Drawing from personal and collective narratives, Brenna Youngblood creates collages and hybrid sculptures that explore the politics and ethics of representation, abstraction, and Black American experiences.Read More
Brenna Youngblood studied photography at California State University and the University of California, Los Angeles in the early 2000s, after which she began to incorporate photographs from her personal archive into collages.
The artist's first museum exhibition, Hammer Projects: Brenna Youngblood, held at Los Angeles's Hammer Museum in 2006, featured collage works in which photographic records of everyday life are deconstructed and reassembled into bold compositions. Pieces of a white vehicle and other shapes make up a long train in Foreva (2005), which tumbles across an amorphous body of darkness that is in stark contrast to the chaotic fragments of black and gold and specks of colour that pattern the background. In The Subtle Shift Between Then and Now, another work from 2005, collaged rows of theatre seats are packed into dense clusters across the picture surface.
Made using paint, photographic images, and found materials, Brenna Youngblood's hybrid sculptures have drawn comparisons with Robert Rauschenberg's 'combine' paintings as well as the work of 1960s and 70s West Coast assemblage artists, Betye Saar and John Outterbridge. Characteristic of her practice, the layering and juxtaposition of disparate elements can be seen in works such as Master P (2012), a mixed-media sculpture featuring what Tessa Moldan describes as 'explosive planes' in Ocula Magazine.
Central to Youngblood's creations is an exploration of the seemingly innocuous nature of ordinary objects. Map of the World (2015) is a collage that consists of painted and pasted surfaces in various shades of blue, and is entirely abstract save for a fragment of an antiquated world map in its upper left quadrant. Referring to former colonial territories, the map serves as a reminder that it is not a neutral reflection of the world but rather a product of social and political interests.
In the LIGHT and the DARK (2021), her first solo exhibition with Roberts Projects, Brenna Youngblood addressed the global phenomena of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial inequality. INCARCERATION (2020), consisting of a striped sweater collaged onto an otherwise smooth, white canvas fading into black at its bottom right corner, is a poignant yet powerful reference to the erasure and violence Black Americans encounter in daily life.
Selected solo exhibitions include Lavender Rainbow, Riverside Art Museum, California (2020); The Game of Life, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Brussels (2017); WHAT A FEELING, Honor Fraser, Los Angeles (2016); abstracted realities, Seattle Art Museum (2015); Loss Prevention, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2014); and WHEN-WIN, Tilton Gallery, New York (2010).
Brenna Youngblood has also exhibited her work in group presentations including High Emission Zone, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris (2021); Sonic Rebellion: Music As Resistance, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2017); In the Abstract, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) (2017); Man Alive, Jablonka Maruani Mercier, Brussels (2017); L.A. Exuberance: New Gifts by Artists, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2016); and Surface of Color, The Pit, Los Angeles (2015).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021
'Shakin' up power! Wakin' up power! Stirrin' up power! Troublin' power! Yes, Lord, power! Send power!' sings Sister Gertrude Morgan, a self-taught African American artist, musician and preacher in her song Power, released in 1970. Featuring only her voice and a tambourine, it is essentially a mantra, one which lends its title to a group show of...