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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 the National Dance Institute, Diller and Scofidio, Ellen Harvey, and Lorna Simpson.


Selam! That means "hello" in my native language, Amharic. I am Aida, a seventeen-year-old senior at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens. I have been living in Queens for about eleven years now, but I was born in the Bronx. I was raised by my grandmother in Ethiopia until I was four years old, before I returned to America to live with my parents. Although I was back in America, my grandmother played an important role in raising me and exposing me to my cultural heritage.

The Whitney Youth Insights program gives me the opportunity to interact with fourteen other teens and learn about their different backgrounds. One thing we have in common: we are all Americans who share an American culture and love of American art. I'm not an artist but I enjoy fashion and making my own designs. American art, to me, is unique because it covers a variety of styles and techniques, and can sometimes be controversial. Working at the Whitney allows me to expand my knowledge of art and interact with others, teaching and learning from them. Working with teens is a great opportunity to expose others my age to something they probably don't know is out there: programs, activities, events, and art they can relate to. I hope to learn from their experiences and knowledge about art and life.

When I'm not involved in my art or Youth Insights, I'm just like any other teen. I love shopping, ice skating, movies, music, dancing, and hanging out with friends. Right now, I'm very excited about going to college and starting something new. Once I'm in college I plan to study pre-law and go on to law school.


Hi, my name is Andrew, and I'm fifteen years old. I attend Stuyvesant High School in downtown Manhattan. I live in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn. My father is of Belarusian descent, while my mother is from the British Isles. In the area of siblings, I have one brother, and I suppose he's the reason that I became interested in art at an early age. Though neither of us were artists in the sense of drawing or painting, he would take me to the Brooklyn Museum nearly every weekend where I slowly became interested in the workings of museums and art.

Although I may not choose a job in the art world when I grow up, the Whitney's program is at least a portal into that world, and a good paradigm for the work world that we will all enter eventually. Though the museum teaches me a lot about art, it teaches other essential concepts as well, such as ideas of community and leadership. Overall the program has had a great effect on me.


I can tell you that my name is Angel, that I am a senior at Townsend Harris High School in Queens, and how I love to peel dried glue off my fingers and pop the bubbles from bubble wrap. I have five boobs and a Porsche. I invented the color maroon, and I also invented Post-it Notes. I can fly. I discovered the borough Staten Island, and I kick butt at Simon Says—not the electronic version though. I also love to make people laugh . . . but now the real deal.

I love Youth Insights because our learning process, visiting artists, and working through tours really made me feel that all art has beauty. I think that everyone could understand this if they learned a little something about art and then explored it through their own feelings.

One of my many goals is to create, write, design, and host an educational television series for children. I believe that making education interesting and exciting for children is the main ingredient in seeing our young ones' curiosity and intelligence grow. If that future career fails, I am sure my "excellent" guitar and singing skills will get me places, like the local coffee house or the subway. Whatever it is, if you love something, go for it. You do not need talent, just passion, and that passion will shine through. And for my last words: "If the world didn't suck, we would all fall off."


My name is Anita and I go to LaGuardia High School in Manhattan as an art major. I was born in Manhattan and raised in Brooklyn, where I currently reside. My hobbies are reading, drawing, writing, and working on my website.

I enjoy reading because I learn new and interesting things through the written word. I enjoy writing because it's a way to express myself. Working on my website teaches me patience and enables me to explore my creative side.

When I first heard of Youth Insights, I was very excited. I was always interested in learning about different types of art and how and why museums choose specific artwork to be displayed. I think working with younger and older people takes patience, which is a good skill for me to develop. I don't have a favorite artist; each and every artist is special in his or her unique way. In the future, I plan to go to college, get a degree, a good job, and live comfortably. I have yet to figure out what career I wish to pursue but graphic design and software design seem interesting to me.


