Amber Jean Young, born in 1984, stands as a distinguished interdisciplinary artist whose creative prowess resonates in the vibrant landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her artistic journey is a captivating exploration of diverse mediums, delving into themes of place, grief, and resilience. Amber’s unique approach to composition, characterized by vibrant patterns and intricate plant imagery, sets her apart in the realm of contemporary art.
Having earned recognition on a national scale, Amber Jean Young’s work has been prominently displayed in esteemed galleries such as Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto, Eleanor Harwood Gallery, Hashimoto Contemporary, Marrow Gallery in San Francisco, Berkeley Art Center, and more. Her artistry extends beyond gallery walls, finding a place on the covers and inside jackets of albums by renowned musicians like Neil Young and Pegi Young. Notably, Amber is a 2012 Djerassi Resident Artist Program fellow, underscoring her commitment to artistic innovation.
In this article, we delve into the intricate layers of Amber’s artistic evolution, exploring the impact of her childhood, educational pursuits, and the transformative moments that have shaped her distinctive body of work. Additionally, we unravel the poignant narrative behind her exhibition, “Pegi’s Garden,” which serves as both a visual tribute to her late mother, Pegi Young, and a testament to the cathartic power of art in times of profound loss.
Amber Jean Young Wiki Bio
|Amber Jean Young
|Bryant Street Gallery, Eleanor Harwood Gallery, Hashimoto Contemporary, Marrow Gallery, Ace Hotel, and more
|2012 Djerassi Resident Artist Program fellow
|San Francisco Chronicle, Palo Alto Weekly, The MediaMath Collection, and more
|Major Themes in Art
|Place, Grief, Resilience, Patterns, Plant Imagery
|Mixed Media, Fiber Art, Quilts, Painting
|Influence of Mother
|Pegi Young’s life celebration through “Pegi’s Garden” exhibition
|Raised funds for ovarian cancer research through solo exhibition
|Exploring mother/child relationships in her next body of work
|Legacy and Influence
|Acknowledges her mother’s influence on her artistic legacy
Early Life and Artistic Background of Amber Jean Young
Amber Jean Young’s artistic odyssey finds its roots in the enchanting landscapes of Broken Arrow Ranch, where she spent her formative years surrounded by the lush expanse of nature. Growing up amidst the trees and open skies, Amber’s childhood at Broken Arrow Ranch became a wellspring of inspiration, imprinting the essence of the natural world onto the canvas of her artistic imagination.
The influence of her mother, an avid collector of textiles ranging from Navajo weaving to Persian rugs and lace, added a layer of intricacy to Amber’s artistic palette. The patterns that adorned her childhood home became an indelible part of her artistic DNA, sparking a fascination with the interplay of shapes and designs. Amber fondly recalls her European strolls, often taking unexpected turns into lace shops, a testament to the eclectic influences that shaped her early visual sensibilities.
From a tender age, Amber’s destiny as an artist seemed predestined, finding its roots in preschool art classes that ignited a passion she never wavered from. Her educational journey through elementary and middle school in Portola Valley, followed by high school in San Francisco, was underpinned by unwavering encouragement from her parents, Pegi, and renowned musician Neil Young. This early affirmation of her identity as an artist provided a rare foundation, a testament to the extraordinary support that would fuel her artistic pursuits.
Artistic Journey and Evolution
Amber Jean Young’s artistic trajectory unfolds against the backdrop of the Bay Area, where her educational foundation was meticulously laid. From elementary and middle school experiences to the vibrant tapestry of high school life in San Francisco, each phase contributed to shaping the contours of her artistic identity.
The next chapter of Amber’s journey led her across the country to Ohio, where she embarked on higher education at Kenyon College. A pivotal decision that raised eyebrows — a California native opting for the Midwest — Amber’s choice was driven by a unique blend of personal exploration and the lure of a liberal arts education. It was a decision marked by the intriguing question she humorously admitted asking herself every February.
Upon returning to her California roots, Amber delved deeper into the realm of art by pursuing a graduate degree at the San Francisco Art Institute. It was here that her focus shifted, emphasizing painting as the primary medium for her artistic expression. The shift from mixed media to the intricate world of quilts and textiles was a defining moment in her artistic evolution.
A crucial turning point in Amber’s journey came with her residency at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside. Situated just beyond the mountain from her home, this residency became a crucible for her development, leading to the creation of a series of quilts that delved into the essence of place. This period was transformative, laying the foundation for her exploration of patterns, textiles, and the interplay of colors that would characterize her later works.
Pegi’s Garden Exhibition
The profound impact of Pegi Young’s passing on January 1, 2019, marked a poignant turning point in Amber Jean Young’s artistic journey, reshaping the very essence of her identity as an artist. Confronted with the acute grief of losing her mother, the foundation of Amber’s artistry underwent a seismic shift, prompting a reevaluation of her creative trajectory.
