Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Nancy Youdelman: Dogs Are Forever.
Youdelman’s third solo show at Eight Modern reflects the continued refinement of her unique, highly memorable method and style. Youdelman’s mixed media sculptures and reliefs use vintage clothing as the foundation for sculptures incorporating vintage snapshots, love letters, buttons, pins, and organic elements such as leaves, twigs and flowers. The artist continues to add depth to her already significant legacy as a pioneering feminist artist through her accessible, honest exploration of the personal objects that interconnect touchstone themes like love, mortality and femininity.
Some of the work in Youdelman’s latest exhibition was inspired by a collection of 300 vintage photos the artist bought on eBay in 2007, after receiving a Gottlieb Foundation grant. Tuffy is the [One] I Love–a small dress embedded with multicolored buttons and faded images of a girl and her dog—was inspired by some of these photos: “Taken in the early 1950s, they are of a young girl, Sally (written on the back) and her dog Tuffy. On the back of a photo of her dog, she wrote, “Tuffy is the I love”, forgetting to add the word “one”. So poignant, this really grabbed me. In my mind’s eye, I could see dearly loved dogs from my own childhood. … Tuffy and Dogs Are Forever give homage to all my beloved pets.”
The artist has long been fascinated by anonymous subjects whose letters, pictures and other artifacts inspire her art. In describing her fascination with these relics, Youdelman references a quote from Diane Arbus on photographs: “They are proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you.”
Youdelman is an art lecturer at Fresno State, where in 1970 she was one of the 15 founding students in the nation’s first feminist art program, which was led by Judy Chicago and continues to be recognized as a formative moment in American art history. Thereafter, Youdelman participated in other leading-edge feminist art collectives such as Womanhouse, Double X and The Woman’s Building, through which she honed her skills in “female technologies” such as sewing, fashion and performance.
“Throughout (Youdelman’s work), the cumulative debris of lived experience – buttons, jewelry, photos, letters, dried flowers, among an assortment of other mementos – reflect the contingencies of recollection and desire,” Alex Ross of Visual Art Source writes. “Operating at the intersections between preciousness and potency, beauty and banality, individual experience and cultural memory, Youdelman’s assemblages assert points at which the weathered and degraded emerge as the foundations for a strikingly expressive and continuously singular artistic practice.”
Youdelman studied Theatrical Costume & Make-up, Art and English Literature at Fresno State before earning a B.F.A. from Cal Arts and an M.F.A. from UCLA. She has taught at colleges throughout California, has written for and edited art magazines and books, been a mainstay in the Southern California art scene and even served as artistic consultant for a Rolling Stones concert. She has been honored with numerous awards, including grants from the Pollock-Krasner and Gottlieb Foundations.