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Youth Insights

Spring 2021
With American Artist

These YI Artists worked with artist American Artist to learn about digital art and new media. Students learned how to code from the artist using an accessible software. They then used these skills to create their own original websites. They also explored artists in the Whitney's collection who consider themes of Black experiences, anti-Black racism, social justice, and culture. 


I have always had the ability to vividly picture things in my mind, which is why I’ve always thought of myself as the creative, right-brained human being I am. My mom said this could lead to anxiety, and other family members agreed and said I took after my aunt, the original artist of the family. Initially I saw my sprawling imagination as a bad thing: I was scared of going to my basement, using public restrooms, leaving my parents when it was time for elementary school, among many other hindrances. Now, throughout my adolescence I’ve started to realize that I’d like to use my imagination towards my best interests instead of letting it get in the way of everyday endeavors. 

When I create art I’m drawn towards recreating childhood fantasies, and commemorating fairy-tales and absurdities because they will never exist in real life. I grew up admiring Dr. Seuss illustrations, Alice in Wonderland, and Harry Potter because each immersed me into that same world of play and fun. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but all these fantastical stories made me feel pure joy when I was younger, and I’d like to recreate those feelings for people viewing my work. I use knitwear in order to reflect the inner workings of my mind, while being vibrant, bright, and playful. 

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I am a black teen, I am also a person living in a torn world. This in many ways makes me and others torn. Being torn to me is being uncertain. Being uncertain means lack of truth. With fantasy there is no truth. The only difference is that most of the time we deliberately hide from the truth and feed into false truths. Maybe we voluntarily chose to be torn and uncertain. I am exploring the heavy role of being ''The Fantasy'' and how it is important in society to be an activist and a black mother. Often, Black women feel the need to be the "backbone" or ''tough'' in the community.  Through the struggle, we have to be the "troopers" and even the Instagram girls and the female rappers feel this heavy load even if they made a positive or negative impact.  I think we feel as though it is the only role we have to survive and have access to. I see this happening too often growing up, these women over time get out of touch with themselves and those around them. They become emotionally declined, immoral, and unaware. Unable to love their children and family. They start picking up the wrong lover or friends. And as soon as you know it, their legacy is tainted, a generational curse is at hand, and they don't even know it. I've seen the most gorgeous and talented women being torn down. Women who I love very much, who my heart goes out to every day. The fantasy woman. The single black mother who can't make ends meet. The activist (who is unaware of herself and her true needs), and all the women who are in between, that just aren't aware of themselves. THEY inspire me. 

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My intention with this website was to make something that feels organic but is still very digital.  What I'm trying to make happen through code is allow you to click on the "leaves" of the plants to make it grow.  The reason for using text instead of images of plants is that I want the plant to be an imitation of a real plant, but more like the text of the code is growing as a plant.  The main challenge I've been having with the medium of html code is the complexity of code and the unforgiving way that it works because I'm limited by the methods of adding text to a website that I've been able to work so far. However, it's an experiment and I think the idea of using the resources to make something more complex is similar to how plants grow.

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My piece takes the usage of poetry and images in a form of a website to express intrusive thoughts. Especially during the time of the pandemic, the majority of people’s mental health has sunken, yet not many people are talking about it. I thought it would be a good chance to use this opportunity to create a website that puts into perspective my own interpretation of how these thoughts can make a person feel and appear. Being unfamiliar with building a website and coding in general, it was hard to place images where I originally wanted them to be, but working around it, I was actually able to utilize it to express how uncomfortable, unwanted, and sporadic these thoughts can be. This project was initially launched in May when it was mental health awareness month, and although many of you will be viewing this in June, it is still a very important topic that I think should be discussed more all year round and to digress from stigma that still remains on the topic till this day.

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I find that most of the people around me are overwhelmed with life. I am too! Planning my future, dealing with homework and school, and seeing violence on the news towards people who look like my family and friends can really crush my spirit. Although thinking about these things are important, I don't want to have to always think about these stressful and serious topics, sometimes I want to enjoy the lighthearted and sweet moments in life. Desserts are my sweet escape from my stressors, and I wanted to share that with everyone else.  My website is about showing the beauty of sweet desserts and their history. I was inspired to make this when learning about Rococo art in school, as I instantly fell in love with the playful, romantic, and extravagant themes. Seeing a beautiful pastry can instantly uplift my mood, and I hope that these extravagant sweets can provide some short term relief to everyone else.

