May 17, 2019 | By Anupreet Bhui
Founded in 2011 by high school senior Audrey Banks, Teen Art Gallery is a New York based collective of teenage curators who organise art shows. An artist herself, Audrey was inspired by the idea that people produce their best art at a young age, and also that a gallery run for teens, by teens, was the most authentic way to get teen art out into the world. Now in its 7th year, T.A.G creates opportunities for teens and helps high school aged artists reach wider audiences. This past March, the collective hosted its latest exhibition titled “Do You Mind?” in Soho, New York City. We recently sat down with co-curator Amelia Connelly to pick her brain about the exhibit, as well as the teen mindset in a time of much political upheaval.
What was theme of the exhibition? What inspired the concept of this show?
Titled “Do You Mind?” the show explored the teenage mind, and how it grapples with the current political climate. Popular culture paints today’s teens as the self-absorbed generation to date. The show highlighted what this mislabeling misses and how teenagers engage with the world around them. Furthermore, what does mental health actually mean to “kids today”, and how our innermost identities are being shaped by the world around us. We also felt that the theme gave our friends or family members that may not understand how to walk through a gallery, or interpret art, a lens to view the work through. Making for a more accessible experience.
Where did the artists come from and what kind of work was on display?
In the show, we had paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, poetry, and film. Most of the work came from the tri-state area, many of the artists were from New York City. Some pieces came from Maryland, Rhode island, Illinois, and California. We wanted to gather a group that did not exclusively come from the artist elite, and rather from diverse places across race, gender identity and sexuality. We also had one piece from Pakistan exploring the caste system.
Did anything surprise you about the work you received? Were there any common threads?
I think the first shock was the depth of talent among our submissions, and as a result how difficult it was to narrow them down. Many pieces addressed the artist’s social or political identity. I also feel that as much as each piece centered around the artist as an individual, most of them were largely about community. For me, this speaks to how much creating art is about the people surrounding you. In part, T.A.G. tries to act as this community. We want teenagers, particularly those without access to “the art world,” to feel comfortable and welcome.
How did you hope the exhibit would be received?
For high schoolers, I hope they found the show empowering. That they not only enjoyed seeing work from other young people, but that they understand the power of their own creativity. Although very cliche, there is often so much squandered power in young people. Similarly, for adults, I hope that they found the art engaging and realize how many voices so often go unnoticed. Particularly, the voices of young people that fall outside the range of the traditionally artistic, often white male artists.
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