Before I moved to New York, I was fortunate enough to take a studio art class in my middle school in my home country of New Zealand. During that class, we analyzed Pop art of the 1960s by looking at small reproductions of famous paintings from the period. A few months later, I moved to New York with my family, and I was able to see the paintings I had coveted in my sketchbook in the flesh. I swear I could feel a shiver run down my spine, when in that moment, I was able to view, and truly appreciate, the works firsthand—not just projections or printouts.
I have only felt this twice in my life: the first time was the aforementioned moment, the second time was viewing Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977 , on display at MoMA. Yet I feel this sensation should occur more frequently. Living in a city that fosters and champions a diverse art community, shouldn’t I appreciate and notice all art that is produced from this unique place? I have probably asked this question in mind too many times, but I feel it is either a matter of sheer accessibility to art, or the fact that art has simply evolved to be something ubiquitous, or that being in such a fast-paced environment has simply frazzled my mind. I digress; I must emphasize what a privilege it is to live in a city that makes art so readily available to those who are interested.
I was curious to see if I was alone in feeling this way, so, as any insecure adolescent would do, I sent out a survey. The recipients of this survey were students at my school, Elizabeth Irwin High School. The responses seemed to be unanimous—all but a few took care to notice and appreciate the art that surrounds them in their daily lives (I am categorizing art here in the broadest sense). I also wanted to gauge the impact being in New York has on those who took the quiz. Again, the respondents unanimously agreed that New York has altered their perception of the art world, both positively and negatively. Some felt that the sheer amount of work that is produced from this city makes it hard to truly value what they consider to be art, while others felt that the aforementioned hindrance was instead a way to value of all forms of art.
I honestly cannot say that I am surprised at this data as my school has a strong community ties, and is greatly aware of the privilege that comes with living in New York. I wish I could appreciate this city fully, because I truly do understand its uniqueness, yet sometimes the sensory overload that comes with living here can also obscure it. After seeing the responses to this survey, however, I realize that I should be more attentive to the art that surrounds me, wherever I may encounter it, and I hope that after reading this you might feel the same way, too.This week, every post on Inside/Out is created by participants in the MoMA + MoMA PS1 Cross-Museum Collective, a behind-the-scenes program for teenage alumni of our In the Making studio-art classes. Over the course of the 16-week project, the participating teens work with educators, curators, security staff, conservators, and other Museum staff to gain hands-on experience across a number of fields. In addition, they create collaborative artwork with a range of contemporary artists. More info can be found HERE and HERE. Info on our 2014 free summer art courses for teens is available now.