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This art piece is a collection of my anger, worry and hope about the climate crisis. I decided to use Greta Thunberg's famous phrase  "How Dare You," as the main focus. Her activism is so inspiring to me, and I wanted to emulate her impact on the world through my art.  Inside of this, I chose to add gifs of "Wall-E" as well as a garbage truck unloading at a landfill. Using these two animations, I created the HOW. In its self, I answer the how: because of all the waste and mistreatment of the planet and our resources. Through the use of Wall-E in my art and in the title, I wanted to allude back to the ideas that the movie "Wall-E" emphasizes. That we need to take better care of our world, or else it will no longer be there for us. For the DARE, I decided to include the acronym for a renewable energy association to show some of the hope that I have for the future. Lastly, I wanted to turn the word YOU into an interactive aspect. By having a hand pointing to the viewers, it gives the responsibility of being more environmental cautious. This artwork is confusing and busy, but that's the way that I think about this problem, something messy that we need to untangle.

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This work is a website compiling a series of poems I wrote throughout the past year. I knew that I wanted to include my poetry or writing generally into my website, but I let the trends I saw in my work essentially dictate my theme. The two major continuities I saw were my reliance on art and my struggle with mental health during the pandemic. I also happened to have a spontaneous resurgence of affection for the impressionist movement during this time, especially Vincent Van Gogh and his japonisme work. I love how the very movement of the brush in his paintings depicts the emotion he is trying to convey. His story was also very striking to me, as his struggle with mental illness is partially what fueled him to continue making art. His reflections about a never ending sadness haunting him struck a chord with me. Mental health advocacy and education is a major passion of mine generally, but in this piece I think I just wanted to express my own experience. I wanted to interweave art I love with the airing of my own frustrations and experiences which have been swept aside and misunderstood in the past. 

I am a complete coding novice, so I experienced some initial difficulties building my website as well as several total reworkings of my idea for the site. I actually thought of using Van Gogh’s work because of a random painting of his I found in my files while searching for a background image to test out in the code. However, after finally succeeding to upload that image after many other attempts, I stuck with it. 

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The website that I created had little meaning to me when I started making it at first, but once I started adding more, I thought of it as a way to describe the internet and how people react to it. I used a well known gif called nyan cat as a background, but also added people staring at screens in order to show that people would watch almost anything on the web, no matter how strange it is. Also I added a gif of a woman banging on the screen, to show that people usually watch what they find as sweet, but ignore anything that doesn't appeal to them, which isn't a bad thing, it is just typical nature.

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My art has always been inspired by and reflective of other people’s stories. This time, however, my art reflects my own story. In making this portfolio site of sorts, I wanted to tell the story of my own artistic development and my art-making process. It is especially the latter that was important to me, as I think emphasis is too often placed on the finished piece rather than the process. In including sketches in addition to finished works, I wanted to illuminate a step of my art-making process and remind people of the beauty of sketches. I also wanted the website to be wholly my own; instead of using an image taken by another person for my background, I used a photo I took of a sunset over the city, a reminder of my home. I want people to take away from my webpage a better sense of me as an artist and be inspired to gain a better sense of themselves as artists too.

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I want my website to provide viewers insight into who I am as an individual. The included images, colors, and links all have a personal connection to me, and my website acts as an outlet for others to get to know me. Initially, I struggled a lot with being able to make the photos you see appear at all, the site generally ending up completely blank when I would try to test it. Once I figured out how to make them appear, I went through a long process of trying to find ones that I liked, which is when I settled on finding elements of things online that have some connection to my life. When I make physical art, I tend to take inspiration from nature or the work of other artists. For this, I did struggle with finding inspiration, and ultimately settled on pure experimentation, which actually worked really well for me. Overall, I really enjoyed completing this project, and look forward to developing both my creative and coding skills in the future.

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I wanted to create an art piece that captures the chaos of the last year and half. I felt the best way to convey it was that it is a thunderstorm. As I was working on this piece, I was reflecting on all that had happened this past year and a half. I wanted the thunder clouds and lightning strikes to represent the sad and challenging things people had dealt with in the past year. Along with rainbows to represent the good and inspiring things that happened during the pandemic. When creating this piece I was also learning how to use a new medium - coding. It was a complex and exciting challenge which taught me a lot.

