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Trials, Triumphs, & Tribulations

As a part of human nature, we crave the approval of others. This originates in our ancestors’ quest for status and social recognition as a pathway to resources and reproduction. Today, these instincts have shifted from matters of survival to social identity. The resultant drive to fit in can be obstacle to adolescent self-acceptance. The objects collected here speak to the quest of carving out a place for oneself in relation to others as a part of growing up.


Adolescence is a time where many embark on a journey to figure out who we are. For some, this is a very private expedition. For others, there is a supportive companion bearing witness to our youthful soul-searching. The objects grouped here each index for their keepers a pathway of self-discovery. Along the way, each identified interests, developed skills, and withstood experiences that helped her to flourish.

Contributions by: Mary Lee, Alice Hall, and Lauren Adams


Fitting in is different than belonging. “Fitting in” implies conformity to expectations. “Belonging” is being accepted for whomever it is that you are. The objects grouped here powerfully symbolize for their keepers an empowering embrace of being accepted for their authentic selves

Contributions by: Robert Cramer, Tom Rivera, and Patricia Adams


As we grow into our own, there sometimes emerges a disjunction between what a parent and a child thinks is best. In such cases, conflict is common. Youthful rebellions are sometimes short-lived – a flirtation with an alternative reality. Other times, non-compliance comes to strain and define the relationship between generations. The objects grouped here each help tell stories of a child disregarding parental guidance while coming into his or her own​

Contributions by: Robert Blackey, Rebecca Trawick, and Eugene Wong

Select stories are available online now. Additional stories will be made available after the exhibition closes in March 2017.