A chandelier of empty prescription bottles hangs in the middle of a large white room in the Rogue Gallery of the West Chelsea building in New York. As people look up at the sunshine hues emanating from above them, they attempt to make out the prescriptions on the labels as a voice of a young man can slowly be heard, further illuminating the piece.

“I see myself as a visionary. I want to gather people around me — [people such as] a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, a biologist, an industrial designer — and have a wide spectrum of knowledge flowing, where we can put my ideas into products” Grant Goldner, the creator of the piece, croons.

“In essence, you’re striving toward an engineering, artistic think-tank? I ask.

“Exactly,” he answers.

At a ripening young age of 18, Goldner is entering the artistic world with a bang. Speaking about his work, the New York based artist explains that he felt the need to make the Pharmalier because “there is an over-proliferation of pharmaceutical use in our society and nobody questions the long term effects, just as no one questions the long term effects of using electricity.” He looks above him as he continues chit chatting with guests and confirms heartily, “This is a visual statement.”

Pushing the light amber curls out of his face and adjusting his glasses, Goldner stands below his artwork, avidly criticizing using pharmaceuticals for illnesses that are otherwise curable. Inspired by nature, or as he phrases it, “emulating nature’s genius into modern technology,” he attempts to bring about people’s most natural responses with his art.

“I want them to question pharmaceutical use just as they question the pill’s existence,” he states. Inspired by the entrepreneurial Steve Jobs and Charles Eames, a chair designer who Goldner considers one of the most prolific of the 1950s, he is living by the philosophy that “you never confine yourself to one medium, one activity, or one profession.” In synchronized unison to his philosophical approach, he is researching biomechanical engineering and pursuing his passion for art. Influenced by tai-chi, meditation, and studying in British Columbia, which he recounts has been the most affecting experience of his young life, innovation and change are his mantras.

Goldner is one of the many young artists between the ages of 12 to 19 whose artwork was displayed during the one-day exhibit on March 29th in Chelsea, thanks to the Teen Art Gallery (T.A.G.), founded by Audrey Banks, age 17, in 2010 as an organization devoted to showcasing art by teens and for teens around the New York City area. Banks had the idea for it when she was in the ninth grade herself. Feeling that teens were unable to enter the art world due to the unknown terrain as well as the age restrictions created for many shows, she decided to create opportunities for those who she knew had the talent, the desire, and the passion to succeed. What started out as a local organization in the Big Apple, where artists would be recruited by word of mouth or the next best thing — social media, quickly went global, and T.A.G. can now proudly call itself an international organization.

According to Banks, it would have been much harder for T.A.G. to come into existence without the help from Facebook, the press coverage of The New York Times, and also the way her parents raised her, but she believes, it still could have been accomplished. How did Banks go about it? The answer is as simple as her methodology — organization. She and her fellow young artists knew at least one student in each high school in New York and they had asked them to give out flyers, in addition to sending out Facebook invitations to those they knew. Before they knew it, people were sending in images of their work, creating a domino effect which would result in an infinite number of submissions that would form the organization as well as their first show on July 2011.

With a mother who is a writer, a father whose occupation is tile work, and a grandmother who is an artist, Banks has a confluence of artistic energy behind her. She is inspired by “anyone who takes initiative,” from her parents to the artwork and philosophy of Francis Bacon and Michelangelo (it is the detail and the emotion of their work and accurate forms that inspire her). Presently, Banks feels a strong affinity to Franz Kafka. She sees both his and her work as abstract. When asked if she is trying to make a specific point with her art, Banks casually shakes her head, preferring to classify it as vague and apolitical instead. She wants to wait a few years before her artwork starts to take on any particular message.

Unabashed, when asked how she realized her dreams of starting T.A.G., Banks laughs and says, “By being a brat!” At 14, Banks already felt comfortable enough to show her artwork to the public. She did not want to wait to complete college. She did not want to wait to go to graduate school. She felt she was already an artist. Her upbringing was one in which her parents stressed that her successes and her failures were her own. She was her sole judge, not they, so she’d striven to make herself proud first and did not have a fear of failing.

As such, Banks is now looking hopefully to the future. With the first generation of T.A.G. moving on, graduating in every sense of the word, the organization is focusing its efforts on passing the work it has done on to the right people, those who are passionate and dedicated enough to keep it going, fostering its successes even further. Banks foresees “a super group of very active teenagers” leading T.A.G. into its future. Her advice to young artists is simple, “You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to blame everything on your environment.” As someone who’s overcome many obstacles herself — along with an array of accomplishments inclusive of an appearance on Project Runway last August as a featured artist as well as maintaining a position as one of the four  judges on the Young Artist’s for St. Jude Art Advisory board — that is sound advice.

Like Banks, the young artists she works with are mature and wise far beyond their years. As Isabelle Wheeler stands beside her work, a life-size bronze sculpture of a nude female figure emerging from what appears to be a pool of water with two arms holding it, or giving birth to it in a sense, it’s hard to believe such a sensual piece was created by a 17-year-old. Yet the artists of T.A.G. are no ordinary teenagers.

A self-described nomad, Wheeler was born in New Hampshire, moved to Maryland, was transplanted to Paris for four years at age 7, and then proceeded to backpack with her parents around the world starting with Haiti and then traveling to New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, South Africa, Namibia, Egypt, and ending in Greece. Her travels have inspired her and she can’t imagine being anything but an artist.

“Everyone is an artist, they just don’t have the right tools,” she stresses.

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