth Insights when the museum moved to its new location. This is her second time in Youth Insights Artists. Her favorite artists are Rachel Rose and Vincent van Gogh. She likes to bake. In the future, Rose hopes to become a curator at a museum or art gallery.

Red, White, And Blue

I am normally a perfectionist when it comes to my art. I plan everything from the colors to the subject matter. However, after hearing Nina Chanel Abney talk about her art and how she does not pre-plan what she paints, I was inspired to let my hand be my guide instead of my head and make my painting more spontaneous. I knew that if I did not limit myself at all, the painting would be an absolute mess, so I only allowed myself to use three colors: red, white, and blue. My painting was an attempt to create something that I did not have to overthink.


Tyrique is a junior at Millennium High School, born in New York, and currently living in Bushwick. He’s Puerto Rican, black, and a binge-watcher by nature. Tyrique loves museums, and believes art is its own language. His favorite artist is Chuck Close. He enjoys Project Runway and Face Off, which he counts among his inspirations. Tyrique plans on being a food critic, in movies and on television.

Selling Pussy
My painting is a combination of the issue of prostitution and my favorite thing to watch: cat videos. I combined these two things within the painting by essentially saying that cats are being sold just like prostitutes for entertainment. Animals have rights and they should not be limited by society.



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

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