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Stateside Podcast: Making a Mark Through 40 Years of Art

Elizabeth Youngblood, Arc Study, 2024
Elizabeth Youngblood
Courtesy of Stamps Gallery, University of Michigan
Elizabeth Youngblood, Arc Study, 2024

When Elizabeth Youngblood considers the processes of her work, she tends toward currents and revisions. The former, both in terms of visual cues and the operation of the art, looks a little different at each iteration.

Those versions, iterations, and processes are on full display at Youngblood's new solo exhibit titled "Syntax," which is on view now through August 3 at the University of Michigan's Stamps Gallery. Process, however, is just one theme of the exhibit that also highlights Youngblood's range and ability with mixed materials, found objects, textures, space, and transformation.

Filled with meaning and metaphor, "Syntax" is the construction of an artist's language, from early utterances to fully mature texts, all represented through shifting material media across more than 30 pieces spanning decades of work.

With so much to discover in Youngblood's exhibit, it would be reductive to call the gallery walk a narrative, but it is, as Youngblood stated, a kind of inquiry.

"There are several pieces in this show that are investigations," she said.

To that end, "Syntax" is an opportunity to analyze art with an eye to each line — or each "word" — and its repetitions and revisions.

"Just like problems get solved little by little, you change as a person, little by little, you kind of morph and you mature and [create] new ideas. The problem you've been trying to solve yesterday, all of a sudden, you've got a solution today. ... We're different every day: hence the interest in repetition."

Born in Detroit and educated in Southeast Michigan, Elizabeth Youngblood maintains a studio in her home city where she is still experimenting with new ways to communicate her process of becoming.

Hear the full conversation with Elizabeth Youngblood above.

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Aaron Bush is a production assistant with Stateside and a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan's joint program in English and Education.
April Van Buren is a producer for Stateside. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.