#SAMYSL Erika Massaquoi on X

#SAMYSL Erika Massaquoi on X

Brenna Youngblood, X

Curator and fashion designer Erika Dalya Massaquoi speaks on Brenna Youngblood's X.

Brenna Youngblood, X

Brenna Youngblood, X

LOW/NO VISION

LOW/NO VISION

Transcript

I'm Erika Dalya Massaquoi, a Seattle-based curator and designer.

Today we're speaking about Brenna Youngblood's X, one of my favorite pieces in the museum, Brenna Youngblood, is an artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

When I look at our contemporary moment right now, I see the black body in crisis, I see a great deal of stress, and alienation, and degradation. When you look at this piece, I think it's very much rooted in revising those histories in which African Americans have been written out of, as well as imagining future, joyful, realities for ourselves, in addition to finding a way to find balance in our lives and that's why I love Brenna's work, because I feel that there's balance there. What you see is this sort of void of blackness but within that, I see, more so than a void, I see possibility. And we can look and you see the blackness, you see a void, but there's also within abstract work, because it's not concrete, the possibility for you as a spectator to be involved in it, for you to imagine what's behind that void, particularly with the white of the X going through, for me, that's peace, for me, that's openness

I love Yves. There's this one moment where in Paris, where there was an urban youth uprising, and he was like, down with couture, it's all about youth. But he was really just taking somewhat advantage of a cultural and political moment. I think that as an artist, and what he recognized that it was important to respond to, and to live with your feet firmly planted in the times that you're living in. And I think Brenna was responding to this in her piece.

This particular piece relates to an earlier series in her work where she actually created a wooden X, it was huge; it was like as big as a tree. But she was taking iconic African American subjects So Malcolm X was one, Oprah was another, President Barack Obama, Jay-Z, this ideal of distilling the essence of who they are, into one letter. This is a direct allusion to the work of Malcolm X, these pillars that Malcolm X referred to: love, and compassion, solidarity, justice, and joy.

There's a lot of seriousness in the world to respond to. Particularly for people of African descent, there's so much emotional and physical and psychic strife, that we're responding to, that it's often difficult for me, as a curator or when I'm writing critically about art, to talk about just joy, and happiness and fun.And I think that even when you look at artists' work, the idea that they could be whimsical, or have humor, it always becomes a footnote, it's never the forenote. Looking at Brenna Youngblood's work, I found it to be very thoughtful, political yet whimsical at the same time.

How does the art speak to you? How does it move you, how does it relate to your lived experience?Those are the big questions of the world, we're always trying to figure out who we are and what we want to be.

LOW/NO VISION Transcript

You are listening to a verbal description of the artwork intended for someone with low to no vision. An interpretive analysis will immediately follow. For interpretive analysis of the object, skip to the next track.

X by Brenna Youngblood, created in 2015. Paper and acrylic on canvas. 6 feet tall by 5 feet wide.

This is a black abstract painting featuring several thin white lines.

The background is all black with patches of rippled texture mostly near the center and lower left portions of the painting. There are specks of red, yellow, green and white peeking from below the all-over black paint surface, concentrated in the top middle and scattered throughout.

Straight thin white lines stretch from each corner of the canvas inward toward the center. In the lower left corner, a short dribbled line of white paint parallels the main line originating in that corner. In the top left corner are smears of white paint to the right of the line. This line passes through the center of the canvas where it intersects with the first line from the lower left and continues down to the lower right corner, the paint collecting in several small pools along the way. In the top right corner, two white lines join as they move toward the center of the canvas. The joined line stops just before reaching the center, leaving a gap about the size of your little finger between it and the intersection of the other lines.

Now, an interpretive analysis of this artwork.

I'm Erika Dalya Massaquoi, a Seattle-based curator and designer.

Today we're speaking about Brenna Youngblood's X, one of my favorite pieces in the museum, Brenna Youngblood, is an artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

When I look at our contemporary moment right now, I see the black body in crisis, I see a great deal of stress, and alienation, and degradation. When you look at this piece, I think it's very much rooted in revising those histories in which African Americans have been written out of, as well as imagining future, joyful, realities for ourselves, in addition to finding a way to find balance in our lives and that's why I love Brenna's work, because I feel that there's balance there. What you see is this sort of void of blackness but within that, I see, more so than a void, I see possibility. And we can look and you see the blackness, you see a void, but there's also within abstract work, because it's not concrete, the possibility for you as a spectator to be involved in it, for you to imagine what's behind that void, particularly with the white of the X going through, for me, that's peace, for me, that's openness

I love Yves. There's this one moment where in Paris, where there was an urban youth uprising, and he was like, down with couture, it's all about youth. But he was really just taking somewhat advantage of a cultural and political moment. I think that as an artist, and what he recognized that it was important to respond to, and to live with your feet firmly planted in the times that you're living in. And I think Brenna was responding to this in her piece.

This particular piece relates to an earlier series in her work where she actually created a wooden X, it was huge; it was like as big as a tree. But she was taking iconic African American subjects So Malcolm X was one, Oprah was another, President Barack Obama, Jay-Z, this ideal of distilling the essence of who they are, into one letter. This is a direct allusion to the work of Malcolm X, these pillars that Malcolm X referred to: love, and compassion, solidarity, justice, and joy.

There's a lot of seriousness in the world to respond to. Particularly for people of African descent, there's so much emotional and physical and psychic strife, that we're responding to, that it's often difficult for me, as a curator or when I'm writing critically about art, to talk about just joy, and happiness and fun.And I think that even when you look at artists' work, the idea that they could be whimsical, or have humor, it always becomes a footnote, it's never the forenote. Looking at Brenna Youngblood's work, I found it to be very thoughtful, political yet whimsical at the same time.

How does the art speak to you? How does it move you, how does it relate to your lived experience?Those are the big questions of the world, we're always trying to figure out who we are and what we want to be.