ABSTRACT

Young people live through art. Music, film, YouTube, dance, magazines: popular and high forms of art are the languages young people speak. The ways young people consume and make art articulate their voice. School systems and popular culture encourage young people to be particular kinds of subjects in the way art is taught. Often, young people desire these forms of subjection. But making art can also be a resistance, a subcultural response to a perceived norm. It can be a way of acquiescing; regardless, when a young person makes a work of art they effect a political statement, call the public to attention and invest in particular ideas about identity, community, and belonging. More than this, tastes in consuming popular art, practices of participating in youth arts, and representations of such communities are means and media that imagine different figures of youth. They teach diverse audiences unique ideas about young people. Exploring these propositions, Youth, Arts, and Education employs

a liberal definition of “art” that brings images and texts from popular culture into stories from the field. The rationale behind this is my belief that we must develop critical awareness of the ways arts are used by youth, and by adults, to make “youth” in everyday life. This can, too often, include being a tool for governing, or “helping,” young people who are in need of social resources. The arts are not technologies for social control; they are methods through which young people become themselves and can express opinion and critique through style. They create new scapes and senses: new ways of knowing and being. Both in and out of school, arts can be used as everyday ways of belonging to a community. Public art projects can confront and change community sentiment about particular demographics of young people.