YoungArts Through the Lens of the Future

National YoungArts Foundation promotes YoungArts Week—a week that has been happening for the past 35 years—as a life-changing experience.  With 12,000+ artists from around the country ages 15 to 18 applying to be part of YoungArts Week, only 170 winners have been selected in the visual, literary, performing, design and cinematic arts. 

This competitive process takes a backseat to the actual learning and development that happens during the program.  Observing master classes with luminaries in their field such as contemporary artist Jean Shin, jazz legend Jimmy Heath, or MacArthur Genius Terrell McCraney, and seeing these winners grace the stage at New World Symphony or exhibit on the YoungArts Campus, it’s easy to slip into the shoes of our teenage selves in imagining the impact of this moment.

Nadia Wolff, a student at the Design and Architecture School in Miami Design District, is one of only three local winners in two disciplines: visual arts and design arts.  Interested in issues of identity, gender politics and interpersonal relationships, she explores culture and the self through collage, painting, and mixed media.  Wolff explains, “I use my art as a form of documentation.”  Daveed Baptiste, another two-discipline winner in visual arts and photography from DASH, speaks openly about how his hardships fueled his creative consciousness, reminding him that he is in ultimate control of his thoughts and ideas.

For many of these emerging artists, being surrounded by like-minded individuals at their level offers a sense of belonging.  For those behind the scenes working as mentors, panelists, coaches, advisors and administrators, YoungArts is a window into the possibilities of dreams and wonder—the kind of magical stuff that comes with watching fully-expressed young people in élan.

YoungArts’ upcoming events include alumnus Jason Moran (1993 Winner in Jazz) in his groundbreaking performance which premiered at the Kennedy Center.  A blend of jazz, skateboarding and new media, Moran’s “Outside the Box” happening is slated for Saturday, February 6 at 7 p.m. at YoungArts Plaza, followed by a Salon talk on Sunday, February 7 at 4 p.m. at the Ted’s space.  For more information and tickets, visit