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Youth Insights

Fall 2019
With Ilana Harris-Babou

Whitney Biennial 2019 artist Ilana Harris-Babou's work is interdisciplinary; spanning sculpture and installation, and grounded in video. She speaks the aspirational language of consumer culture, using humor as a means to digest painful realities. Her work confronts the contradictions of the American Dream: the ever unreliable notion that hard work will lead to upward mobility and economic freedom. YI Artists worked with Harris-Babou and discussed ways artists bring videos in their practice. The students then created satirical "how-to" videos where they build sets and created their own props. 


Alexandra was born in the Ivory Coast, and raised in different places but mainly in Nigeria and Dubai. She recently moved to Manhattan, and loves the opportunity to participate in the New York art scene. Art to Alexandra is a necessity. She believes it is a part of human nature, and ultimately a part of the world. She also believes that art is in everything humans do and is a language free of barriers and surpasses every limitation, art is what makes people human. In the future, Alexandra hopes to continue to grow as an artist and a person. She hopes to create art that will have a positive impact on others.


Sofia is from Mexico, Panama and Germany. She has lived in Panama City, Geneva, Boston and New York City. To Sofia, art is another form of storytelling. She believes that art humanizes people and brings them closer, often bridging gaps created by misunderstanding and prejudice. She also believes that when art is shared, an avenue can be created for people to walk on together, this avenue can foster an exchange of ideas among passionate thinkers and creators of change. In the future, Sofia hopes to create the best restaurant in the United States, and win three Michelin stars. She wants her restaurant to be a place of gathering, bringing together the diversity of American culture through food. She wishes to bring to life the narratives of Americans by using the colors, textures and shapes that make up the present-day American identity, in creating cuisines. This innovation in representing American folklore will help to further understand the puzzle that is the United States.


Isabel is from the West Village in Manhattan. She is a sophomore at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College. To Isabel, art is a powerful tool of expression, art is a way of exploring the world. Art has such an impact that it can change minds. Her favorite artists have even changed her perspective and opened her mind to new ideas. She hopes one day; her art can do the same. In the future, Isabel wants to stand up for what she believes in. To her, even small actions have unprecedented reverberations. Isabel wants to do everything she can, even on the smallest level, to improve the world. She says it is easy to feel helpless about an issue or isolated from it, but there are unlimited ways to make a difference. The most powerful advice she has been given is “Be the change you want to see, in your life.” She says she will try her best to be that change.


Toby was born and raised in Greenwich Village. He says growing up right next to Washington Square Park and being constantly surrounded by all art forms has had a giant influence on his life. To Toby, Art has always been a way he has expressed himself when words could not. He says art helps to convey complicated emotions in an interesting way. Art is also fun for him, and he hopes to continue to follow his passion for art in the years to come. Toby does not know what the future holds for him. What he does know, is that he wants to be content with his life, and work for the greater good of society.  


Chudon was born in New York City, but his family is from Tibet To Chudon, art means expressing how one feels by showing not telling. In the future, Chudon hopes to learn more about himself and find interests that he can connect with.


Alex is from the Bronx. He originally lived in Washington heights with his mother, father, sister and grandparents. For Alex, art is an escape from the real world. Art clears his head and makes him forget about the other things going on in his life. In the future, Alex hopes to be a full-time photographer. He wants to attend Pratt Institute, as photography is something he enjoys and is passionate about.


Shayne is from New York and both of his parents are Guyanese. Art is a very important factor of Shayne’s life. It is a way for Shayne to visually express himself. In the future, he wants to create a life for himself and his family that is sustainable. Shayne wants to enroll in a creative career such as designing.


Daishauna is from Brooklyn. She has always lived in Brooklyn, surrounded by close family. To Daishauna, art is a stress free activity. Art allows her to work effortlessly and gives her a chance to let her imagination run free as well as show off her varying personality. Daishauna has no current expectations for the future. She does however, wish to graduate from college.


Clarice grew up in Miami and moved to New York for high school. To Clarice, art is the foundation of everything she does. Art molded her into the person she is today. Art also helped her to use her creativity and imagination in a way she would not have otherwise. It has also helped her along the way emotionally and mentally. She is forever grateful. In the future, Clarice would like to travel the world and live in Japan. She hopes to one day start her own animation company and publish her comics, books, and plays. She would also enjoy producing musicals. Clarice wants to create a space that will allow all people to learn about art in hopes that it will help them in the way it helped her.


Makeda was born in Guyana and resides in NYC. For Makeda, art is a passionate thing. It makes her excited at her highest and lowest points. It is a release. In the future, Makeda hopes to become a multimedia artist, mainly in the video game and animation field.


Shabnab is from NYC and resides in Queens, NY. Her parents are from Afghanistan and she is Afghan-American. For Shabnab, art is an expressive form of thoughts that can be expressed in many ways. Art is a way to express thoughts in a way that is always right. To Shabnab, art is a way of communication without spoken language. Art is a way to bring people together. In the future, Shabnab hopes to make a positive change in the world. 


Rhiannon is from NYC. For Rhiannon, art is very important, and helps her take her mind off of anything stressful in life. In the future, Rhiannon hopes to travel and do something substation in photography, film and fashion. 


Mina is from Manhattan. To Mina, art is something that is undefined. It is some type of piece such as a painting, graffiti, sculpture or every day objects, that can be interpreted in many different ways. In the future, Mina wants to have a clothing line that can speak to the entire world. 


Michelle is from the Bronx. For Michelle, art is the most important form of expression. It has a broad meaning that it almost qualifies everyone as an artist. In the future, Michelle hopes to become a successful artist and have her work understood by everyone, but have a deep meaning at the same time.


Maham is from Pakistan and currently lives in NYC. For Maham, art is her passion. She has been drawing her entire life, and it is a way for her to relieve her emotions. For Maham, art lets her forget about the negativity in the world. In the future, Maham hopes to become a person of influence, help eradicate world poverty, and bring about gender equality. 


Hannah is from NYC. For Hannah, art expresses who she is. Drawing helps Hannah remain calm and gives her something to be proud of. In the future, Hannah hopes to finish college, and start a career where she can draw and be challenged creatively.   


Aislinn is from Jackson, Mississippi, and NYC is her favorite place, where she currently resides. For Aislinn, art gives her the ability to express herself and the way she feels. In the future, Aislinn hopes to attend college, and enjoy her career in the art world. 


Vic is from Brooklyn, and her family is primarily from Guyana.  For Vic, art makes up her life.  It is her escape from reality and her draw back to reality.  It is freedom.  In the future, Vic wants to deepen her knowledge and experiment with new ideas. 



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

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