Copyright Daren Young Artworks, 2013. All rights reserved.
Multi-media artwork by Daren Young
Art Access Gallery January 16 – February 13, 2009
This exhibition represents the work I completed while in the two-year graduate program at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, Vermont. During my four semesters in the low- residency MFA program there, I created four different bodies of work each tied together by the theme of queer identity.
One of the myriad aspects of my identity is that I am a gay man. While I have been out as a queer person for over 25 years, it wasn’t until I entered graduate school that I took the opportunity to more fully explore my sexual identity through the art I make. In essence, I “came out” as a queer artist during my time at Vermont College. While representations of sexual identity and queer politics have been done by many other artists, mine come from my own unique background and perspective which includes growing up and living in our often conservative and hetero-centric culture here in Utah.
I selected this exhibition’s title, HOMO/evocative, to describe its overall theme of queer identity. As a play on the term homo-erotic, the work in this show is not necessarily meant to be titillating or provocative in nature, but rather intended to evoke from you, the viewer, an emotional response and recognition of your own identity. The Latin word homo translates as meaning the same; it is my hope that the art in this exhibition will allow you to see the sameness we share as human beings regardless of whether we are straight or gay.
The work I created during my first semester is titled Under-eye Cream and Other Findings in my Medicine Chest: a Self-portrait. These drawings and paintings are an exploration of how the health, beauty, and grooming products we select for ourselves identify us and become a portrayal of the self. In my second semester, I developed a series of twelve autobiographical drawings titled One Boy’s Story: Snapshots from My Youth. These images—intended to look like old black-and-white photographs—tell the story of the pivotal moments from my childhood and teenage years that were influential as I discovered my sexual identity.
The third semester’s work, Reflections of a Middle-aged Gay Man, relates to our society’s obsession with youth and physical beauty and its particular resonance for gay men as we grow older. This also represents my first foray into video, as it includes interviews with sixteen gay men between ages 40 and 65 documenting their thoughts and feelings about being middle-aged. The presentation from my final semester, which is also the work I exhibited in my MFA thesis exhibition in July 2008, focuses on the highly topical and often controversial issue of same-sex marriage. With the title You’re Invited… Discourses on Same-sex Marriage from a Queer Perspective, I offer more video work including a “virtual” civil union ceremony as well as interviews with eight gay and lesbian couples all in long-term committed relationships.
My art may offend you; or it may speak directly to you. Ultimately, I hope it will generate in each of you a greater understanding of what it means to have a sexual orientation and identity outside the center, as well as evoke from you thoughtful contemplation about your own humanity. May you discover that while we differ from each other in many ways, the things we share in common are far more significant and unifying.