In the face of this profound loss, Amber found solace and expression in her first love—painting. The transition from textiles to the canvas became an intimate and cathartic tribute to her mother’s memory. This transformative period was captured in the resulting art collection, a poignant exhibition entitled “Pegi’s Garden.”
Amber’s canvas became a vibrant tapestry of emotions, woven with vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and the delicate imagery of flowers. The choice to explore floral motifs was not arbitrary; it was a deliberate attempt to encapsulate the essence of the houseplants her mother had lovingly tended. The paintings, executed in acrylic, echoed not an outdoor garden but the lush indoor greenery that had flourished under Pegi’s care.
The hues chosen for these works were a homage to Pegi’s final years, a celebration of her departure from the somber tones of the past to the bold, almost day-glo colors that marked her last chapter. These vibrant shades served as a therapeutic conduit for Amber, helping her navigate the tumultuous waters of grief and imbuing her art with a sense of resilience.
The culmination of this transformative artistic journey found its showcase at the Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto. The exhibition resonated with profound significance, not only as a visual narrative of loss and healing but also as a means of giving back to the community. The gallery, known for its commitment to the arts, became a poignant venue for Amber’s emotional odyssey, and a portion of the proceeds from the exhibition was dedicated to ovarian cancer research.
Interview Insights and Personal Reflections
Amber Jean Young’s interview offers a poignant glimpse into the depths of her creative process, providing profound insights into her journey through grief and the transformative power of art.
Amber’s Creative Process in Dealing with Grief:
As she navigated the challenging terrain of grief following her mother’s passing, Amber found refuge in her artistic endeavors. The interview unveils the nuances of her creative process during this emotionally charged period. She shares how, at a different juncture in her life, creating patterns had served as a solace. Returning to this technique during her bereavement, Amber intentionally crafted patterns in the brightest of shades, seeking to stimulate the production of serotonin and other ‘happy hormones.’ This intentional approach highlights the therapeutic role art played in her healing process.
The Deliberate Use of Bright Colors for Emotional Healing:
Amber’s deliberate choice of vivid, almost day-glo colors in her floral paintings is revealed to be directly inspired by her mother’s stylistic transformation during her final years. Pegi Young, known for her penchant for dramatic black, experienced a shift to vibrant patterns and bright colors that brought her joy. Amber harnessed this emotional resonance, using the same lively palette to infuse her paintings with positivity and, in her words, “trick” her brain into feeling good. This deliberate use of color emerges as a testament to the emotional intelligence embedded in Amber’s artistic decisions.
Inspiration from Pegi’s Style Transformation During Her Last Years:
The interview provides an intimate look into the symbiotic relationship between Pegi’s style evolution and Amber’s artistic choices. Pegi’s shift to embracing bold colors in her wardrobe became a profound source of inspiration for Amber’s artistic exploration. The narrative woven into “Pegi’s Garden” is not merely a visual representation of flora; it encapsulates a profound connection to Pegi’s vibrant spirit, as expressed through her clothing choices during her final years.
Visitors’ Reactions and Community Response to “Pegi’s Garden”:
The exhibition’s impact extends beyond the canvas, resonating deeply with visitors. Amber shares the heartening response from those who experienced the show, noting that many were not only delighted by the vibrant artworks but also moved by the emotional depth embedded in each piece. The community’s appreciation for the exhibition underscores the universality of grief and the healing power of art. Amber’s ability to connect with her audience on both an emotional and artistic level further solidifies the success and significance of “Pegi’s Garden.”
Philanthropy and Ovarian Cancer Research
Amber Jean Young’s artistic journey extends beyond the realm of self-expression, transcending into a powerful vehicle for philanthropy and social impact. Her dedication to ovarian cancer research is both profound and purpose-driven, embodying a commitment to effecting positive change through her art.
Amber’s Dedication to Raising Awareness and Funds for Ovarian Cancer Research:
In the wake of her mother’s battle with ovarian cancer, Amber found a cause that resonated deeply with her own journey. Recognizing the importance of research in combatting this formidable disease, she harnessed the reach of her art to raise awareness and funds. The interview illuminates Amber’s passion for making a meaningful contribution to ovarian cancer research, turning her personal experience into a catalyst for broader societal impact.
Description of the Solo Exhibition at Bryant Street Gallery:
The solo exhibition at Bryant Street Gallery served as the poignant platform for Amber’s dual narrative — a visual homage to her mother’s vibrant life and a rallying point for ovarian cancer awareness. The interview delves into the atmosphere of the gallery, describing how each painting became a brushstroke in the larger canvas of collective healing. Through “Pegi’s Garden,” Amber invited the audience to partake in her journey, fostering a shared space for reflection and connection.
