By Chris Allison
Brookhaven College School of the Arts hosted a reception for nationally recognized artist Judy Youngblood on Feb.14.
Youngblood’s work is displayed at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Smithsonian, and in collections owned by Texas Instruments and Exxon.
She is professor emeritus of art at the University of North Texas and received help from the Fulbright Scholar Program to study at a prestigious art academy, Atelier 17 in Paris.
The artist’s name hung high above the gallery floor and was surrounded by stylized imagery representing snow. A large, unframed piece done in charcoal, pencil and acrylic hung on the wall opposite the door. The remaining walls held another 13 framed pieces of her printmaking and mixed media work.
Small groups of students and admirers trickled into the cozy Studio Gallery after fighting the evening traffic. Within the hour, the intimate space echoed with voices of the growing crowd as Youngblood offered details about her work and her creative process. She explained her inspiration for using imagery related to water and the weather to demonstrate the passage of time and change. Her mixed media work has “lots of layers of meaning and exploration,” she said.
Youngblood’s work featured a depth achieved by layering several prints. Each layer contained different colors and elements, which were then further enhanced with paint, charcoal or collage techniques. The result was a subtle dimensional effect, difficult to achieve on a flat piece of paper.
Pieces titled “Splish,” “Drip” and “Splash” featured bold colors and frequent repetition of drops of water for emphasis. Youngblood explained her use of the same images with slight changes in appearance or color as part of her process of experimentation. Her printmaking techniques allow for continuous combining, recombining and changing of images as she works. “I don’t have to be careful, because I can always change it,” she said.
Youngblood said her work was not always planned out in advance, but pointed out the freedom she had by avoiding a focus on the outcome. “It evolves, but not really quickly,” she said about her art.
Brookhaven art student Jim Tompkins said, “She was my adviser when I went to North Texas 15 years ago and she was using some of these images back then.” Youngblood’s use of similar imagery over the years has not seemed to diminish the quality of her work. Gallery visitors proved the reality to be quite the opposite. Smiles frequently appeared on the faces of those obviously familiar with her work.
Perhaps the greatest nod to her talent was the number of fellow artists, art dealers and art instructors in attendance, despite the fact that her reception was held on a holiday. Brookhaven students and staff from the neighboring art building’s evening classes quickly spread the word.