I’m Walking ‘Ere asked teens of New York: Why are you proud of your identity? Living in New York, one can get lost in the crowd of ambitious young lights. What is it like to develop your voice as a creator amidst the hustle and bustle? Take this opportunity to express yourself through the New York state of mind.
Adele Sin Yee Ho
Joel Ray Jr
Hannah Jung & Helen Zambrano
HZ: What version of New York City do you want to portray in your artwork?
HJ: New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world. My piece “What’s Next?” portrays the connections from so many different cultures, values, and beliefs, which has shaped me to who I am today. These experiences and interactions have continuously inspired me to stay on the path to my dreams. I wonder what will happen next.
HZ: How do you want viewers to feel by looking at your artwork?
HJ: I mostly create artworks based on possible struggles involving human emotions that people may encounter in their lives. I appreciate the viewers’ honest interpretations towards my piece while reflecting on their own experiences as well. I imagine the viewers would have a strong sense of empathy and comfort, as if there were someone out there who actually understands what they are going through.
HZ: What or who is your biggest inspiration?
HJ: I say that I am my own biggest inspiration. Art has always been a positive coping strategy while dealing with depression, providing me an emergency exit from the long dark tunnel I was placed in. I became happier and more confident through every creation process, all of which have further motivated me to pursue a career in this field. As I found sanctuary through art, I hope that my creations can comfort others who may be still going through their darkest times.
Roberto Quesada & Sanaa Sanders
SS: How does living in NYC affect your creative process?
RQ: New York is an extremely diverse city and this reflects in my creative process. I live in Queens – the most ethnically diverse county in the United States – and on my morning commute I see people from all over the world including many other Latinos. This has helped me understand the struggles facing various groups and has taught me about the obstacles we have in common. Many of my art pieces touch on the diversity of New York City and the relationships between residents.
SS: What do you want the viewer to take away from your artwork?
RQ: I want viewers to get an idea of the diversity of Latin America and how many of the stereotypes placed on the region are not accurate. A lot of the rhetoric regarding the people “south of the border” has caused those in the U.S. to see Latinos as one big monolith. Mestizaje breaks this apart and reflects on the history of race mixing in Latin America. On that note, I also want this to motivate people to research about the history of Latin America and how race mixing occurred through colonization. This knowledge helps explain many of the social issues we face today in the community.
SS: What do you use as a driving force to keep you going forward as an artist?
RQ: My desire for social change drives me as an artist. I use visual art to capture moments in time and explain my perspective on issues through a different lens. The political scene is always changing and there are always new topics to discuss, and that pushes me to continue making more artwork so that I can make my voice heard.
SS: Who or what inspired your artwork？
RQ: I came up with the idea for this art piece when I was filling out a form for AP exams and realized that the racial categorizations did not fit me at all, even though I was expected to fill in one of the boxes. This reminded me of other experiences such as when I had filled out the census, and the racial confusion that resulted. This art piece is a reflection of my frustration with systems that don’t reflect the actual diversity or racial composition of many of the people in the U.S.