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I have never worked on a cool project and that is by creating a website. It is my first-time coding, and it was really challenging and awesome at the same time. But the main purpose of creating this amazing website is to inspire people to see the beauty of art. I want to show people that art is something that anyone can do and is a place where you can express yourself. By showing some of my artwork, it would motivate me to do more, so that one day, my art would be appreciated by the people that want to know about my art.

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The process for making this art piece was definitely challenging for me. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do I had these high hopes for myself that I could make something complex and intricate. However, I am not a very tech-savvy person, and that really changed my vision of what the piece would be and how I would make it. When learning the different codes I would struggle to keep up with the pace and to get them to work in the program. With my unfortunate inability to code, I knew that I had to readjust my process to make sure I was keeping up with what we were learning while programming as best I could. I decided instead of making something elaborate, I could instead create something that would be more simplistic but would also communicate who I am and what I like through it.

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My work relies on my encounters with the world, but more so, it relies on my thoughts, and how I perceive the world. Art making, in essence, is the process of struggling to eventually reach a moment of epiphany. 

Painting with gouache and watercolor allows me to abstract reality into something more surreal through color and technique. The process of design is also crucial in my work. Understanding the mechanics and inner workings of how an object is designed enables the artist to abstract and play with its functionality. 

The "world" I have created through my art is a recollection of the entropy of "things" that exist in my mind and among my experiences. Themes that appear in my work include people in my life, childhood, magical realism, anxiety, and observation, amongst others.


Some of my initial thoughts were to write about me and install pictures of myself and the activities I’ve done. However, the difficulty was that I wasn’t able to upload my images and I didn’t have some pictures specifically for each activity. Instead I redirected my focus onto Nature. I wanted to talk about some activities that I love to do. I wanted to show the beauty of nature in the many activities I’ve done and show others of the many activities that are available to us. I wanted to show that they can involve you either being alone or being with others. I wanted to use this project as an opportunity to introduce myself to others while keeping my focus on something that I love. This process has shown me that I can work on improving my skills in coding but conveys my emotions on each topic.

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Adele is a teen artist from Brooklyn, New York. She enjoys experimenting with different mediums to create art that makes viewers curious. She finds her inspiration through day-to-day experiences and through the vibrant city she lives in.

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Through my website I wanted to show you who I am. I am an animal lover, poetry, music loving girl. I’ve had a couple of years experience working with this medium. My teacher has been such an inspiration to my art making. I was able to connect back to my inner artist through her class of digital and visual art  and this internship. The main idea is for anyone who looks at my website to see I’m very creative and I love different vibrant colors. I’m inspired by friends, my art teacher, my aunt, and last but not least myself. My initial thoughts were I had a complete blank canvas and I had to tell my story to the world. The materials I used was a computer, glitch (where I coded), and paper to plan.

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For this piece, I present who I am through the work I have made this year and reveal the things that interest me. This piece is supposed to reflect social media and the way we present ourselves to the internet. Most often we hide or change our identity, however, this piece is meant to publicize my identity. I approached this piece with links and visuals to provide entertainment for the viewer and keep them engaged with my website. I chose to have multiple mediums because I believe that my life can be art rather than just the work that I make.

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Through my website, I wanted to display how I've achieved my dreams throughout my life. These dreams mainly revolve around making art, like comics and digital art. I want to tell the story of my own struggle with art, and this struggle keeps me motivated. I want to improved, to make myself known to others, and create something beautiful—I wanted to show how I've bloomed into a better artist than I once was. I've always been very hard on myself, so I wanted to show how my own self-confidence has bloomed and grown. My art has changed a lot, whether it be badly or it changed for the better, but progress is progress, so that's what I'd like to display. The art displayed is throughout the years, so it's showing my own progress, and it also follows my progress as a person. This is what "Blooming Dreams" means.


The intent of my art is to bring a sense of natural space into a web browser. Using a forest, specifically this image of a forest, for my virtual art gives me the ability to make a website seem like somewhat of a virtual reality portal into this eerie forest. I can create a sense of immersion due to the viewer being able to pan back and forth, up and down, as if looking around. Websites are typically based on the same templates and layouts, digital fonts etc. and I felt I wanted to bring the stillness and depth of an environment such as a forest into a website while maintaining the fact that it is a website because I have personally never seen this done before without it being layered over with other images, text, links, etc. I am motivated to make art by a constant want to create due to the influx of ideas and inspirations that I take in from everyday life. I made many changes to the photo I was using but I finally chose this one because I felt it conveyed a clear mood to the viewer.  

