Skip to main content

Youth Insights

Fall 2009
With Suzanne Bennett

Working with artist-in-residence Suzanne Bennett, the YI Writers studied different interpretations of landscape, using some of the innovative approaches in the exhibition Roni Horn aka Roni Horn as inspiration. Each teen selected their materials and the processes they would use, and worked over several weeks to design and realize a piece that would convey their own perception of landscape. The works incorporate painting, drawing, photography, collage, poetry, and a variety of materials from charcoal and oil paint to found materials. In addition, the YI Writers worked to make visual and material connections between their pieces, so that they fit together into a larger, mixed media landscape that suggests the diversity of the city they all inhabit.


Hi, my name is Bernadette and I stand five feet, four inches from the ground up. I was brought into this world on March 29, 1990, so that makes me an Aries. I’m Puerto Rican but born and raised in the Bronx.

Writing is my passion. That’s the reason why I chose to participate in the Youth Insights Writers program at the Whitney. I feel like art and writing are a perfect combination of tools to express your true feelings. I never really understood how you could express your feelings through art until I completed a project last year where I combined art and my poems into a book that I made by hand. The Whitney has been very inspiring for me. 

I like to read and write love poetry. I’m a social person who loves to talk; I would talk you to death if you let me. Giving advice is something I enjoy. Never give up on anything you find hard. Even if you feel like you can’t accomplish it, you should still never give up. Those are my words to everybody everywhere.


I am sixteen and in my junior year at the Bronx High School of Science. I love art history and criticism as well as four-field anthropology. Interdisciplinary studies have always held my interest, particularly social theory due to its broad applicability to many fields. I grew up in Lower Manhattan and academically excel at history, literature, and biology. Art history is appealing because it is a component of social history and social history is part of cultural anthropology.

The Youth Insights program was appealing to me because of writing and art. My interest in critical theory drew me to the program as a way to explore contemporary art in the context of a broader social examination. The writing track also seemed appropriate because writing and art are two different disciplines and their intersection is intriguing.

Other experiences in the arts include a class with Rika Burnham at the Frick Collection. It cemented my sense of art as part of history and also heightened my aesthetic sensibilities.


Well to start, I’m Claire and I’m currently in the Whitney’s Youth Insights Writers Program. I was born on Staten Island (home of the Wu-Tang Clan and formerly the world’s largest landfill) seventeen years ago, and have remained here ever since.

What can be considered art is one of the most debated topics, and it is one we explore in this program. Personally, I believe art is a creation conceptualized in an artist’s mind and then formed by a type of medium, whether it be paint on canvas, charcoal drawings, photographs, or films, even just sounds. The medium can be anything one allows it to be.

Art isn’t the only thing that inspires me. I’m inspired by many things such as music, film, philosophy, literature, politics, social studies, and more. Aside from participating in Youth Insights, I partake in political, environmental, community and artistic groups at my school. All of these factors help to shape me into who I am.

The future is a reasonably long time. I would say I plan on working in a gallery and creating art and writing on the side, but times change. Whatever I wind up doing, I just want to be glad I‘m doing it.


I'm Crystal, and I go to Victory Collegiate High School. I grew up in Brooklyn for a pretty long time. I feel that growing up in Brooklyn affected the way I view things. Growing up in Brooklyn has made me stronger than ever.

In my free time, I like to read books and go on the Internet. I applied to the Youth Insights program to gain a new experience, learn about public speaking, and also to receive high school credit.

I think art is important because art lets you express yourself in ways you wouldn't think you would be able to.

In ten years, I see myself being a lawyer because I love to defend people. That's how I like to express myself.


Hi, my name is Denae and I am fourteen years old. I attend the Bronx High School for Visual Arts. I normally call my school BSHVA as a little nickname because it is easier. 

The first thing that I have to say is that I’m very wild and crazy. When I'm with my friends, I’m the insane awesome one. A lot of the people that I know take a while to learn my name, because they say it’s hard, so they just call me "Colors." To be honest with you, the way that I say that my personality is wild and crazy may not sound very good, but I’m actually really proud of myself and confident.

In the future, I want to go to three different colleges and universities over the course of eight years and graduate with my PhD. I want to further my studies with art, particularly fashion design, photography, and graphic design. When I grow older I want to be a graphic designer. Even though I really don’t believe in having a plan B, if it becomes necessary, for my fall-back occupation I would love to be a firefighter.


I’m Francesca. Currently I am a sophomore at Packer Collegiate Institute. I have lived in New York all my life, except for six months when I was ten and we lived in France. I remember as a young girl my father would drag me to museums and galleries to see different shows. One of my first memories of seeing art was going to an exhibition of Impressionist painters, seeing a pastel drawing of a ballerina by Edgar Degas, and being mesmerized by her beauty and simplicity. Ever since then, I have looked at art in a different way. To me, art is anything that has gone through a creative process, and by creative process I mean a process or system in which somebody uses their imagination to use whatever resources they choose. 

This year, I really wanted to discover and take advantage of the city more, and since one of my big interests is art, I was drawn to the Youth Insights program. It also appealed to me because I am interested in other people’s views of art and in artistic collaborations.


Art has always been a part of who I am, ever since I was five. Throughout my life, all I wanted to be was a cartoon artist. Growing up, I always had the drive to make a lot of pictures. Now, I'm writing my own comic book called Chaos World.

The character of my comic book looks more like the style of Manga than American comic books, but like all comic books, the emphasis is on the action. So far I have finished four parts of Chaos World and am still working on part five. The message is that the main character, Unege, is between heaven and hell, and he has powers from both because he is a hybrid. His goal is to protect the world from the prophecy of the war between heaven and hell. My version of heaven is made of feathers and hell is made of warlocks. After years of being influenced by Stan Lee, George Lucas, and Akira Toriyama, it is now my turn to follow in their footsteps and make a comic book that will attract viewers around the world.


