What in the World Are We Going to Do with All Of this Future? This is certainly a daunting question for some, but for the MOCAD Teen Council, it was a thematic choice put at the forefront of their 2019 youth driven art exhibition – the Applebaum Teen Exhibition at MOCAD.
Building upon Applebaum Family Philanthropy’s investment in MOCAD’s Teen Council, the Applebaum Teen Exhibition aims to inspire Detroit’s youth to tackle societal issues through an artistic lens. Making sense of our “future’s future” certainly requires an inspired level of individual contemplation. Among the next generation, a collective effort of expression empowerment might be the best approach.
This is the essential aim of the Applebaum Teen Exhibition, enabling the Teen Council to deliver a completely youth driven art experience, with autonomy over the exhibition journey from selection to curation. For 4 months, Teen Council members spearheaded the exhibition’s planning and preparation by proposing and selecting the theme, helping develop the statement for the show, promoting the call, curating the exhibition layout, helping install the works, and organizing the opening reception. The preparation also featured a series of workshops lead by professional teaching artists for community youth to engage in, leading to a variety of submitted works for the exhibition.
The result was a moving and inspiring presentation of work on show at MOCAD from April 18-28, 2019, responding to the current state of the world and its chaotic movements. The callout implored teens:
“Stop for a second! Look up and notice the world around you – cars, clothes, sirens, food, horns, trees, clouds, music, stinking air, streets, buildings, flowers, dirty puddles, talking, sun, birds, people, ALL the people. We are bombarded, overstimulated without even realizing or wanting it. “Overdone” is the name of the game every day. “What do we want? BIGGER and BETTER! When do we want it? NOW!”
The clock of consumption ticks on and on, calling us to greedily take and take. We used to produce, but now we consume: money, time, anything to try to fill the emptiness inside. All that consumption and consequent waste has made our world a mess. It’s a pigsty out here. Who’s cleaning it up?
Stop. Just stop what you’re doing. Pause to think. Pause to make. Pause to communicate on what the future holds if we don’t stop, or if we do. MOCAD Teen Council presents “PIGSTY!,” a deep dive into societal pressure on young minds and bodies to consume without consideration for future generations.
We’re living through a time when humans are being called to face serious existential challenges. Youth coming of age in our time are becoming more aware of the responsibilities that fall upon their shoulders to reckon with humanity’s over-consumptive, overstimulated, and wasteful ways. Teens over the world are organizing themselves to speak up and speak out about these issues in order to create powerful change.”
– Applebaum Teen Exhibition Callout Poster, 2019
Detroit submitted work in response to this callout in a variety of formats. The exhibit featured 47 distinct 2D and 3D works including photography, film, painting, printmaking, drawing, collage and mixed media sculpture/installation. The opening night reception also set the stage for an open mic night which attracted young poets and writers to participate and communicate their voice to central theme.
Shea Montgomery, HEART and SOUL Image courtesy of MOCAD
Tom Mcnelis, Prescribed Death. Photo by Jeff Cancelosi
Romeo Klobucar, Inhuman Human. Photo by Melissa Cunnigham
Teen Council Member, Roderick Hardamon sets the scene for the audience at the Open Mic portion of the Applebaum Teen Exhibition. Photo by Felisha Hatcher
Over 140 teens and community members attended the opening night reception and drew over 1,100 visitors during the exhibition.
For those who attended, you could not help but be moved by the series of thoughtful questions, comments and anxieties brought to the surface by these teens. Their creative voice may not have offered distinct clarity. Yet, it is the coming together which provides the most lasting direction of all — leaving us feeling a bit better about our future.
MOCAD Teen Council 2019 from MOCAD on Vimeo.
For more info: https://mocadetroit.org/teen-council/