September 2, 2020

The Teen Blog is Back with Lydia Donahue’s Power of Eye Contact


There’s something that always gives us the feels, lifts us up, and inspires us. That something is teens and their art, creativity, and overall coolness. A while back, we started a teen blog that featured artwork ranging from photography to painting to poetry to mixed media. We pressed pause for a minute, but now we’re back at it and ready to share work by teens from all over. 

In this feature, we’re sharing the work of Lydia Donahue. In Lydia’s series of photographs, she examines human connection through eye contact. She notes that although eye contact may be taught in the socialization process to the point of berating those who don’t engage in it, the possibilities of holding another’s gaze are great and can offer respite and deep resonance amid feelings of sadness and isolation.

Photo collage of subjects making eye contact with camera


Power of Eye Contact

From a young age society tells us to make eye contact. If we don’t then we are seen as weak. After 18 years of having this drilled into my head, what is the power of direct eye contact? Why is this so important? And what can you learn from a person through eye contact?  Can one image, one person, or one look, convey a person’s journey and emotional state?  When you look someone directly in the eyes, their body produces a chemical called phenylethylamine that may make the person feel various emotions. In my images I wanted to push that to the limits and see how I could convey emotion through the eyes. 

Sadness, isolation, confliction and desolation are such heavy emotions that could be expressed through such a simple action of eye contact.  Humans are complex creatures that have lived through different experiences and have experienced different emotions. It can be difficult to convey these emotions with words. But if through the simple act of making eye contact, these emotions can be shared, then humans may be able to connect on a deeper level.

In a time where many of us are separated and isolated, we hope Lydia’s work and words will encourage you to connect both with yourself and others as we traverse through the current landscape. And if you’re a teen and want to share your art, we’d love for you to submit your work for a chance to be featured on our blog or on the television screen in the Teen Idea Box here at MCA Denver! And don’t forget, teens always get in free! Reserve your tickets for Nari Ward: We the People before it closes on September 20.

MCA Denver teens have officially launched our new project, Moxie Magazine. Check it out here!