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 Jennifer Ellen Young  (1967 - )

About: Jennifer Ellen Young


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Lived/Active: Virginia      Known for: Landscape, still life, figurative painting

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Jennifer Ellen Young
An example of work by Jennifer Ellen Young
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from the artist, whose web site is:

My earliest recollection of an interest in art-making dates back to my Crayola days in first grade. For some reason, our teacher never really taught us to read, and we spent our days copying down the alphabet pasted like a frieze along the top of the classroom wall, and illustrating our alphabet with different characters ( a- apple, b- boat, etc.) This didn't make my 2nd grade teacher very thrilled, as she ended up teaching first and 2nd grade together, but I had a fine time drawing. I drew all along through grade school and high school and knew I wanted to continue on with it in college some day.

I knew nothing about art history at all, but at age nineteen, I had the opportunity to go to Europe for three weeks with my older sister, and I had my first exposure to the western tradition's great legacy of painting. I spent several days in Florence at the Uffizzi and in the churches there, and marveled over so many masters-- Botticelli, Massaccio, and, my favorite, Piero Della Francesca, to name but a few. I responded to those works because they hit me at a very emotional level. My travels in Europe and especially Italy were a dream, and I eventually returned twice to study while in college, and once again with my husband Dave.

When I did eventually go to college, I enrolled in studio classes and art history, and loved it. Foundation classes at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) were pretty rigorous and included intensive drawing sessions. But by the time I got into the Painting department, drawing was largely de-emphasized. Huge abstract expressionist paintings were championed by most of my instructors. Figuration definitely was not favored then, and, while I still held fast with the figure, I worked hard not to make my work "too pretty". What I know now is that there is a big difference between painting a pretty picture and making a beautiful painting, regardless of the subject matter.

Towards the end of my studies at VCU, my paintings, while still figurative, were much most closely related to German expressionists ( lots of angst) . I'd managed to placate some of the stronger criticisms against my figurative paintings and express myself in a manner that I felt a strong affinity for, but even those works after a while began to feel rather cliché by the time I graduated. While I came away from school with a sense that I did learn a great deal, I felt as though I still hadn't found my voice in my paintings. My paintings looked more or less like the other students' ; in -your -face-- dark, scary, angry. Other emotional complexities would wait to be expressed after I left school and had been painting on my own for a few years.

One last comment about my instructors-- while I learned a lot from all of my instructors, I had one in particular who was incredibly supportive. He was a painter and (at that time) a part-time instructor who I studied under for at least a couple of semesters. His interest was not in creating clones of himself, but of championing artists as individuals. He looked at what you were trying to do, and pushed you further. He would at times walk into class with stacks of books and slides, and pull aside students to show them variations on a theme that they might be working on. It was in that class that I was introduced to Alice Neel, Grace Hartigan, Balthus, Lucien Freud, Eric Fischl, David Hockney, and the Bay area figurative painters like Diebenkorn, David Park, Joan Brown. He fired you up instead of knocking you down. Wonderful.

My florals, I am sorry to say, do not attest to my skills as a gardener. I wish! For me they are pure joy. They celebrate one of the gifts of the phenomenal world. They also represent to me a connection to the earth, and I find often now that flowers and plants creep into my figurative compositions as well. Outside of that, they are beautiful and I am drawn to paint them as objects of lively color and elegant form. I paint from life but my compositions and arrangements are constructed from my head, so a good deal of imagination goes into the florals as well.

Many people have commented to me that my paintings seem somewhat mystical in nature, and, yes, mysticism does does play a role in my creative process, as do mythology and psychology. I don't know that I can site one source for my interest, other than the well-spring of curiosity that most people entertain for the indestructible questions (what is reality? the meaning of life? the soul?). I don't think of my work as particularly "religious", although I am interested in world religions to the extent that they can express certain universal truths. Therefore I may reference symbols from Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and others, or even symbols of the Native Americans.

Reading also plays a large part in my artistic inspiration. Joseph Campbell (The Hero With a Thousand Faces). Carl Jung is also quite influential (Man and His Symbols, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Memories, Dreams, & Reflections), to name a few. The Sufi poet Rumi is also a favorite read.

Aside from all of these "lofty" ponderings, I live a pretty ordinary life. I am happily married to the extraordinary Dave Webb, and together we have 3 cats who let us stay in their house. My studio resides in a little out-building separate from the house in the back yard, nestled under a canopy of trees.

May 5 - 31, 2001 - Solo exhibition at the Eastern Shore Art Center, Fairhope, AL

November 1 - 30, 2000 - Solo exhibition at Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, IN

March 29 - May 19, 2000: Group exhibition, "New Works by Sigrid Burton, Rosenfeld, and Jennifer Young", Hofstra Museum, Hempstead, NY

March 29 - May 30, 1999: Juried exhibition, " Virginia Artists '99," Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts, Fredericksburg, VA

July 17 - August 31, 1998: Solo exhibit - Gallery of Contemporary Art, Corporate & Museum Frame, Richmond, VA

July 3 - July 31, 1998: Group Invitational, "The City Within," Art Space, Richmond, VA

June 9 - August 5, 1998: Solo exhibit - Fine Art Framing/The Gallery Space, Richmond, VA

April - May, 1998: 'BYTES OF ART' INTERACTIVE EXHIBIT , Center for Visual Art, Oakland, CA

January 15 - February 23, 1998: Solo exhibit at Riverfront Towers Gallery Space, Richmond, VA

December, 1997: Juried exhibition, Shockoe Bottom Arts Center, Richmond, Virginia

June, 1997: Juried exhibiton, Shockoe Bottom Arts Center, Richmond, Virginia

May, 1997: Juried exhibition, Shockoe Bottom Arts Center, Richmond, Virginia.

March, 1997: Solo show at the Westwood Club Gallery, Richmond, Virginia.

February, 1997: Women's Caucus for Art Group Show at the James Center, Richmond, Virginia.

February, 1997: Juried exhibition, Sarah D. November Gallery, Richmond, Virginia.

1996-1999: Ongoing group exhibitions at Main Street Grill, Richmond, Virginia.

May, July, September 1995: Juried exhibitions, Shockoe Bottom Arts Center

April, 1993: Annual juried exhibition, Anderson Gallery

January/February, 1999, The Other Side

March, 1998: Featured in the 10th issue of SABINE MAGAZINE

1997: Juror's Choice Award, SBAC exhibition.

1997: First Prize, Sarah D. November Gallery juried exhibition.

1993: Award Winner, Anderson Gallery annual juried exhibition.

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