By: Lindsay Covington, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Seraphin Gallery is excited to announce three new installations by Millicent Young. Young has also recently completed a series entitled Cantos for the Anthropocene, along with a poignant short film explaining the ideas behind her pieces and her artistic process.
Her first installation piece, “Cinnamon Vessel”, is made from wood and horsehair. It hangs so that the delicate strands of hair attached to string float in wisps above those passing below. As Young emphasizes in her video, the hair engages in a kind of dance with light and the viewer, revealing its different shades depending on the point of observation. The artist seeks to create unique shapes in her sculptures, weaving together a new kind of visual discourse that taps into the well of beauty and mystery characteristic of our existence. As Young puts it, “My intention was to make forms that I did not know: ones that I had not made before and that had no pre-existing narrative.” She bases many of her works on the Buddhist Koan -- a paradoxical question or anecdote -- using the art-making process itself and interaction with the materials as a time to contemplate the meaning behind the forms she molds.
Her other two installations, “Continuum” and “Garment” come from her Known Not Known series, featuring sculptures of horsehair linked to grapevines. During the making of these pieces, Young was struggling with the passing of her father, whose “journey from the Known into the Not Known” inspired her work. The viewer gets a sense of this flow from one state to another, the crossing of a liminal boundary, when looking at the sculptures. The lack of pretension of the materials, their mixture of delicacy and strength, and the movement of their sinuous shapes evoke a peaceful sensation that can be appreciated regardless of one’s background. No explanation or knowledge of art is needed; to take in Young’s sculpture is as effortless and satisfying as taking a long, deep breath. In the words of artist Gerald Ross, “She chooses her materials carefully and specifically to saturate her work not with grandiosity or pointed societal commentary but instead with innately understood natural and human truths.” To look at Young’s sculptures is both an introspective experience and one that encourages the viewer to contemplate his or her role in the wider scope of nature and humanity.
Young’s latest project, Remembering Awe, is a short film in which she guides an interviewer through her most recent works. In her installation space, Young displays pieces completed in a variety of media, ranging from horsehair sculpture to ink on washi paper and tea bags dug out of plaster. The art featured in this video comes from her series Cantos for the Anthropocene, and it expands upon the themes present in her sculptures installed at Seraphin. It connects Young’s own experiences to those felt by people across the world, as the title suggests. Part of the beauty of her work is its conceptual evolution through the process of its production. Young states in the video that “what I did not intend to work with when I began it was my own memories and experiences of violence. And loss.” This improvisation and transformation characterizes not only her art, but also the human condition in general, making her creations accessible to all. For her, the works hope to invite the viewer to remember the feeling of awe, of being overwhelmed by the grace and understated beauty of the natural world.
For more information on Millicent Young, please visit our artist page for her here.