Brenna Youngblood explores the iconography of public and private experiences and issues of identity, ethics, and representation. A prolific artist, she freely experiments with aspects of formalism, materials, and processes as part of her rigorous studio practice. With a background in photomontage, Youngblood builds the surfaces of many paintings simultaneously while assessing the relationships between each object in formation. Humor and satire are intuitively interwoven in the choices she makes about composition, line, form, and content.
Imperfection is especially important to me in creating an abstract foundation that makes the eye travel. I’m not trying to render with paint, but with photograph imagery layered over washy, painted backgrounds.
– Brenna Youngblood
Trained as a photographer, Youngblood’s early work—layered photomontages drawn from her everyday life—incorporated images of her family and friends, storefronts, police cars, and snapshots of domestic objects, such as bare light bulbs, cheap wood veneer paneling, TVs, and aging upholstery. This exhibition features later work addressing the formal qualities of imagery and objects. In her version of abstract—with a nod to conceptualism, figuration, and the real—Youngblood makes painterly work that is mindful of architectural, social, and political cues. She often refers to many of these beautifully rendered works as landscapes.
Brenna Youngblood: Abstracted Realities is organized by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, guest curator of the exhibition and SAM’s former Deputy Director of Education and Public Programs/Adjunct Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Image: Chuck Taylor, 2015, Brenna Youngblood, American, b. 1979, color photograph and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 in. Courtesy of the artist and Honor Fraser Gallery.