When we talk about #goals on social media, it’s usually with the implicit assumption that we will never actually achieve those goals. Staging a dynastic coup à la Angela Kardashian? Goals. Pieing homophobic mouthpieces like Anita Bryant in the face? Goals. They’re aspirational, not attainable—which makes this young artist’s story so incredible.
Cliffanie Forrester is a painter and 18-year-old senior at the High School of Art and Design in New York City. One of her works, Uganda, is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of an exhibition of student work titled P.S. Art 2016: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of NYC Kids. The exhibition opened yesterday, June 14, and will run until October 23.
“GUESS WHO JUST COMPLETED THEIR LIFE GOAL AT AGE 18?” Forrester wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. “ME. AS OF 6/14/16 MY PIECE IS IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.”
In fewer than 24 hours, that tweet racked up over 12 thousand retweets and over 27 thousand likes, exposing Forrester’s oil-on-canvas painting to an exponentially larger—and probably younger—audience than it would have by simply being hung on display at the Met in that timeframe. Is Twitter the new museum? I don’t know, maybe???? But feel free to grab that hottest of takes as I have aaaabsolutely no interest in pursuing it.
“This piece was inspired by a missionary trip I took last summer,” Forrester said in a statement on the Met’s website. “When I was creating Uganda I struggled to re-create the color scheme and contrasts from my references. I fused the background with the foreground in cool tones so that references I used appear seamless in the painting. I was pleased with the results. I am appreciative of the skills I thought I never had.”
“The narrative of this portrait symbolizes innocence and hope,” Forrester’s High School of Art and Design teacher Maria Jimenez says in a statement on the Met’s website. “Cliffannie wanted her subject to touch viewers, and make them consider that black lives matter and that little girls matter, in any part of the world. Cliffannie’s powerful message was captured in this compelling composition and because of it, we are all transformed.”
P.S. Art is a collaborative exhibition between the New York City Department of Education, Studio in a School, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 89 works at this year’s exhibition were created by 90 New York City public school students from all five boroughs, ranging in age from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.
“Some of the responses from [the young artists selected for P.S. Art] have been like this young lady’s,” Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Met’s Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education, told me. “‘Oh, my god! I never thought I’d have a work of art in the Met!’… I think they feel honored to celebrate their own voices in this space. They’re walking up to people saying, ‘Can I show you my work of art?’ They’re being acknowledged for their hard work, their perseverance, their grit, and also their creativity… [They’re being honored for] having their own voice.”
I have reached out to both Cliffanie Forrester and her teacher, Maria Jimenez, for comment. I will update the story if I hear back. #goals
UPDATE: Goals, achieved. Read Fusion’s Q&A with Cliffanie Forrester.