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While I was working on my website, I thought a lot about negative and positive space. I found it really interesting that for an area to be empty on my website I would have to code that empty space in. Whereas in other drawing materials, you take away to make empty space, in coding, you have to add to make empty space. In my website I used simple shapes to show negative space and patterns. I’ve tried coding a couple times in the past and could never really get the hang of it. It was hard for me to grasp that I would have to actively learn how to use and understand code before I could use it as an effective art material. Continuing to work on this project is a good way to improve my skills and make coding more natural for me.

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During a time when so much of our lives has become virtual, through my art, I aimed to explore how far the boundary between virtual and real can be pushed. I used my website to create a “virtual garden” in which a viewer can scroll through various plants and click to explore their origins. By compressing a form of life such that it can be viewed on a screen, I hope to spark questions concerning the other forms of life that are being limited by their virtual counterparts. Additionally, I linked each plant to a webpage that gives information about the place of origin of that plant. This shows that although the internet and virtual life can be limiting, it also offers a unique opportunity for connection that spans across the entire globe.

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My artwork is supposed to represent an Earth in which humanity causes irreversible destruction to its own planet. You can move forward through the stages, but there is no way of moving backwards. You can only go back to the start once you have reached the end to watch it all play out again. I used several archived GIFs from the internet to represent the different stages of Earth, from a spinning globe, to an exploding bomb, to a rotating skull. Of course this is real life and not a website, and there are certainly ways you can prevent your Earth from transforming into a rotating skull like this one does. This is merely a representation of a world in which so much destruction has been caused, and so little has been done to stop it, that it has been pushed beyond the point of no return, where there is no going back.

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This piece is a collaboration of many different sketches of women including myself that I've created within the last two months. This piece shows a variety of insecurities women and girls tend to have, because of the impossible beauty standard on social media. Some of the insecurities I have portrayed in my work, are lips, hair, acne, and other physical insecurities. I want to show other woman and girls my age that they are not alone in critiquing everything about themselves. Its society that is not beautiful, not you.


My piece is a compilation of compressed images of places all over the world and animated patterns/characters. I have beautiful sunsets, oceans, rainforests, trees, and animals but I also have fun patterns and characters from tv shows like the Flintstones and Scooby. 

My piece focuses on appreciating the beauty of the world by simplifying the world around us and reducing the pictures from tangible objects to just lines and colors. Within my project there are seven different websites you can get to by clicking anywhere on the page. These websites vary, but many include looking at the world in different ways. This project was particularly hard for me to get started on because I’d never coded before and I couldn’t figure out how I would make art using this form. After I thought of distorting images the rest of the project just flowed out each week. 

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What's the intent of my art? The art I made is quite simple. They're a bunch of pictures that express so much when you look at them, which is why I let them do all the talking. Through my art, I tried to express the inner thoughts that I have in my day to day life. They're all over the place because sometimes it's hard for me to organize what's going on in my head. Sometimes, I have literally nothing on my mind and sometimes my mind won't stop thinking. At times, they're positive. However, sometimes they aren't, such as those thoughts of anxiety and stress. It's a little strange. But it's how my mind tends to work. The question "How does your work?" was put there because I know everyone has different thinking processes and feel different things. I'm just trying to show my process.

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The COVID pandemic has forced many into their homes, and for many also acted as a time of self-reflection. Since the pandemic, I’ve realized how fast-paced my life once was and how I got so caught up in it. As a result, I recognized that I forgot about some important things in my life, my relationships and myself. I realized how important it is to occasionally break away from our lives, in order to not lose ourselves in them. 

But, in the newer generation, many are more critical of themselves and it’s a lot harder to take important breaks of reflection. This results from the combination of the internet and rising expectations. In all this mess it’s hard to find oneself, and it’s even harder to always love the person we are. I wanted to make a statement towards this plaguing issue by basing my website on it. With my website I hope viewers will take a moment to breathe and appreciate themselves in our chaotic, busy world. 

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

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