The Donation to Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance and Matching Contribution from Pegi’s Siblings:
Amber’s commitment to making a tangible impact materialized in the form of a substantial donation to the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of paintings in “Pegi’s Garden” was earmarked for this crucial cause. Furthermore, the interview reveals a heartening development — Pegi’s siblings echoed this commitment by matching the sum, resulting in a combined contribution of over $14,000. This collaborative effort speaks not only to the familial support but also to the broader community rallying behind the cause, highlighting the transformative potential of art as a force for positive change.
Legacy and Future Artistic Plans
Amber Jean Young’s artistic journey, rooted in personal experiences and profound emotions, casts a compelling shadow on the canvas of her legacy. As she looks towards the future, Amber’s commitment to her craft and the thematic explorations that define her work pave the way for an enduring artistic legacy.
Amber’s Commitment to Continue Building Compositions Around Patterns:
The interview unveils Amber’s dedication to the core elements that have shaped her artistic identity. Her commitment to building compositions around patterns, as established in her earlier works, stands as a testament to the enduring influence of her upbringing and educational experiences. This unwavering commitment to foundational elements reflects not only the consistency of her artistic voice but also the evolving narratives she weaves through her art.
Exploration of the Mother/Child Relationship Theme in Her Next Body of Work:
Amber provides a glimpse into the thematic terrain she intends to explore in her upcoming body of work — the intricate dynamics of the mother/child relationship. Building on her previous explorations of grief, patterns, and vibrant colors, this new endeavor promises to delve into the nuanced interplay of familial bonds. The interview hints at a continuation of her unique ability to intertwine personal narratives with broader, relatable themes, inviting audiences into the intimate realm of human connections.
Acknowledgment of Pegi’s Influence on Her Artistic Legacy:
Pegi Young’s influence permeates Amber’s reflections on her artistic legacy. The interview captures Amber’s acknowledgment of the profound impact her mother had on shaping not only her artistic journey but also the legacy she leaves behind. Pegi’s vibrancy, transformative style, and unwavering support emerge as enduring elements embedded in the tapestry of Amber’s artistic DNA.
Inspirations, Challenges, and Advice
Amber Jean Young shares profound insights into the wellsprings of inspiration that fuel her creativity, the challenges inherent in her chosen path as a textile artist, and imparts valuable advice to aspiring artists based on her rich and varied experiences.
Sources of Inspiration: Northern California Landscape and Other Quilters:
Rooted in her Northern California upbringing, Amber draws inspiration from the captivating landscapes that surrounded her during her formative years. The lush woods and natural scenery of her childhood home become not just a backdrop but integral components of her artistic expression. Additionally, the interview sheds light on the profound impact of other quilters, particularly those employing unconventional fabrics and improvisational styles. Amber pays homage to the Gee’s Bend quilts and Rosie Lee Tompkins’ improvisational quilts, showcasing the dynamic interplay between personal experiences and a broader artistic community.
Explanation of the Concept Behind Specific Art Pieces:
Amber offers a thoughtful exploration of the concepts underpinning her art, unraveling the layers of meaning embedded in specific pieces. From the abstract, otherworldly environments to the deliberate fragmentation of images, each creation serves as a visual narrative with its own distinct story. The interview allows Amber to guide the audience through the motivations behind her art, creating a deeper connection between the observer and the observed.
Challenges Faced as a Textile Artist:
In candid reflections, Amber opens up about the challenges she has encountered on her journey as a textile artist. While her passion for the craft is evident, she acknowledges the intricacies of working within this medium. The interview provides a glimpse into the nuanced aspects of her process, from the potential wrestling with design elements to the intricate, time-consuming nature of certain projects. Through these challenges, Amber paints a realistic portrait of the textile artist’s journey, offering aspiring creatives a candid view of the path they may tread.
Advice for Aspiring Textile Artists Based on Her Experience:
Drawing from her own experiences, Amber imparts valuable advice to those aspiring to carve their paths in the world of textile art. She emphasizes the importance of staying true to one’s vision, irrespective of prevailing trends in the art world. This authenticity, she suggests, fosters the development of a unique perspective and creative language that will endure through various projects. Amber’s advice serves as a guiding beacon for aspiring textile artists, encouraging them to navigate their artistic landscapes with resilience, curiosity, and an unwavering commitment to their craft.
Amber Jean Young’s artistic odyssey, intricately woven with threads of personal experiences and creative exploration, stands as a testament to the transformative power of art. As we reflect on her journey, certain themes emerge — resilience in the face of grief, a commitment to authenticity, and a deep connection to nature and familial bonds.