BY BENJAMIN MANDILE
92Y, a community center located
in the Upper East Side, recognized a
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High
School student for his contributions in
increasing accessibility and inclusivity in
art institutions in the city Monday, March 2.
Naima Ryan, a senior at the Astoria
school, said that he wasn’t aware of
how big of an impact he had made
and that he was shocked to learn he
won an award.
Ryan interned as a youth
ambassador at The Metropolitan
Museum of Art in 2019, when he was
tasked with sharing with the museum
how it could improve its environment
to be more inclusive of a younger
audience and for creating events for
teenagers and improving its educational
In the past, “The Met” and other
institutions have had a problem with
inclusion in terms of racial and economic
biases, according to Ryan.
Ryan said these same feelings of
“exclusivity” continue to be present at
these institutions, especially if someone
doesn’t consider themselves an artist.
Now, these institutions are making
attempts to improve in this regard, he
Ryan will continue his work at the
museum through the returning internship
program which recently formed to allow
interns to come back — something that
the museum did not allow in the past.
12 MARCH 2020 I LIC COURIER I www.qns.com
“I’m really excited,” Ryan said. “I love
He said that the biggest take-away
from his first internship at “The Met”
was that there is room for people like
him. Ryan has been creating art since
he was 4 years old when he started
drawing with his mom at museums in
New York City when she was attending
art school herself.
He finds a lot of his inspiration for his
work through Greek mythology, he said
in an interview. This inspiration comes
from the mythology he learned when
he was younger and his attempts to
connect those stories and their moral
teachings to modern-day politics. It also
comes from the nostalgia he feels around
Greek mythology from when his dad would
tell him old Greek mythology stories and
watching Jim Henson’s Greek mythology
as a kid, he added.
Moving forward, Ryan plans
on pursuing a degree to work as a
graphic designer. He hopes to work
for a company but said he also would
want to branch off and possibly start a
business of his own.
Ryan encouraged any teenager who
is looking to get an internship in art in New
York City to start by visiting museums and
applying for teen leadership roles. He
said that art in the teen community in
the city is prevalent and that many teens
use art to express their daily struggles
and political struggles.
He is currently working on a piece
for the Ron Hubbard scholarship.
Photos by Miria Sabina
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
student recognized for increasing
inclusivity in NYC art institutions
L-R: Ava Lehrer, 92Y Director of Center for Arts Learning & Leadership; Citizen-Artist
Awards winners Marcel Bryan (Staten Island); Naima Ryan, Frank Sinatra High School
Naima Ryan with his mom Jeanine King. (Queens); Javy Polanco (Manhattan); Emerald Lloyd (Bronx).