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Artist Millicent Young

Millicent Young

Stone Ridge, NY, USA


American, b. 1958   —   Millicent Young's current solo exhibition In the Silence Between, is on view in the new Studio Building Gallery at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, NY through October 31, 2022. The eleven wall mounted works included in the exhibition are visual poems on unknowing, liminality, and healing. Created between 2017 and 2021, the "artworks, an amalgam of resonant materials nearly Shaker-like in their austerity and beauty, owe their spiritual reach to the horsehair and muted metal she makes use of." writes JONATHAN GOODMAN. In conjunction with the indoor exhibition is Young's outdoor multimedia installation Remains - a site, an homage, and a poem to the collapsing biosphere. In it, Young incorporates the poetry of Jane Hirshfield on glass panes as well as in a layered audio track, motion activated and powered by a mini solar panel. The works in both the indoor and outdoor exhibitions are featured on this platform. Young is a full time studio artist focusing on sculpture, installation, and inter-media collaborations involving sculpture, sound, poetry, and movement. She received her MFA in 1997 (James Madison University) and received Professional Artist Fellowships from Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1999 and 2014. Since 1995, her work has received numerous awards from curators affiliated with the National Gallery/Smithsonian, Hirshhorn, Dia, New, Guggenheim, and Whitney Museums in juried exhibitions. It received a top award at the Biennale in Florence Italy (2005). Her work is included in the National Museum of Women in the Arts collection. Young’s work was featured on the cover of Sculpture Magazine (March/April 2020). She was selected for the Distinguished Alumni Award in Art 2021-2022 by the School of Art, Design, and Art History at James Madison University. What it is to be human in a larger than human world has been the focus of my work for 28 years. Fragility, endurance, loss, awe, and paradox: these are portals to transformation individually and collectively expressed. They are central to the content, form, and context of my work. My practice is informed by spiritual ecology, cultural practices of transformation and healing, and the essentiality of inter being. Art is a liminal space. Focusing on subjects such as extinction, habitat collapse, and the atrocities of war, my work challenges what divides us: within our own being, human from human, human from other than human, culture from nature. Neither beauty nor brutality exists in isolation. The boundaries that define victim and perpetrator or predator and prey are movable. To witness grace and violence is to face the irreconcilable. The artist and the viewer as witness become permeable; to be changed is to create change. The materials I use are both substance and symbol. They are ordinary and often provided by my place: deadfall trees, vines, barbed wire, waste lumber from sawmills, architectural steel and window frames from derelict buildings. Other materials include: hair, fur, clay, glass, plaster, lead, ink, raw pigments. They both contain memories and record new memories through touch, erosion, evaporation, fire, and other processes of construction and reduction. The materials record and collapse time. I make all my pieces by hand with simple tools and methods I have developed over years. Some processes are highly repetitive, the form emerging through accretion. Others involve a single irreversible action; from many attempts only one is right. All labor is a powerful ritual, a physical engagement with the unknown and the record of labor itself becomes content. For the past five years my practice of making sculpture has grown to include working in installation, in iterations, and in multidisciplinary intermedia projects. In these projects, I integrate sound, poetry, and movement with the sculptural installation to create a layered sensorial experience.

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