Skip to main content

Youth Insights


In 2008-2009, YI teens worked with Rashawn Griffin, Xaviera Simmons, and Spencer Finch. The exploration of place, site specificity, and identity through sculpture and photography is a major theme of Griffin’s installations and was a focus of the Spring 2009 Artist in Residence program. Griffin worked with YI teens in conjunction with the exhibitions Sites and Artists Making Photographs. The teens explored their ideas of place by photographing sculptural objects that they discovered around them or created themselves using found materials. Over several weeks, they continued to investigate the same idea in different media, creating sculptures, photographs, digital images, and writing around their chosen theme.

Brooklyn-based artist Xaviera Simmons combines twenty-first-century media with traditional art forms, encompassing photography, performance, video, and installation. During Fall 2008, YI teens participated in gallery discussions with Simmons and museum staff, exploring the exhibition William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 and what it means to be an artist in a community. Teens were instructed to go out and document the communities with which they identified. These photographs were compiled into a final collection and made into a bound portfolio.

Spencer Finch has played with light and color to create works of art that explore specific spaces. In Summer 2008, using the Whitney as their site andFinch’s High Line installation The River That Flows Both Ways as their inspiration, the teens made their own installation from refuse they found around the Museum’s offices. They were able to awaken concerns about the environment and firmly ground their work as part of the expanding green movement.


Art is like a plant which grows to become a forest. It's your imagination and beyond your knowledge. It’s the creation of an inspiration, technique, and desire. It opens one's mind to many questions; there’s no right or wrong answer. My name is Amadu and I’m a junior at the School for Writing for Communication and Arts. I come from Ghana, located in West Africa. My family and I immigrated to America because it represents the land of opportunity, and I've been here ever since I was five years old. My folks always used to stress the three D’s: dedication, determination, and discipline. My other interests are playing sports, music, and hanging out with friends. People inspire me, because we all can learn from each other. In the future I hope to accomplish my mini goals and dreams, and to help change society.


My name is Ashton. I’m a sixteen-year-old junior in high school and I’ve experienced a lot throughout my life. I was born in Harlem, New York, but my parents are from the West African country of Benin, which is also a francophone country, meaning that most of the inhabitants speak French. This is one reason that I am fluent in French. From kindergarten to the end of middle school, I attended schools in Harlem until I got accepted to the High School of Art and Design. Before this school, art was more of something that I did for competition with friends, but now art is a major portion of my life, more than it ever used to be.

Although I really love art, there are other things that are of interest in my life. For instance, I fence for my school's fencing team and I also play handball on my school's handball team, and when I’m not playing sports I love to watch Chinese kung fu films.


I’m currently 16 years old and hoping not to age past 18 years. I was born here, but my parents are from Mexico and I would say I’m rather very proud of where I am from. My country also has much art and is also known for famous artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

I love the rock genre—from classic rock to metal. I’m a hard worker at everything that I dedicate myself to. I also like to believe that I’m a very philosophical person, but for the most part, my thoughts revolve around improvement, and that is what I would like to try to make a part of my art. I love playing sports but my favorite is soccer, and currently I’m trying to take up skateboarding.

I’m in the tenth grade and so far it’s good. To me, art means things like freedom that should be able to inspire a person and make them stop and think. I’m dedicated to becoming an architectural engineer when I grow up. I know that it will consist of a lot of hard work and creativity, but I’m going for it.


My name is Charlotte, I am 16 years old, and in tenth grade at The Dalton School. My family has been living in New York for many generations but as far as I know, my ancestors originally came from somewhere in Europe.

I have been interested in dance all my life and attended the School of American Ballet for seven years, where I studied ballet intensely and performed in multiple Balanchine ballets. Since quitting I have been learning modern dance, watercolor, and classical painting both in and out of school.

To me, art is a way of expressing an idea, emotion, or inspiring the audience to think. Art doesn’t have to be something found in a museum like a painting or a sculpture, but it can also be a piece of music or choreography. In my own art, I’m often influenced by other artists, other works of art, or my surroundings. I don’t have any specific goals for the future as far as what I want to be when I’m older, but I hope I am always open and able to participate and appreciate the arts.


My name is Crystal. I’m a senior from the Academy of Environmental Science High School. I’m from the Uptown Eastside of Harlem in Manhattan. My family originated from many European countries, but we consider our motherland Puerto Rico.

My interests are drawing, writing, playing my guitars, skateboarding, playing sports, singing, dancing, and eating chocolate. I love video games, watching anime all the time, and constant conversation about it. I love Japan and hope to go there someday. I’m into all types of music but my main genres are rock and especially J-rock, which is awesome.

