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Youth Insights

Fall 2015
With Alan Ruiz

On Wednesdays during the fall semester Youth Insights Artists collaborated with artist Alan Ruiz (ISP) to examine the relationship between architecture and power through the lens of the new Whitney building, Frank Stella, and Ruiz’s own practice. Working in pairs, the teens drew upon the site of the Whitney to create site-specific sculptural and performative interventions throughout the building in spaces such as the stairwell, store, galleries, and even near the restrooms. 

Amanata and Amelia

Amanata is a sixteen year-old junior at The Hewitt School. Her parents are from Guyana. Amanata sees art as freedom of expression and some of her favorite artists include: Jenny Holzer, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock, Barbara Kruger and Bruce Nauman. Amanata is interested in photography and music and usually finds inspiration from Tumblr, her family and friends, art, and the world. In the future she hopes to become a creative director and fine art photographer.

Amelia is a junior at Hunter College High School. She's been creating art since she was a toddler and drew a "scary cat" that earned a place on the wall of her mother's office. Art in all mediums is an important part of her life. During her summers, she goes to Buck's Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp. She spends her time there exploring many types of creative arts, but she focuses on flame working, a form of small-scale glasswork. She also writes in her spare time. Art has played a huge role in balancing out her life and teaching her about everything, from history to politics to aesthetics. 

We created a sculpture in the area outside of the Whitney's seventh floor restrooms.  We chose this space because it was a purely utilitarian area in an aesthetically aimed building.  People were very tentative, careful, and self-conscious in the space. We used these characteristics to inspire our sculpture. We decided to use mirrors to play up the self-conscious nature of the space. We also based our sculpture's structure on that of a screen in order to play up the idea of surveillance in public spaces and the binary sorting inherent in gendered public restrooms.

  • Photo of tall boxes in a gallery.

Shania and Nick

Shania is a student of everything. She is part Chinese, Spanish, but she is mostly Filipino. She wants to learn how to better understand and develop a deeper appreciation for art. This desire is what brought her to Youth Insights. In her definition, art can be in the form of a chair, a shirt, a bag, a painting, a sketch, a poster, a photograph or anything else. She takes interest in anything on the subject of design, art, and photography. Shania is inspired by the people who have revolutionized art. She also wants to revolutionize something that involves the design world and society.

Nick was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Art means education and passion to him. He applied to Youth Insights to discover new forms of art and art critique. Bunny Harvey is rapidly becoming one of his favorite artists. Although he wants a career that is focused on fine arts, much of his inspiration comes from his interest in photography, creative writing, and cross country. 

This project was a result of continuous collaboration and compromise. We were inspired by actions. “To spill" sparked the idea of a cup spilling out water. Since our intervention is in the 7th floor gallery, we had to use alternatives. We chose glass and aluminum foil to represent water. We also wanted to play with scale. The "water" spilling out of the cup is more than what a cup can actually hold.

  • Students working on a bench in a museum gallery.

Luftun and Tyrique

Lutfun is a creative person. She loves making things! Especially designing and making dresses. Lutfun is from Bangladesh and she moved to New York three years ago. She loves making new friends. Lutfun believes that art allows you to express yourself; you can say what you want to say, be who you want to be. She can also learn about important history through art. In the future, Lutfun hopes to pursue higher education. Her dream is to become a fashion designer and make her own fashion line. She also wants to go back to Bangladesh and do something good there.

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.

It is common to see our reflection in a mirror, yet uncommon to present this kind of reflection through artwork in the museum stairwell. We placed two large mirrors in the stairwell, so that people would be able to see others on the stairs ascending and descending in both directions. The place we chose is a very quiet place. We hoped that after visiting the wonderful galleries and growing tired, visitors would stop to rest and enjoy our artwork. 

  • Two mirrors in a stairwell.

    Lutfun and Tyrique placed two large mirrors in the stairwell so that visitors could see other people ascending and descending the stairs in both directions, and take a moment to enjoy their intervention.

