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What makes art good in the eyes of a teenager?

According to the reviews collected by the culture education program Art Testers young people appreciate art that is fun, skillful, and ingenious. They like it when it rolls like drums and arouses feelings of joy and surprisingly, confusement. A good experience of art – according to the 14-year-old art testers – is interesting, successful, and “top-of-the-line”.

These are the kinds of qualifiers that have been connected to the 10 best rated experiences in the history of Art Testers. The findings are based on an analysis of 150 000 reviews given by the young art testers during the first five academic years of the program (2017-2022). Data from the ongoing academic year is not included in the analysis.

The adjectives and other attributes associated with the best rated experiences of the Art Testers program make it easy to see what kind of art young people like, or what kind of art they are used to consuming. However, while analyzing the review data, it is good to note that the art literacy level of teenagers varies significantly. Many of them come to experience art in order to enjoy themselves. Other reactions evoked by the experience may be interpreted somewhat negatively. This is why it might be that the most popular works of art among young people are the ones equipped with cute, light attributes like funniness and delight.

Many young people are used to the unsubtle and uncomplicated entertainment produced by Hollywood that sells good feelings, relaxation and contentment. They don’t necessarily understand that this might not be – even though it sometimes can be – the point of a work of art, like a theater piece, a dance performance or an art exhibition, presented to them in the Art Testers program.

Art, including the works of art selected to Art Testers program, addresses diverse topics, often bringing to light and taking a stand on difficult issues like mental health problems, discrimination, war, or the climate crisis. In these cases the experience might not be entertaining – instead, it might evoke many different kinds of feelings. 

This is why all Art Tester visits include pedagogical pre- and post-visit materials produced by the art institution. This material is intended to help process the thoughts and feelings evoked by the experience. Completing the pre-work is especially important so that the potentially challenging topic or format of the art visit does not come as a surprise for the young art critics. During the post-visit work potential concerns and conflicts can be discussed in a safe environment.

You can explore the reviews by the art testers on the website of the program. They can be filtered based on the class or the work of art. Don’t forget to follow their social media channels! For instance, this year their Christmas calendar highlights beautiful art experiences from different parts of Finland that stand out in the reviews. The last three doors of the calendar reveal the TOP 3 experiences of the last academic year based on the ratings of the young art testers!

Writers: Communications Planner Heidi Rantanen & Coordinator Tuula Penttilä

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