I love art. My whole life revolves around it. Everywhere I go, I draw, even in class. There is no escaping it. It has always been my passion. You can say it’s sort of an innate thing. My dad was my inspiration for drawing. He’s an excellent artist and I’ve learned all I know from him. My future goal is to create an incredible RPG (role playing game) and a really great manga that will hook manga lovers. I would love to see my art work in a museum someday.


I'm Eve. I live in the East Village and I attend Bard High School Early College. Since I was young, my life has been focused around art. My mother is a filmmaker and graphic designer, and she has been a big inspiration for me. I have participated in both the Youth Insights Artist in Residence and Contemporary Community programs. Right now, I am learning about all different kinds of art. I primarily paint, draw and take photographs. In the future, I hope to work in the arts, either curating exhibitions, teaching art or making art.


My name is Jairo. I am sixteen years old and a high school junior at Bronx Preparatory Charter School. I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. My interests include listening to Hip-Hop music, playing soccer, and reading comics. Art to me is more than a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. Art to me means opportunity and a form of expression.

What inspires me is people, with specific reference to established and celebrated folks. People like Nas, my mother, my teachers, and anyone else who is dope. I hope to be an established and celebrated artist when I grow up and to have a defining characteristic that is synonymous with my art or me.



My name is Joel. I am from the Dominican Republic. I’ve been living in the United States for about four years now. Back in the Dominican Republic my hobbies and interests were the same as most of my friends. I used to listen to pop, rock, some Hip-Hop, and very little reggaeton. I am a regular guy because as popular culture was changing, I did too, so did every friend I had.


“To live is to write, to write is to draw. But to draw does not always mean to paint, just like to paint doesn’t mean that you must sketch. I am like that and that is me, that’s art to me. I believe no one person or thing can have the collective embodiment of all that inspires me or all that I must abide by. Little bits and pieces of tangible and invisible things leave marks on me. I am impressionable, I am naïve, but I have a mind of my own. All artists have a set of values or combination of principles, because that’s what humans are made of, lots of influences combined, but never all of them. It’s also what makes us individually unique, a mind set of our own, a style of our own, a collection of works we call our own." Luyu, from Brooklyn, age: 17. Hobbies: drawing, reading, writing, sketching, hiking, doing typical zen-like activities, which include sleeping because it’s a very “common” form of meditation. Background: Chinese.

Why do some artists make it big? Why do some not? How do you make it big? Why are some pieces in museums and not others? How do you get your works exhibited in a museum? Why become an artist? What exactly is the future trend for art? How does a museum work? Who is involved? These are the questions that I hope to find out through the Whitney Museum.


I am a 16 year old Latino male and my name is Robert. I was born and raised in Manhattan, but my parents are from Panama. The things that interest me most are ice-skating and art, mostly graffiti. Art means a lot to me and without art I think I would have gone crazy by now. A lot of the times I use art as a way to escape from my current problems. I get most inspired when I see other artists’ styles because it gives me ideas to try new things with my art.


My name is Sergio. I’m 16 years old, and I’m a high school senior at Newcomers High School. I’m from Ecuador, but I’ve been living in New York City since I was 13. Living in this city has taught me many interesting things, and at the same time it opened many doors that were full of opportunities related to art.

In the future I want to be a fashion designer. I hope to show the world my art. So far, my sketches are good inventions that will turn the whole world around. My favorite fashion designer is Donna Karan. Her beautiful dresses got my attention, and made me realize what I wanted to be. Finally, I’m thankful that art led me to my career path.


My name is Shaniece, and I attend Gotham Professional Arts Academy in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. I am originally from Trinidad, but at the age of twelve I moved to the mountainous terrain of San Bernardino with my father, stepmother, and two siblings. Then at the age of fourteen, I moved again to New York to live with my mother in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Moving to New York really changed my life. I had always loved art and music, but when I moved here my passion for these things intensified. Art was no longer just something in a museum that was really intriguing, it became my life equation, which is photography + music + art + writing = life, or my life at the very least. Art plays an immense role in my life and it is one of the main sources of my inspiration along with music, which I believe is a form of art in itself.

In the future, I hope to become more involved in the arts and possibly pursue a career that deals with the arts, whether it be writing about art, teaching art, or even directing programs like the ones they offer at the Whitney. There are a world of possibilities and I intend to explore them.


My name is Suzanne and I am a senior. I have actually attended three different high schools in three separate states. I love to dance and was on the school dance team in my freshman year. I very much enjoy playing tennis, and am known to get a bit rowdy while watching Wimbledon on TV during the summer.

As I am currently at the beginning of my transition from high school to college, on the cusp of graduation, I feel as if I am being thrown into the world, and as I currently soar, I am learning how to eventually be able to fly on my own. ART is now and, again, just the beginning. Today I am exploring and learning; tomorrow I will be explaining and creating.



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

Learn more

Learn more at