Teen team makes High a destination for art lovers of all ages

Local teens from all over the metro Atlanta area are now gathering at the High Museum of Art for open studios, poetry nights, jewelry making, and even the occasional film festival. The High’s Teen Team program helps to plan and to advertise these monthly events to different schools and communities, allowing teens to get involved at the museum through a wide range of opportunities.  Westminster junior Evelyn Gould has been a part of Teen Team this year, helping to coordinate all of its activities, including a film festival, and learning more about the community around her in the process.

“I loved getting to know everybody [on Teen Team],” said Gould. “The people who I got to work with are all from around Atlanta, no one goes to the same school, and getting to know different types of people was so fun.  I got to meet artists at the High Museum and I got to know the security guards, all the people that work there; we were all a giant family.”

The High Museum of Art chooses around 15 rising seniors or juniors to be part of Teen Team for the year.  They then meet for eight weeks over the summer and once a month during the school year to help plan teen-related events for the High Museum.  The teenagers who are chosen for the program can be any kind of artist: a painter, a filmmaker, a photographer, or just an art enthusiast.

“The Teen Team program is a hand-picked group of teens, chosen for their passion, artistic interests, community involvement, and aspirations (among other things),” said Katie Bush, coordinator of youth and community programs at the High Museum. “We don’t require applicants to be an artist, we just look for teens that have a genuine interest in the arts, education, and community engagement. ..We try to get a good mix of people from all backgrounds, from all parts of Atlanta, and who would work well together.”

Having a diverse group of high school students working together on Teen Team helps to make the High Museum of Art’s teen events available and exciting to anyone in the Atlanta area.  The activities at the High Museum of Art allow teenagers around Atlanta to meet people from different schools and form relationships through their mutual interest in art.  The Teen Team itself forms its own community of 15 members who would not have known each other without the program.

“It was really interesting [working with students from different schools], because I typically don’t get to know a lot of people from outside of Westminster,” said Gould. “I was nervous at first, but everyone was very outgoing and kind.  Even on the first day, people who had been on the Teen Team before said that we would just start to love each other and become a giant family.  We started off just getting to know each other and soon we realized that because we all loved art we had so much in common.  Then it became so easy to work with everyone because we all just got along.”

According to Bush, the Teen Team was started four years ago in order to create more artistic opportunities for Atlanta teenagers.  The High Museum of Art hopes to encourage teens to participate in the artistic culture of Atlanta as well as inspire high school students to become artists themselves.

“Teens are the future!” said Bush. “You are the next generation of art makers, art goers, art patrons, and the list goes on. I believe that, if we can get teens to have positive museum experiences now, that a seed is planted. Hopefully, that seed will grow into people who enjoy going to museums, seeing art, experiencing music, appreciating theatre, and so forth. All museums and cultural institutions have so much to offer, so the earlier that you can begin to appreciate it, the better! The Teen Team is a great program because it gives teens the rare opportunity to see the inner workings of an art museum, all of the jobs that go along with it, and to cultivate or develop an appreciation for art and community engagement (which means programming/scheduling events for the public).”

The Teen Team members work on one big project over the summer; during the past two years that has included a full-blown art exhibit and a film festival.  In 2013, the team created an art exhibit called Intersection X  that was then showcased at the High Museum, and this year the group coordinated Reel Riot Film Festival, which included 20 teen-made films from all around the United States and Canada.

“We’re not filmmakers but we had submissions from America and also France, Germany, and Japan,” said Gould. “We decided that this was something we wanted to put together and it was all films by teens for teens.  We had all different genres and we had to watch all the videos.  I think we got around 75 submissions from all over the world so it took around 10 hours to watch all of them.  It was really interesting though, because you got to have teens use their creativity and speak their mind in film.”

All of the marketing that goes into Teen Team and the events that they create, such as the film festival, comes from the members themselves.  The Teen Team comes up with strategies on how to advertise their events to teenagers across Atlanta and then makes the advertisements themselves.

“The Teen Team is in charge of marketing their own events!” said Bush. “This summer, they put together the Reel Riot Film Festival: A film fest for teens, by teens. They came up with the marketing plan, they worked with the graphics department to develop the flyers, they hung up the flyers, tweeted, posted, etc. The success of the festival was in their hands! The Teen Team is also in charge of programming (putting together) Teen Nights at the High Museum. They came up with the entire event, and, again, were in charge of developing flyers, marketing it, and more. I think at one point during this summer, we drew a map of Atlanta and had come up with a plan of coffee houses to post flyers at. It got pretty strategic!”

Through Teen Team, the members get to learn how to market their own events as well as study how the High Museum of Art plans all of their art exhibitions.  They meet local artists and learn what art is prevalent throughout Atlanta as well as the artists’ visions.

“We really are trying to get teens to come into the museum and to use the programs, so every day we did different marketing projects,” said Gould. “I barely knew anything going into this program, but there is so much work that goes into it [at the High Museum of Art], like just picking out the color of the wall to go with the art.  Every single detail is just done so perfectly and calculated and I got to learn all about that process.  We also go to meet some of the artists that made the work and we got to learn the stories behind it.”

Gould passionately participates in art classes at Westminster and hopes to become an art teacher in the future.  Her love for art was only enhanced through her experience at the High Museum of Art.

“Evelyn is one of the most driven students I have ever had,” said AP Art teacher Lauren Sleat.“She’s one of the kindest, amazing lovely human beings on the planet, she truly is a really good human.  Her artwork is lovely, well thought out, she is deliberate and dedicated to her work, I cannot say enough nice things about her.”

As the Teen Team continues its program for this summer, Gould’s own incredible experience makes her want to encourage any Westminster students to apply for the program.  The applications are due by March 27th for the summer of 2015.

“I still kind of work [with Teen Team], I go there once or twice a month to help out,” said Gould. “I love being there, getting to know the people, and still getting to have a little bit of an influence on the museum.  I really hope that we can find another Westminster person to do [Teen Team] because if somebody else could have that experience that would be awesome.  I also hope to get people from Westminster to go to different events there because it’s so fun and unique; it’s really an awesome experience for people to have.”