Hi, my name is Brian. I am a seventeen-year-old working at the Whitney, and I love my job because I became interested in art after seeing a Keith Haring show that showed me I could be an artist. Art is for everyone, so now I make my own video art because I went to more museums and was inspired by artists who I give tours on now. I made a documentary for WNYE Channel 25 with other Youth Insights teensThrough this project I learned about Rooftop Films, which is a really cool place to hang out in Brooklyn. I'm going to the Fashion Institute of Technology in the fall. I drink Sir Real apple cider when I am painting, playing the guitar, writing music, directing a film, or writing a script.

I always wear my art shoes that have Van Gogh on one shoe and a Picasso painting on the other, so remember to look down and make sure that you really read this whole bio when you come and see me. The secret word to whisper in my ear is "Warholsoup." If you remember to tell me, I'll draw you a picture.


Hi, my name is Chris and I am sixteen years old. I go to Martin Van Buren High School where I am a sophomore. I joined Youth Insights because I wanted some job experience, and how many teens can say "I work at the Whitney Museum?

My interests are sports and going out. My favorite sport to play is basketball. My favorite sport to watch is football. I love to just go out, just walk around and talk. I also like to listen to rap, R & B, and some rock—some of the music is just addictive. The movies I like to watch are comedy and action movies. I may not be a die-hard fan of art, but I like to doodle from time to time, and I like to do graffiti on the walls and on desks in schools. Well, this is my bio, and I hope to meet some of the Youth Insights newcomers at the alumni reunion. Also, peace!


Hey everybody, I'm the extremely beautiful Crystal; yeah that's me. I live in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and attend Edward R. Murrow High School. I guess that you could say that I am culturally diffused since I have lived in New York City all of my life. I am a Jamaican-American, and I can honestly say that Caribbean culture influences the way that I behave and everything that defines me.

I have many interests, including music, movies, and sports. Music is my favorite thing because it expresses emotions that words can't define. I enjoy movies because they are a visual book with people you know (actors) portraying other people. To me there is nothing more interesting than that. I really enjoy baseball and tennis. Recently, I have been getting into football.

I want to be an entertainer. And if that doesn't work out—which it will—I want to become a psychologist. Now I know what you're thinking, if she likes music, movies, and sports so much then why is she at the Whitney? I have an answer. The Whitney is a museum of art, and from working here I have come to realize that art comes in many different forms. So I am interested in art, just not the type most people are used to. Ever since I came here I have been introduced to such a wide range of people, personalities, and art. The bonds that I have formed with all the other Youth Insights participants are the type of bonds that will last forever.


March 3, 1985 . . it was on that fateful evening when the eighteen-year-long odyssey that is my life began. My father, Clas, who is from Sweden, and my mother, Kathe, who is from Brooklyn, decided to name me Erik. I've lived in Manhattan all my life and I currently attend The Dalton School. I've loved drawing and creating art for as long as I can remember, but I thought that only certain people could create "good" art. "Artists" were a select group of untouchables, demigods in a pantheon guarded by a chimera.

Then a couple of years ago my aunt gave me a biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat. It is no coincidence that after falling in love with Basquiat, art started to consume my life. I began to realize my own love for painting, and took it seriously. Basquiat slew the chimera, and presented me with a real sense of what art can be. For Basquiat, it seemed as if art and life were one. I feel the same way. Art is amazing, and the Youth Insights program has allowed me to become even more involved with it.


Hey, I'm Evie. This is my second year in Youth Insights. I wanted to be in Youth Insights because of my love of art—both making it and learning about it. Learning about art in depth has only been one great part of my Youth Insights experience. I became part of a community with a super-cool bunch of people and I was able to engage in discussions about art with people of all different ages and backgrounds.

It has been an extremely gratifying experience teaching these kids about art and helping them love art as much as I do. Because of this, I have considered becoming a teacher of art or art history, something I had never thought about before my participation in Youth Insights.

Next year I hope to be in college studying art and art history, not living in my parents house, and having a good time. In ten years I hope to still be making art, have a career that somehow incorporates working with young kids, and have an awesome apartment in the city.


My name is Ian. I hail from the Bronx. I am an art student attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, and this is my senior year. In February, I was part of the senior art show, exhibiting a sample of my art done on my computer. I have also been an illustrator for the teen publication New Youth Communications.

