Painter Ann Young works in many styles, always with plenty of color, and focuses on people in troubling times and on abstracted images of greatly magnified natural objects. Young’s latest exhibition “In a Dangerous Time” explores the role of art in difficult times with paintings about the intersection of helplessness and hopefulness. “In a Dangerous Time” is showing now at Catamount Arts, in St. Johnsbury, VT. A wine and cheese reception will take place Friday, September 30th, at the Catamount Arts Fried Family Gallery.
Young was recently commissioned privately to paint three pieces concerning Sahrawi human rights defender Sultana Khayya. Khayya’s native home of Western Sahara is the last active colony in Africa controlled by the US-backed Moroccan military. A committed nonviolent activist, Khayya is a prominent leader in her community of indigenous women resisting the ongoing assault on her people and the plundering of her home’s natural resources, including phosphorous and fish, which are sold to sustain industrial food systems worldwide.
“In a Dangerous Time” includes the commissioned pieces, as well as several other pieces examining the ways people respond to challenging circumstances ranging from heated arguments among contemporaries to the destruction of entire cities due to war. Young’s paintings have a distinctly global perspective, featuring children, soldiers, migrants, even a nod to Millet’s “Gleaners,” in landscapes of floodwaters, smoke, garbage, and rolling hillsides starred and striped in red, white, and blue.
“Human beings have always been living in a dangerous time,” Young says, “but perhaps it seems worse because…our time right now… has not yet receded into the history books.” Young’s paintings, she says, are created in response to feelings of grim despair and strong hope she feels when looking at the world beyond her “own little sphere.”
“Young has a mastery of her medium—oil—,” writes Pamela Polston in her Seven Days review of “Fellow Travelers,” Young’s 2019 solo show, “and the additional skill of mixing mystery and metaphor into her paint.” Indeed, Young’s work often includes richly detailed portrayals of characters—an old woman, a family running while holding hands, a line of people carrying housewares on their backs—reacting to or moving toward something beyond the scope of the canvas. The viewer doesn’t know what prompted the startled look, the hurried flight, the mass migration, but its effect on the paintings’ subjects is immediate and unambiguous.
Ann Young earned a BFA at Rhode Island School of Design and has exhibited extensively in both solo and group shows throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York for 20 years. Her exhibition “In a Dangerous Time” is showing in Catamount’s Fried Family Gallery now through October 30th.