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All images and text © Laura Young: 2023. All rights reserved.
I am an artist and a teacher. I was educated at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (BA), Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ (MA), and Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (MFA).
As a painter, I am particularly interested in the metaphorical aspects of light and how the amount of light in a picture affects our mood and reaction. I live in a small contemporary house in the woods in Iowa City, IA. A studio is a few yards from my house where I work. I see the early morning light filtering through the trees each day, the light sparkling off the water of a small creek as well as the twilight time when the owls come out to hunt for their prey.
I often think of the work of the 19th century American landscape painter, George Inness, who lived and worked in Montclair, NJ where I lived for many years when my children were growing up. His dark fields and forests with a minimal, yet powerful light leaking through the trees and brush somewhere in the middle ground creates a yearning for something beyond the horizon, something intangible. The light pulls one forward. I think of the powerful series called “Wall of Light” by the contemporary Irish artist Sean Scully, examples of which can be found in museums all over the world. These two artists among many others have been inspirations to me.
In my own work, I did a series of oil paintings on paper that I called “Illuminations” (2009-2010) wherein abstracted still life objects project light as energy. Some responses to these paintings made reference to the alchemical experiments that went on in the Middle Ages. Another person commented on the experiments of Madam Curie. A few others used the word “spiritual” in describing their reaction. These paintings took days to complete, starting with a grounding of geometry underneath the image and gradually adding thinned layers of oil paint to create the effect of light. These were shown in a faculty show at the University of Iowa in 2008.
In September of 2010, my husband of fifteen years died quite suddenly in his sleep. Just a couple of months before, in the early part of the summer, we had spent a delightful vacation on Cape Cod in the town of Brewster. Each day we walked the beach and did some painting. One of the outstanding facts about that area is that when the tide goes out, it goes out as far as the eye can see. So, from the beach one can observe layers of sand and water—a visual abstraction just waiting for the artist’s camera or brush.
Still in shock from my husband’s sudden death, I started to work again in December of 2010 and this time I used very simple materials—charcoal and printmaking paper. Those Cape Cod layers emerged, but this time in blacks and grays with a bit of light leaking through here and there. In January six of these 15”x15” drawings were shown at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, IA. Following these drawings came similar works in pastel. I’ve continued in this vein, working abstractly and often in bands and blocks of color, until the time of this writing.
Some highlights from my career include: awards such as a Pollock Krasner Foundation Fellowship (1994), two Iowa Arts Council Grants (1997 and 2001), a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship (1985) and residency fellowships including Yaddo (1995), TheTyrone Guthrie Centre (2006), and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (multiple residencies).
I have shown my work in museums, commercial galleries, juried and group shows, as well as internationally in Denmark and Nigeria. One person shows took place at The Sioux City Art Center (Sioux City, IA), Monmouth College (Monmouth, IL), The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (Cedar Rapids, IA), Interior Space Design (New York, NY), and The Atlantic Gallery (New York, NY).
In addition to teaching since 1997 at the University of Iowa, I have also taught at Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY, Keane College, Union, NJ, and at The Lincoln Center Institute in New York City, The Museum of Modern Art and at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
My work is represented in private and corporate collections across the country