Photography has been my passion for over five years. I can't draw as well as I wish I could, so I adopted photography as my forte. I have done graphic design and silkscreen. I would also like to learn how to play the guitar, and maybe even the piano—again.

I hope to attend either The Cooper Union or The School of Visual Arts and I plan on majoring in photography. I'm pursuing a career in advertising, photojournalism, and maybe web design. One thing that is really unnerving to me, is that there isn't enough love in the world and things are just getting worse. I'm the person who is going to save it.


Hola, me llamo Karin. You can call me Karen or you can call me Karín, with an accent over the "i." Okay, now you know my name. Let's talk about who Karin is.

I am seventeen years old and I currently reside in the Bronx, where I have lived most of my life. I was born in a small town called La Romana, in the Dominican Republic. My mom and I came to this country when I was about five. I cannot even explain how much pride I have for the Dominican Republic. I love it to death, and I would not change it for anything. Everything about it: the beaches, the sun, the coconuts, the laughs, and the people, they all form a part of who I am.

I attend Aquinas High School for girls in the Bronx. My favorite extracurricular activities include swimming and track. I try to run whenever I have the chance. My main hobbies are dancing and art. One thing that I enjoy about art is that there are no right or wrong answers. The experience that I've shared in the Youth Insights program has given me a broader definition of art. I don't have a full grip on my exact identity because I am still changing. Very soon I will be embarking on an independent journey to adulthood. Youth Insights is helping me get there.


Num-rith-aa (that's me).

As an Asian American, I always wanted to break away from the conservative values, to be my own person, and to find a true meaning in life. I attend high school in Staten Island, where I am the vice president of the Indian/Pakistani Club, a member of the Key Club, and the editor of the school newspaper. Aside from being a Youth Insights participant, I am also an intern in a congressman's office.

Art allows people to express themselves. Nothing is ever wrong or right. Art can be a place to find common ground. One can always communicate their emotions through art. My curiosity in the philosophical aspect of art encouraged me to become part of the Youth Insights program. The most valuable experience is gained when you truly get to know people and what they think, regardless of their background.

In my free time, you can catch me on the Internet, surfing or chatting away. I enjoy shopping, singing, and dancing, relaxing and sleeping, going to the movies, and bowling. I have a huge interest in philosophy as well. I also love meeting new people. In the near future, I would like to pursue a career in law, perhaps as a criminal lawyer, or with some type of government position. I am really interested in the liberal arts and social sciences.

My experience as a Youth Insights participant has helped me express my own observations with clarity and imagination. I am now captivated by a world that I tended to overlook and not give enough importance.


Hey everyone. My name is Ray and I am a junior at Vanguard High School in Manhattan. I live on the Upper East Side and have lived there almost all my life. My mother was a mixture of African American and Puerto Rican. My father is just purely Egyptian.

Youth Insights has shown me an artist's mind and helped me understand the everyday struggles that artists endure. One of the things I love about life is that there are so many different types of people out there, and each of them has a certain thing to bring to the table.

As for my interests, I love to read and act, and I've always wanted to have my own action flick. I also know how to dance ballet, modern, and jazz. I enjoy Youth Insights and it's definitely something to look into whether or not you like art; after all, the program is what you make of it.


As the third child, I always found some way to be independent. Playing by myself was a joy, when others yearned for attention. Now that I am eighteen, I realize that Interacting with others betters yourself in some type of way. It is hard to believe that I love being by myself since I am known as a people person. I grew up in Oakland, California, then moved to New York to live with my mother. I pushed myself to be different and open-minded, and that is how I fell in love with the arts. Art is an inner part of my soul.

Tutoring after school and working at the Museum are really different. Yet they share something in common: they make me interact with others and help me work and share with others. I've changed over the years, and my style as an artist has evolved. I always look to my special qualities as an individual. The Whitney is now that long lost friend that I hoped for in the sixth grade. I do not know if I want to be an artist in the future, but I do know the Whitney will always be that friend when art is needed in my life.



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

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