My name is Kate and I was born and raised as a city girl.

Ever since I was a little girl, my dad has taken me to museums and taught me how to appreciate art. My dad would take me to the Brooklyn Museum and play a special game with me. First I would look at one of the model rooms for two minutes. Then I would turn around, he would ask me a question about the room, and I would have to answer from memory. A popular question was “How many candles are in the room?” and by the time I was older, I knew what to look for in the room.

While my dad was the first person to introduce me to art, as I have gotten older, I have taken the initiative upon myself to learn more about it. I first learned of Youth Insights when my teacher from a class I had taken at the Guggenheim sent me the link to the Youth Insights web page. I hope one day to be back working at the Whitney again.


My name is Kia and I currently attend the High School of Fashion Industries where I major in Business and Marketing. I was born in Brooklyn, and I am the only child of my mother who is my strength. Ever since I was a young girl, I've been very much in love with the performing arts. Over the years, I've grown to love photography and still life drawings. During my free time I love to write (making English Language Arts my favorite subject), go to the movies, and of course, shop.

I came to Youth Insights because I wanted something to do after school that involved writing, having fun, and meeting new people, all at the same time. After two months of being here, I couldn't ask for anything more. My goals for the near future are to attend a four-year university and double major in midwifery and business and marketing. Although my goals have nothing to do with art, art will always have a place in my heart. I just can't live without it.


My name is Korneil. I am a senior at the Automotive High School in Brooklyn. I currently hold two jobs. The first is with the Youth Insights program where I collaborate with my peers to critically discuss work by various artists and develop my creative writing. The second is with the Greenpoint Youth Court Program, where we work to provide support to teens that have committed negative acts in the community.

In addition to working, I also participate in other activities. I studied martial arts for over five years and achieved a black belt in the first degree. I also play the piano, play all types of sports, and love to write poetry. My goal is to become a successful lawyer by studying political science in the fall (2010) at college, and attend a great law school in the future.

I reside in Saint Albans, a section of Queens. I am so glad to be a part of the Youth Insights Program because, to me, art is an illustration that conveys a message to different groups of people. Art also lets people view and express their opinions differently.


I'm Monica, the girl that loves to play music and write with a passion. I come from a family of fun and adventurous people. We like to make people laugh and use lots of sarcasm. I've always liked to write since I was a kid.

What brought me to Youth Insights? The fact that I was going to get a chance to work at a museum, because I love museums. They feel so safe to be in and they feel like home to me.

I love all of the arts, but I like music, writing, film, and photography the most. I would love to do something with any one of them. I love everything about art with a passion. It is truly everything to me. It is what makes me myself. It is what makes life worth living for. Life inspires me, and art inspires me along the way.

In the future, I hope I get to do something that I love, not something my parents make me do just to become successful. I hope it will be something involving music, writing, film, or photography, but whatever it is, I just want art to be a part of it.


My name is Phiomedia  

I grew up in Harlem, but now I reside in the Bronx.

I am half Native American and half African American, and I enjoy both of my cultures.

I view myself as an independent individual who loves self- expression.

I think of myself as the yin/yang sign: I have two sides that merge to make one great person.

I enjoy writing poems and short stories, especially short stories about science fiction and romance.

My favorite hobbies are abstract drawing and interior/exterior landscape painting.

My goal in life is to be an emergency room doctor and give people second chances at life.

I love Japanese music and sing it frequently.

I am learning to speak Japanese, French, and Romanian.

I love Egyptian symbols and use them in my drawings.

I am a Shakespearean and love all work made in the Renaissance.

I would have loved to have been born in the 1800s (the dresses were exquisite).

I'm in a band called Black Rose Blasé and I am the second lead singer.

I play the piano, recorder, drums, and acoustic guitar.

If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be spontaneous.


Guess who the Sandman is named after? Sandy, sophomore at Hunter College High School. I'm sixteen years old, one of the oldest in my grade, but also one of the most immature. I have an eclectic personality, in my social and academic life.

Art in my previous definition consisted only of Classical and Baroque paintings and the Greco-Roman sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has, of course, since then expanded. Starting with the time my great-grandfather gave me a watercolor set equipped with only the primary colors, and told me to draw a white rose on a white background, I began to see art beyond its lines and figureheads. Modern art became just as enjoyable as the styles of the past.

In my life outside the windowless walls of Hunter, I am a fanatic about drama, bad music, books, and culture. I am addicted to the Internet, and the TV is my best friend (compared to textbooks, yes). There are many things that are a part of me, and I could go on and on forever, but I suppose that the easiest way to describe me is just to say that I am Sandy.


Hi, my name is Tyresa. Currently I am a senior at the High School of Art and Design. I have majored in photography for the past two-and-a-half years. I find photography a way to tell a story: my story through the eyes of a camera.

I hope to someday go to college and study journalism. Journalism is something that I feel can help me see different avenues of life and to become better in tune with myself. I will learn different ways of viewing, and help to show and describe aspects of someone else’s life. I hope to live my life to the fullest and break through barriers of race, sex, and gender.

My dreams are limitless, I hope to attain a little of each. Someday I hope to reach my goals. Some steps I hope to go through to attain my goals are going to college and attaining a degree in telecommunications or journalism. I would love someday to travel abroad and research different cultures and populations. Being a well-rounded person will provide a fruitful life for me. I live in Brooklyn and will someday see beyond the streets of New York.



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

Learn more

Learn more at