Aug 05, 2016

Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA, has been known to say that the ICA Teens are the heart and soul of the institution. The members of the ICA Teen Council work on site several times a week for years, and their faces are as familiar around the offices as those of the staff. Students in the Fast Forward program may spend more after-school time here than anywhere else.

Their engagement with the ICA combines hard work (organizing huge events), artist encounters (meeting or making art with artists, choreographers, authors, and musicians), creative projects (making films), and amazing opportunities (meeting Michelle Obama, Whoopi Goldberg, and Harvey Weinstein at the White House).

This week, four standout ICA teens will take active roles in the 8th annual National Convening for Teens in the Arts , the ICA’s groundbreaking opportunity for teens from around the country to gather and work toward increasing and improving teens’ role in museum settings, serving as emcees and moderating panels. We asked each of them to share their thoughts on the Convening and some of their most memorable experiences with the ICA.


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Name: Amireh 
Hometown/neighborhood: Cambridge, MA
School: Homeschooler
Plans for after graduation: To take advantage of the possibilities

This year’s Convening is called After the Bell, and is about alternative spaces that contribute to teens’ education. How has the ICA contributed to your education? What does this space mean to you? What can teens get from spaces like the ICA that they might not get in school?

The ICA is a great reminder of how I can learn outside a traditional classroom. We never have homework or tests when we’re at the ICA, but I still learn a lot. Having the experience to lead tours in the galleries, plan events, and give formal presentations in front of large audiences has helped me to develop skills not often taught in school.

What can young people stand to gain from regular exposure to making, seeing, and talking about art?

When we spend time in the galleries with Teen Arts Council or museum visitors, the conversations we have are always different. Spending time engaging with art, whether it be making art, seeing art, or talking about it, opens up new ideas and possibilities.

Spending time engaging with art, whether it be making art, seeing art, or talking about it, opens up new ideas and possibilities.

What are you most excited about for this year’s Teen Convening?

Since I also attended last year’s Teen Convening, I know that there are so many exciting things to look forward to. However, my favorite part is seeing all the presentations the different museums give. It’s interesting to know what other teen programs are doing across the country and to be able to use it as inspiration for our own events.

What is the weirdest or most memorable thing you’ve ever done at the ICA?

On the Teen Arts Council everyone jokes about living at the ICA, but for one night this past year we all did! Having a sleepover at the ICA is definitely the most memorable and weirdest thing I have done at the ICA. It was also a perfect ending to our Teen Arts Council meetings for the year.


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Name: Beatrice
Neighborhood: Jamaica Plain
School: Boston Latin Academy
Plans for after graduation: Going to the Philippines for a month, camp counseling for two weeks, then college. 

This year’s Convening is called After the Bell, and is about alternative spaces that contribute to teens’ education. How has the ICA contributed to your education? What does this space mean to you? What can teens get from spaces like the ICA that they might not get in school?

The ICA’s year-long film program, Fast Forward, has been the only source of art education in my high school career. My creativity now has a constructive home to manifest in, thanks to the support of museum educators who are passionate about film and work to make class a safe space. My life isn’t separate from my work when I’m in the ICA, so after the bell on Friday afternoons I go to class in the museum’s digital studio and I feel like I can really be myself and share my ideas. 

What can young people stand to gain from regular exposure to making, seeing, and talking about art?

Art can challenge, affirm, and open up the thoughts of a young person who is viewing it. Art is a way of being exposed to experiences other than one’s own that the viewer would normally not have access to. Young art viewers can make connections and learn about themselves while seeing the work of others. 

Art is a way of being exposed to experiences other than one’s own that the viewer would normally not have access to.

What are you most excited about for this year’s Teen Convening?

I’m so excited to meet the other teen museum representatives in person! I’m kind of obsessed with them already from just talking with them on the online forums leading up to the conference… I hope they have fun at Teen Night

What is the weirdest or most memorable thing you’ve ever done at the ICA?

Another Fast Forward student asked me to act in his film… I did it and it was cool to see how other people shoot their films, but at the screening it was so strange and cringe-inducing watching my moving image on the screen acting as a cool girl punk singer. 


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Name: Nick
Neighborhood: East Boston
School: MassArt
Plans for after college graduation: Travel cross-country

This year’s Convening is called After the Bell, and is about alternative spaces that contribute to teens’ education. How has the ICA contributed to your education? What does this space mean to you? What can teens get from spaces like the ICA that they might not get in school?

The ICA has provided me with an education in film that my high school could not. Being a part of the Fast Forward program was such an enriching experience that it influenced my major in college. This space has provided me with many opportunities that stem from challenges I wished to face. I was pushed to make ideas like “movie about pizza”—something that has substance and is interesting. Allowing me and encouraging me to bring ideas to life, no matter how ridiculous, the ICA has been a place where I have really developed as a person and understood what it’s like to create art.

What can young people stand to gain from regular exposure to making, seeing, and talking about art?

I think being regularly exposed to art allows young people to recognize art around them much more easily. Being encouraged to analyze something one might not fully understand or be comfortable with can help in so many other different aspects of life. I’m not saying everything is art, but it probably could be.

I did yoga with Whoopi Goldberg at the White House.

What are you most excited about for this year’s Teen Convening?

I’m excited to meet the other teens and learn about what their lives are like and see how they connect and relate to mine.

What is the weirdest or most memorable thing you’ve ever done at the ICA?

Because of the ICA, I was “punched in the face” in the same spot that Martin Sheen landed on when he was thrown off the roof in The Departed, and I did yoga with Whoopi Goldberg at the White House.


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Name: Sienna
Hometown/neighborhood: Lower Mills
School: Boston Latin Academy
Plans for after graduation: College

This year’s Convening is called After the Bell, and is about alternative spaces that contribute to teens’ education. How has the ICA contributed to your education? What does this space mean to you? What can teens get from spaces like the ICA that they might not get in school?

The ICA has contributed the art education that my school didn’t provide. Without it, I would have no real connection to the art world. I’ve learned how to give tours, how to plan events, how to work in groups, and I even had the chance to do job shadowing! Learning about art careers and meeting artists is the best art education I could have. Museum spaces have always seemed exclusive and far removed, but the ICA encourages teens to jump into the museum space and feel comfortable in it. There’s something enriching about talking to an artist about their work, while you’re standing in the middle of piece or having artists talk to teens, as teens. Teens can definitely get an immersive look at the contemporary art world at the ICA. They can meet artists, see their work, and have in depth discussions about the pieces with the artist! They can make the museum space their own and remove the air of exclusivity that sometimes surrounds museums.

Learning about art careers and meeting artists is the best art education I could have.

What can young people stand to gain from regular exposure to making, seeing, and talking about art?

We can stand to gain a new perspective. As simple as that is, it’s really important. Interacting with art, especially if you don’t interact with it normally, can give you new ideas, different outlooks on life, and more creative ways to solve problems.

What are you most excited about for this year’s Teen Convening?

Meeting all the visiting teens, our presentations, and, of course, Teen Night!

What is the weirdest or most memorable thing you’ve ever done at the ICA?

Being a cherub for Yanira Castro’s Court/Garden performance.