Brittany Natale, an NYC based curator, is giving teen girls a chance to share their artwork through a new pop-up exhibit, Teen Dream.
The young art scene is growing up as teen artists are finding inventive ways to show their work offline through zines, pop-up exhibits and art collectives. But what is the young female art experience? Brittany Natale, a New York based curator, is answering this question with a weekend long pop-up exhibit entitled Teen Dream. We chatted with Brittany about the story behind Teen Dream, her process for curating the pop-up, and what she hopes people will take away from the female focused exhibit. If you’re craving an in-person art experience this weekend stop by the Teen Dream exhibit at Wayfarers Brooklyn.
Tell us more about Teen Dream. What’s the concept behind the exhibit?
I’ve described Teen Dream previously as an onion – with so many layers, and back stories and experiences that have become a part of the catalyst for it. The idea for the actual show came about a couple of years ago after I found a newspaper clipping of my mother at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in front of her artwork. Turns out the Met held an outdoor Spring exhibition for young teens to have their work shown, and my mother was chosen to exhibit. I remember thinking how admirable it was that the Met gave this opportunity to young artists.
My mother, a 1987 Parsons Illustration graduate, faced so much adversity in the male-dominated art world and could never pursue art full-time to make a living because of this. I remember sitting on the kitchen table of our Queens apartment watching her watercolor or wood-burn after she got home from work or on the weekends – still trying to keep this passion that had been such a big part of her life alive. Even after my father left when I was 13 and my mom was raising 4 kids as a single mother, my mother, grandmother (who was also an artist who could never pursue art full-time because of societal pressures) and great-aunt always made sure to integrate art into my and my siblings’ everyday lives.
Through the years I have experienced myself and have also witnessed so many strong, talented females in my life be mistreated by society, men and more, and this always has had such a profound impact on me. I knew from a young age I wanted to do something that contributed to the support of women, especially those using art as a platform to make a difference – this show is a culmination of all of this.
How did this exhibit come about?
Last fall, I began a curatorial residency at Wayfarers in Brooklyn, a really wonderful gallery space and studio program that I had been a fan of for a long time. Wayfarers is directed by an amazing female artist, George Ferrandi, who opened up the gallery calendar to members so that we could hold pop-up shows, screenings, etc. I had been holding onto the idea for Teen Dream for a long time, but could never find the “right” space to have it. I knew that when the gallery availability opened up that it was time.
Who are the artists showing work in Teen Dream?
The artists showing in Teen Dream are incredibly talented, young female artists ranging from their teens to age 21. The artists include: Remi Riordan, Sage Adams,
Leemer Morse, Lee Phillips, Genevieve Nollinger, Savana Ogburn, Amira Rosenbush, Abbey Gilbert, Alyson Z. Williams, Lula Hyers, Fabiola Ching, Tyra Mitchell, Lydia Claire, Emily Wood, Megan Schaller, and Alice C. Liu. Many of them are involved in publications and collectives such as Rookie Mag, Crybaby Zine, Arthoe Collective, Coalition Zine, Girl Power Meetups, Zine Club Mag and more.
What was the process for selecting the artists and artworks in this show?
The process for selecting artists and artworks in the show happened pretty organically. Through contributing to zines such as Zine Club Mag and Crybaby Zine I was able to connect with so many amazing young artists, whose work really affected me because of its honesty and truth. I have also been a reader of Rookie for a while now, and would always make mental notes of certain contributors’ art that I especially connected with. Social media also played a role in exposing me to so many young artists who I ultimately asked to participate in the show too. As for the work, I wanted to be sure to include a wide range of aspects and voices as I think it is important to know that not every girl’s struggles are the same, that every female has a unique story but that when one of us is affected it still impacts us all.
You’ve brought together a strong group of young female voices. Have you noticed any collective themes or messages that shine through this exhibit?
Every girl has her own experiences and her own story to draw inspiration for her work from, no two girls are the same, but I do notice that collectively these females are honest and fearless – whether it is through their work that addresses eating disorders, menstruation, girls rallying for social causes, and more. They are unafraid to show who they really are and what they really care about, regardless of how society is going to react, and I think this is incredibly admirable. So many times girls are shamed into silence on so many matters that affect them the most, having to carry that weight throughout their lives. Girls should know that they too have a voice and it will be heard.
What do you hope people take away from this exhibit?
I hope through this exhibit, the viewer becomes more aware of the many issues that women live with generation after generation – whether it be regarding mental illness, gynecological disorders, racial injustices, gender inequality, and so on. Not every two women’s struggles may be the same, but just because it is not happening to one does not mean it is not happening to another. The dialogue regarding these matters needs to be opened and injected into everyday conversation so that change and reformation can occur.
Do you have any future projects or pop-ups we should look out for?
Yes! I hope to plan more future Teen Dream programming here in NYC as well as other cities all over, including music and film, and everything in between, to help further address these issues females are faced with everyday. In general I have a very strong interest in planning issue-focused art shows, my last one, “Weekend with Bernie”, was with conceptual artist Matt Starr and involved getting young individuals more interested and excited about voting. As someone who has lived with anxiety and PTSD from a young age, I would like to also explore using the arts specifically to help de-stigmatize mental illness and mood disorders in young females – a huge amount of individuals live with mental illness, yet society still does not want to properly acknowledge this very real part of people’s everyday lives.
Visit Teen Dream at Brooklyn Wayfarers Saturday and Sunday, April 16 – 17 from 12pm – 5pm at 1109 De Kalb Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11221. More info can be found via the event’s Facebook event.
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