We’re all familiar with the time-honored “What I Did Last Summer” essay. For many of us, this dreaded homework assignment meant trying to glamorize the hours we spent busing tables at a local restaurant or counting license plates on a family road trip. But for five hundred New York City teens, “What I Did Last Summer” is a chance to revisit their experience as participants in The Museum of Modern Art’s intensive studio art program, In the Making: Summer at MoMA. At this year’s annual In the Making alumni event, participants from the past seven years arrived to shouts of “I haven’t seen you in so long!” or “Wait, what year did you do the program?”
As program coordinator, I joined in too, often biting my tongue to keep from exclaiming, “Wow, you’ve grown up so much!” But as I watched the ways in which alumni from multiple years settled happily and comfortably right back into the Museum, I began to wonder just what they really did remember from their summers at MoMA. And so I brought back that cliché question and went straight to the source: Facebook.
Within minutes, several In the Making alumni replied on our MoMA Teens page with their own reflections on “What I Did Last Summer”
(or a few summers prior in the case of some older alums).
I Learned to Express Myself
For sure, I think I learned a lot more on how to express myself—how to be more creative, more meaningful…. you know, you’re with these people for some odd weeks or so, and everyone’s diversity, rubs off on you a bit. I found myself using a girl’s headband as an inspiration for color for my book design… it’s like you need to be that pink elephant in the room, to separate yourself from the rest of the crowd. —LaShonda, 2005
I Learned That Art Is Everywhere
I learned so many things in my summer of In the Making. Some of the things I learned is that art is about perspective. When I finished the In the Making program I swear that the world around me changed. Everywhere I turned I saw art. Another thing I learned is more about my personal creativity. Since I left In the Making I learned how much I love making collages, photography, drawing, and designing or making clothes. I learned how art is a part of my life and I realized how important art is in the world. Art allows us to have a voice, to express ourselves freely, and to push ourselves beyond our limits. One of my favorite artists that we visited was Swoon. I love the approach she has about art. Art is a public thing to be shared with the world and it can grow, mold, or be rained on but it’s growing, changing, and inspiring. —Daisey, 2005
I Learned to Be an Artist
My summer at In the Making was definitely a huge moment for me. It was the first time I was able to learn about filmmaking and finally get to pick up a camera and shoot whatever I wanted. Being there helped shape me into the writer and director I am today and I was given such huge support by the educators at the program. That summer will always be known to me as the summer I made my first short film. —Michael, 2006
I Learned That Art Has an Impact
In the Making taught me how to take the small ideas wandering in my head and turn them into bigger more intricate and technical art projects. Being visited by different artists and meeting so many creative individuals inspired me to keep on making art, because it made me realize I’m not the only creative one out there. It gave me a sense of friendly competition that made me want to keep on making art to my best extent. One would think that an art class at the MoMA would be meant to improve your physical art skill, and it really did teach me a lot of new techniques. But the biggest impact the classes had on me was mentally. It changed my approach towards an art project. It made me realize art is not only something visually appealing but something that can have meaning and impact too. You can say In the Making defined Art for me. It made me realize how much I love making art and showing it to people, and gave me a hope in my future career as a photographer. —Alberto, 2009
I Learned That Art Is a Tool
What I learned over my In The Making course was that my art can be a weapon. It can be a way to effect change, a way to challenge societal norms and cultural pressures, a way to resist and rebel without violence. I learned that activist and artist can go hand in hand and I learned that I am both in equal measure. —Alessandra, 2008
I Made Lifelong Friends
I learned the beauty of collaborating with a group of outstanding artists to create something that is impossible to create alone. —Briana, 2009
What I enjoyed most about this class is being able to communicate with
other young artists. Being able to share each other’s art, stories, and company was a great experience that taught me so much about art
and life in general. —Nicholle, 2009
Expressing yourself, becoming an artist, seeing art everywhere, and making friends? Not bad for a summer vacation. No wonder MoMA’s In the Making alumni keep coming back. This year’s alumni event—entitled In the Making and Beyond—included career development workshops, art-making activities, a Q&A session on life after high school, and, as with any teen program, a fair amount of socializing (and pizza-eating).
On August 12, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., come by MoMA’s Education and Research Building on to see the works produced from this year’s graduates of In the Making: Summer at MoMA. The exhibition of their final projects will be open to the public through September 14, 2010.
Note: Are you an In the Making alumnus? If so, stay in touch by joining the MoMA: In the Making Alumni group.