Sometime in my early post-adolescence, around the time I started to study art seriously, it occurred to me that most adults might have no idea what they’re doing. While I’m starting to get over it, this is a trauma revisited with every cocky curator or inarticulate grad student I encounter. Watch out. There are a lot of them out there.
The flip side of this is that there are many non-adults who can play at least up to par. In founding the for-us-by-us Teen Art Gallery (T.A.G.), Audrey Banks, a high school senior, showed as much competence and savvy as many adults with MAs in Arts Administration. Yes, she had some advantages: she grew up in New York, attends Bard High School Early College on the Lower East Side, and got the idea of starting a gallery from her aunt, who is a painter. Paris Starn, who coordinates public relations for T.A.G., is the daughter of photographer Mike Starn and Anne Pasternak, the director and artistic director of Creative Time. While it’s unlikely that they had to re-invent the directorial wheel, Banks and her staff fielded more than 700 submissions for her last exhibition. A post earlier this week on her website announced another one planned for this March.
Credit where credit is due, right? We at Art Fag City heartily applaud the energy and self-starting spirit that a project like this represents, even as we bear in mind the things that can go wrong when the art world embraces youth too eagerly. After they’ve shown at T.A.G., though, one wonders what will happen next to an exhibition’s contributors. Hopefully, they’ll go to art school, refine their skills, and expose themselves to work by other artists. In other words, they’ll do what they were going to do anyway. The space on their resumes occupied by their work with Banks will be pushed downward as soon as they have something to fill it.
Whether anyone can be a painter is up for debate, and not always a useful one. Being a curator or gallerist, on the other hand, definitely requires adult skills, including an ability to find unique works of art in the haystack of portfolios, letters, emails, and word-of-mouth recommendations that come your way. This, in turn, takes experience, which is hard to come by without turning eighteen. In any case, we hope Ms Banks finds it.