Ann Young is a new member of Soho20– she joined only last year. Her art works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in cultural centers and galleries, including the Fleming Museum in Burlington, VT; the Alliance for the Visual Arts Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, NH; Furchgott-Sourtiffe Gallery in Shelburne, VT; the White Water Gallery in East Hardwick, VT; and Woodsum Gallery in Warner, NH. She received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Because I was unable to visit Ann’s studio in Vermont, we conducted the interview through email.
Ann Young’s first show at Soho20, In a Dangerous Time, will run from October 1st through 26th, with an October 3rd.
1) Tell me about what you’re working on now.
For my show in October, “In A Dangerous Time”, I have been working on a series of oil paintings that deal with some of the perils of our time. In particular, those faced by the next generation. In them, children face rising seas, war and unidentified terrors. But I don’t think that there is only gloom and doom in their future. The very presence of children in some of the paintings offers hope. Also, I have completed a large collection of 6″x6″ paintings that are inspired by decaying leaves. I call it the Resurrection Series. I feel that these connect to the other works because of the new life that springs from the accumulated detritus of the past. Size matters to me. Some of my works are 4 by 5 feet. Others measure 6″x6″ but there are a lot of them. But actually, all of that is done and ready to hang. Now I have started a new series featuring Persephone in the Underworld.
2) Can you describe your studio practice?
I am fortunate to have a studio at my house, so I am able to work when it is convenient to me. I mix my painting hours with everything else that I do. I might work an hour one day and eight the next. I work erratically but steadily. I usually have five or more different pieces in progress at any given time and they are likely to be totally unrelated to each other – people at subway stops one hour – rotting leaves the next.
3) How do you participate in your artist community?
I had no answer to this question at first. I live in a pretty isolated spot in northern Vermont and I don’t even feel that there is much of an art community here. But I have found a couple of groups of dedicated artists who meet on a regular basis. One group gets together every week in Montpelier, hires a model and we all paint that model. It is a practice session where I learn something new every time I go. The other one is a group of women who have been meeting once a month in some way or other to support each other for more than twenty years. I have been a member for more than twelve. We visit each other’s studios, look at each other’s work, eat, talk about art and everything else. These two groups have meant everything to me for keeping me going as an artist. They are my antidote for working in artistic isolation. I don’t think I would have kept going without them.
4) Why did you decide to join an artist-run organization like Soho20?
Kathy Stark talked me into it. She is a long time member of Soho20 and urged me for years to apply and I finally did and was accepted last year. As a new member, this will be my first show there. My main hope is that membership will help to jolt me out of the isolation that I work in. So far, it seems to be working.
5) What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career as an artist?
I would say that the most important thing is to start right now and to not quit. Beyond that, I think an artist starting out is better off not to try to rely on art for income. One can be easily caught in a trap of trying to produce what sells, which might lead the artist far away from her own vision and from the work that she needs to do for herself. This happened to me and kept me from doing the work I wanted to for decades. Better to have a day job and be an artist part time than to be a full time artist trying to please public buying tastes.
6) Name three artists who have had an influence on your work.
This is tough. I don’t pay nearly enough attention to contemporary art. I tend to like the old stuff. I am mad about Vermeer, Cezanne, and Rembrandt. I know what their paintings are about and I can’t help but admire the masters. On the other hand, it is impossible not to be influenced by everything I see, be it “works of art” or anything else that I encounter in life.
Find Ann at her website (annyoungart.com) and blog (http://annyoungart.blogspot.com/).