Shanice and Nyya

Our piece is a performative intervention about police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. We start by dancing to “I’ll show you” by Justin Bieber. Then we repeat the movements with a narrative made up of phrases pertaining to #BlackLivesMatter and police brutality. We use phrases from victims murdered by police officers in modern society. The victims that are being killed by police officers were black. We target and capture the voice of the unsaid with our movements.  We performed on the floor 8 outdoor gallery with the city as our backdrop.

  • Two teens dance in a performance piece about Black Lives Matter.

    On the eighth floor terrace, Shanice and Nyya performed a piece about police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. They captured the unspoken with their dance movements and used phrases by victims of police violence.

Joyce and Sali

Joyce is a sophomore at St John's Prep in Queens. She is a member of the Science Club, Hellenic Club and Red Storm News. She has been studying classical art and sketching for ten years, so she decided to join Youth Insight Artists to learn about American art at the Whitney Museum. Her interests are drawing, dancing, and reading. Art is an expression of her, and at the same time, it gives her intelligence, peace, and happiness. Her dream is to become an architectural designer. She is very excited for Youth Insights Artists this semester!

Sali is a senior at Bard High School Early College. She's originally from the Bronx and considers herself a pretty optimistic person. She's interested in engaging others in meaningful conversations that can possibly change the way people think. Sali is socially-minded. She's attending Youth Insights to develop a deeper understanding of the visual arts. The visual arts mean a lot to her because of how it helps people express themselves without the need of words. Her favorite artists include Jean-Michel Basquiat and Aboudia Abdoulaye Diarrassouba. Sali has an interest in architecture and contemporary African fashion design. She hopes to start a line in Ivory Coast that can help bring together all aspects of black culture while retaining their individuality. Sali also hopes to pursue an education at The New School.

Light is the natural beauty of art, and is also the inspiration of our intervention. We chose two beautiful columns in the Whitney’s store as our location. The columns reflect natural light on one side and on the other side, decorated light. We wrapped the pillars and adorned them with 10 irregularly shaped small mirrors painted with watercolors. People can look at themselves in the mirrors through a variety of colors, at the same time, enjoy the shadows created by the reflections of the mirrors on the floor.

Evan and Ivan

Evan is a senior at Harvest Collegiate High School. He was born and raised in Yorkville on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His grandparents came to New York City from Puerto Rico. Evan considers himself a creative person who enjoys learning and discovering how things work. Participating in Youth Insights will continue his journey of preparation and readiness for college and the art career he is pursuing. Evan does not have one favorite artist, he likes all forms of art—especially modern art. He also likes to sketch items that can be used for gaming and to play the piano. Evan’s future goals include earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Art and Game Design. He wants to eventually create his own company where he can give young creative people the same opportunity he had to share their talents.

Ivan is from Manhattan. His parents are from Mexico. Ivan loves everything about art. He loves talking about art with his friends and peers. He thinks that art connects millions of people. Ivan also loves soccer and listening to hip-hop. One of his favorite rappers is Kendrick Lamar. His inspiration comes from people who are confident in themselves. Ivan wants to learn everything he can about art. He also hopes to graduate from college. In the future, he wants to become a father and have a lovely wife. 

Our intervention used two mirrors to intervene in the museum’s stairwell. The first was on a lower staircase angled so that when one looks down, they see upwards. The second mirror was placed on the upper staircase to give the opposite effect. The aim was to push people do a double take and question what they are seeing.

  • A mirror installed in the stairwell.

    Evan and Ivan angled two mirrors in the Whitney’s stairwell so that when visitors looked down, they saw upwards, and vice versa. The aim was to have visitors do a double take, and question what they saw.

Mario and Gianah

The purpose of our intervention is to inspire people to look from many different angles and to experience it fully. We chose the location near the restrooms on floor three because it was empty. We wanted to spice it up.

  • Artwork in the gallery with arrows on it.



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

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