With LaToya Ruby Frazier
LaToya Ruby Frazier’s photographs revolve around her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The Notion of Family, (2002–) is an ongoing series of black-and-white photographs documenting the artist’s family, one of the many families that have borne the brunt of the town’s social, economic, and environmental decline. YI Artists worked with Frazier to create photographs that documented their changing neighborhoods, selves, and a variety of public spaces in New York City. They examined the effects of advertising on society and the ways that individuals make every day choices. Teens also watched and discussed excerpts from the documentaries Century of the Self and the British series 7 UP to further understand the links between propaganda, advertising, and the ways in which social class affect an individual’s future.
In a way, the media has shaped my perceptions a lot. For example, my anti-racism exists only because of the racism I saw in movies and commercials. Class had never really been something I distinguished people by. I always saw it as none of my business, so I never asked nor judged anyone by their social class or background. Gender roles, I believe, have influenced me the most. I usually give girls labels like “frail” and “soft” while men are “bold” and “strong.” In reality, there are plenty of people who break those stereotypes.
My self-portrait. I tried to transmit the message of who I was without displaying any of the features that define my face. We always think about appearance first when we meet someone. We judge. We create a second skin which envelops the person in a cocoon. Only when we’ve been proven wrong does the skin diligently peel off to reveal the truth. I never cease to wonder—what if all we saw was a shadow? A shadow which spoke, walked, and talked. But you can’t make assumptions based on the exterior appearance of a shadow, and so racism, low self-esteem, and fear of being judged would draw to an end. The next time you meet someone, let the shadow consume you before the face.
My name is Christine. I'm sixteen and I am Puerto Rican and Italian. Throughout my life I have found a love for all different types of art. Art, to me, means the creation of beautiful and meaningful images, paintings, sculpture, and more. But these types of art weren't the only ones to catch my interest and passion. A person’s freedom to express themselves without boundaries is the idea I have grown to believe in, especially when it comes to art. There are many things that inspire me, but I am mainly inspired by the way I feel and the way I think when creating art or achieving goals.
I love to draw; I breathe, eat and sleep graffiti, paintings and other forms of art. When I was eight, I made a papier-mâché mixture out of baby powder and warm water. I didn’t know what I was doing, but the stuff actually worked. I draw all kinds of things that enter my mind and I love the fact that only I can define those things. I love working with my hands and helped my mother do projects when she had her own construction company. I said “I think I want to be an engineer.” I still do, but I encountered architecture, so I’m going to incorporate that into my life as well. I realize that I want to expand my mind to other forms of art. I find it pretty cool that I don’t yet understand everything I see. But with more analyzing and talking to artists, I can get the full picture and succeed. I’m very open-minded. I can be crass and loving about my work as well as others’. I only do so because I love art a lot and I don’t mean to be overly critical.
My name is Elizabeth. I’m from Manhattan and I go to the Brearley School. I’m not sure I can fully write who I am yet or what my hopes and dreams are, as I don’t think I’ve thought about those questions thoroughly enough to provide a definite answer. I have become increasingly interested in art since I was a toddler looking at the floor of the Metropolitan, and I have since completed a few of my own paintings. I’d love to experience working beyond painting and drawing, maybe into the third dimension. I really love reading about artists and art movements throughout time and coming to my own conclusions about the inner workings of a piece of art.
My name is Emiliano. I am sixteen years old and attend the Bronx High School of Science. I have lived in New York City my entire life. I am Chilean and Italian, as well as Hungarian. My interests include cooking, dancing, reading, writing, and making artwork. For me, my artwork is my way to express my emotions and experiences so that I can understand them. The most important things that inspire me are the city I live in, my parents, my two brothers, and my friends. The fact that I grew up in New York City and have walked these streets up and down has made me strong, courageous, and ambitious, but it has also given me the opportunities that show me I can be whoever I want to be. There are one million and one things I would love to learn and do, from being a clockmaker, a director, or maybe a zookeeper. What I do know is that I will end up loving whatever I do.
