Teens from across Bellevue not only submitted pieces to the Bellevue Arts Museum’s annual “20 Under 20” exhibit, they took on the challenge of judging the works and curating the exhibit.
BAM’s Teen Arts Council caters to teenagers ages 14 to 18 who are interested in art, museums and the Bellevue community. Those accepted into the competitive program plan art workshops and parties for teens at the museum, in addition to working on the “20 Under 20” exhibit.
Newport High School teacher Danielle Miles said she has encouraged many students to send in pieces for “20 Under 20” to challenge them and give them some exposure to the art world.
“For a lot of them, it really helps their confidence. To be shown in an actual art gallery gives them a lot of confidence to go forward and pursue art in the future,” she said.
Past students recognized in the “20 Under 20” exhibit have gone on to study art in college, including one student who is currently studying fashion design at Parsons School of Design in New York.
Many of the young members of the BAM’s Teen Arts Council said it was challenging to judge and choose the 20 winning pieces this year.
Applications began coming in and the council began working on the show in February. This year, they received close to 100 applications and pieces of artwork from which they had to choose.
Numerous members said they were surprised by the diversity and skill of the art pieces submitted.
“It opened my eyes to a bunch of artwork. There are so many creative ways that students have chosen to display their vision. It completely changed my perspective,” said teen council member Esha Gulati, 17, who has been on the “20 Under 20” jury twice in the past.
Applicants had the option to attach written statements about their pieces and the motivations behind them, given fuel for thought to the jury members, who did not know the artists’ names or ages.
“It was hard to judge, yes… Some of the stories were really touching. There was one in particular that I remember about anxiety and (the artist) trying to express that in their art,” said council member Jackie Sin, 19.
Given the skill and complexity of the work being submitted, the Council has considered displaying all of the work and simply highlighting 20 featured pieces, but has not made any definitive plans for next year.
Overall, the experience has taught them a great deal about the art world, and themselves, they said.
Though she would once describe herself as an introvert, Charlene Lam said she grew to love discussing the works of art with other members of the Teen Arts Council.
And although her mother is an artist and has been involved in the Teen Arts Council for two years, Gulati said she never fully knew what went on behind the scenes to put together an art exhibit.
“I never really thought about curating art until I joined the Teen Arts Council,” she said. “Something that’s really nice about this process is that you see how people put stuff together in the exhibit, and get firsthand experience of what really goes on in museums.”
Other council members agreed, and said they could see the impact it had in the community.
“It’s really rewarding, and it gives the teens in the Bellevue area experience doing a really hands on project,” said Council member Soyon Hwang, 18. “Career and college prep wise, it’s given everyone a lot of experience.”
The “20 Under 20” exhibit will be open at BAM through October 4.