September 6, 2012  |  Events & Programs, Family & Kids
MoMA Teens TRASH Our Galleries! In the Making Summer 2012

A house made from recycled materials by the Dumpster Diving teens

The walls are lined with stained strips of cardboard, 40-ounce bottles half-full of malt liquor and cigarette butts hang from plywood structures, a three-foot long plaster condom lays strewn across the marble floor, the words “F*CK IT” stretch across a wall—carved into a pile of SAT test prep books… And what’s that robotic shrieking coming from that closet-sized room? It sounds like the MoMA teens have taken over our gallery space again—and we couldn’t be more proud!

Teen artists, educators, and supporters flood the gallery

From left: visitors admire the MoMA Teens’ version of NYC’s famous Wall Street bull sculpture; an artist poses in the Double Jointed boat

On the evening of August 17, 80 teen artists—along with over a hundred more friends, families, and supporters—streamed through MoMA’s Cullman Education and Research Building to celebrate the work of our Summer 2012 In the Making program. Consisting of four different hands-on art making courses—each meeting three hours a day, three days a week, for six consecutive weeks—MoMA’s long-running In the Making course is one of the largest and most intensive free arts programs in New York City. This summer’s exhibition was the largest show we’ve ever done, and the walls and floor of the gallery are currently packed full with hundreds of pieces of teen-created art, including: three different full-size soapbox derby cars, a twig and branch boat, an oversized bull’s head, motorized sculptures, life-sized cardboard and wood figures, architectural models, video installations, linocuts, and the amazingly “dirty” objects mentioned before. Here are some highlights from each course:


Cruising on the Circle Line!

Under the guidance of artist Alan Calpe, the teens in Crossing the Border explored the city itself, looking for ways to turn their physical movement into visual artwork. Along the way, they took a cruise on the Circle Line (a first for everyone in the class!), traveled to the Explorers Club to see the new Mark Dion show, shopped for souvenirs in Times Square, and even traveled by tram across the river to Roosevelt Island. Final projects included creating new sculptural monuments to NYC (a rat holding a Metrocard, the used condom sculpture mentioned above), created their own versions of tourist souvenirs, and made films, photos, and prints exploring their own relationships with movement, their city, and the spaces (public as well as private) that surround us.

From left: Crossing the Border teens making art on the Roosevelt Island Tram; creating the bull “skeleton”


From left: “Auctioning” their trash-based art in Times Square; a found object masterpiece!

Kerry Downey and the Dumpster Divers undertook an almost Herculean task—to create a hands-on art making course using only the materials that they could find by scavenging and searching through the city’s dumpsters, streets, alleyways, and parks. The group visited Greenpoint’s industrial zone, “shopped” Materials for the Arts for discarded and recycled supplies, disrupted Times Square with an impromptu performance piece, and even plumbed the depths of MoMA’s own sanitation system and the underground pathways that run beneath. Turning literal trash into treasured pieces of art, the teens filled our exhibition space with an instillation that combined DIY aesthetics, print-based art, and sculptural derring-do.

From left: dumpster divers exploring Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s unknown treasures; MoMA’s exhibition, Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan, provides ample inspiration


Learning how to write code and manipulate motors

The fourth installment of our CLICK@MoMA series of digital media courses for teens focused on the ways in which people and machines interact on a personal (dare we say even emotional) level. Led by interactive artist Kacie Kinzer, whose Tweenbots were a highlight of last year’s Talk To Me exhibition, this season’s course explored the art and technology behind our endless fascination with connecting human characteristics to non-human objects. Teens learned how to write code using Arduino, wire and solder circuitry, and increase the power of their sculptural projects by adding interactive elements to everything they made. Final projects screamed (after participants sat down in a rigged-up chair), scooted, blinked, whirred, and generally shook up the crowd.

From left: Click@MoMA teens using iPads in the galleries; guest artist Ithai Benjamin interacts with a friend

The MoMA Teens wood shop

Following up on his amazing Summer 2011 Shred, Thrash, Carve: The Visual Art of Skateboard Culture course sculptor Keith Mendak threw caution to the wind and created a fully-functional wood shop inside the MoMA Teens studio spaces. Each day saw the group exploring a brand new aspect of this amazing, yet often overlooked, material: from balsa wood to paper and cardboard, 2x4s, and even twigs and sticks, the teens were given a thorough overview of a multitude of art-making techniques. The course even spent a week-long residency at Brooklyn’s Tri Lox Studios, creating three amazing soapbox derby cars and gaining experience working with handsaws, jigsaws, drills, and more.

From left: trying out the soapbox derby cars outside Tri Lox’s Brooklyn studio; taking the boat to Central Park for a “test drive”

The In the Making: Summer 2012 teen art show is on view in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Center until September 13, see below for additional images of works in the exhibition. For more information on MoMA Teen Programs, please visit

Final CLICK@MoMA projects

From left: final CLICK@MoMA projects; Crossing the Border’s new monuments to New York City–shown here, a rat with a Metrocard

Final Crossing the Border projects

From left: soapbox derby car constructed by “Team Awesome”; a human figure from the Double-Jointed class

Final projects from Double-Jointed

From left: the Dumpster Divers team constructed an explorable house using recycled materials; limited-edition zines and a found text piece

In the Making tote bags were created and distributed to all of the teen artists!