My name is George. I am originally from Russia but I live in Manhattan. I like to draw and make free standing sculptures as well as skateboard in my free time. I grew up in a home where failure was not an option and my parents always made me try my best. In the future I have a dream of going to Cooper Union and studying art.
Hey there! My name is Lily, I’m sixteen years old, and I’m a junior in high school. My love of creating and studying art is what brought me to Youth Insights, where I have the opportunity to work closely with contemporary artists, create expressive artwork, expand my current knowledge and confidence about art, and be engaged with students my age who have similar passions.
I have endless interests and constantly growing likes and curiosities! I enjoy theology, philosophy, literature, history (especially the study of ancient civilizations), astrology, antiquing, traveling, adventure, music, comedy, and art of any and every sort. I am a naturally curious person, so I’m always finding hobbies or things to do to occupy my time. Art is particularly significant to my life. It’s important not only because it is a useful means of expression, but it can also be personal and universal. It has the power to influence, create political and social movements, and spark unexpected emotion. Art brings people together, and this has proved true for thousands of years.
My name is Miao and I am Chinese American. I currently attend School of the Future High School. I am from New York City and China. I was born in Manhattan but China is where I took my first step, said my first word, and went to school for the first time. Because of that China has a special place in my heart. I have a broad range of interests because I love learning and trying new things. Academically, I like science (mostly chemistry) and biology, math, history (global and American), and reading. Volleyball is the first sport I’ve ever played and I fell instantly in love with it. I also love fashion, experimenting with makeup, and drawing. Art is a way I can express myself since I am shy. I love that there are no set rules about what art is. Anything can be art. In the future I hope to become a fashion designer and go to art school.
My name is Ramsey. I was born in the Bronx, but my parents are from the Dominican Republic. My interests are art, education, and travel. The way I see art is that it is set up by emotions. I get my inspiration from my mom and my grandfather because on any family occasion, they are the first people to pull out their cameras. Hopefully in the future I can become a freelance photographer.
My name is Raymond. I’m talented and don’t like to be labeled. I am my own person and just like to enjoy life to the fullest. I live in Brooklyn but I am originally from Guyana. I was born and raised there, and moved here in 2005. I am a mix of Indian, Native American, Chinese, and Black. My interests are photography, baking, traveling, writing, and being creative. To me, art is a way for me to escape from the world and issues. It is also my addiction, something that is in my blood 24/7. And it is what makes me happy and defines me as a person. The thing that inspires me is creativity. In the future I hope to achieve a lot, such as becoming a fashion photographer, a pastry chef, a critic, and maybe a world traveler.
My name is Robert. I have lived in New York nearly all my life, and I have a profound interest in human expression. It fascinates me how we use our senses to interpret and express the world that we occupy. A great inspiration for me is modern science as well as fascinating forms of pseudo-sciences, esoteric wisdom, and what we think we know about our universe. I would be content with having art be a large part of my life. I do wish to contribute to mankind in some form, however. I would be happy if I got people to open up to new ideas through my art. It would even be fun and fulfilling to explore strange themes and concepts and share them with people.
My name is Timothy. I was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn and I grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn with my two brothers, mother, and father. My grandparents lived upstairs from me. The first few years were pretty cool because I played up and down mostly. By the time I was four, I began pre-kindergarten at the Annex a few blocks away from where I lived. There I met some more friends and my two teachers Ms. Mosses and Mrs. Vegas. They were cool teachers because we did fun activities such as arts and crafts. After pre-k I started kindergarten and that was a big step for me. There I met my kindergarten teacher Ms. Springer. Kindergarten was pretty cool too. The rest of the years in elementary were alright but the year that I liked the most was the fifth grade. I started the sixth grade at IS 211. Since then, I have been going to my current school, which is the Legacy School for Integrated Studies.