THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE
Now on display at Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. is Decadence, a solo exhibition featuring a series of still life, pastel paintings by Courtney Young. In this body of work, Young focuses on the rich decadency of comfort food. For the artist, these photorealistic, larger-than-life depictions of her subject matter convey the emotional significance that we as a people place on food in our everyday lives.
Choosing subject matters that are rich in color and texture, Young takes her photographic references and brings them into the studio where she crafts inspiring compositions that serve as faithful representations of their real-world counterparts. Young strives to recreate the memories of her favorite childhood foods, while evoking hunger in others. Sections of her paintings are consciously blurred, which consequentially sharpens other aspects of her works. This conscious blurring, for the artist, creates a sense of emphasis while also conveying a loss of clarity that often occurs if one is an emotional eater and uses food to fill a void.
Her painting Breakfast for Dinner depicts two, larger-than-life, fluffy waffles that are overrun by butter, jam, and maple syrup. The painting is such a faithful depiction of its subject matter that it becomes challenging for the viewer to believe that the work is not a photograph. The accompanying plate and fork are rendered out of focus, allowing the viewer to tantalizingly study the hyper-realistic food that is presented. The composition is bathed in light, creating a stunning array of depth within the work. The viewer is instantly pulled into the painting, and becomes lost in the mesmerizing coffers of the waffles that ooze with melting butter, savory syrup, and succulent jam preserves. Young’s painting has a tranquil quality, inspiring notions of a simpler time such as Sunday brunch with one’s family or, as suggested by the title, the childhood treat of having breakfast for dinner.
The viewer often craves the food depicted in Young’s paintings. Another work in the exhibition, Guilty Pleasure, portrays three powdered, jelly-filled doughnut holes stacked atop one another. In the blurred background, the viewer can observe several more jelly-filled pastries alongside a tall, thirst-quenching, glass of milk. The work is so detailed, with the artist going through the trouble of accurately rendering the flaky pockets of dough, the minute specks of powdered sugar, and the translucent, sticky texture of the jelly that oozes out of the fried dough. There is a notion of defined elegance within the painting as Young’s low-pointed perspective establishes a monumentality that is not typically accustomed to unhealthy, junk food. Still, by carefully arranging her constructed composition, coupled with the artist’s masterful lighting and attention to detail, Young emphasizes the dominant role food, especially comfort food, has in some people’s daily lives.
Courtney Young is a fine artist from Bay Shore, NY. She received her MA in Art Education from Adelphi University and is currently a MFA Candidate at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Her artwork has been exhibited across Long Island with select exhibitions at the Heckscher Museum of Art, Islip Art Museum, and the Anthony Giordano Gallery. Young is an active member of the Pastel Society of America, the Art League of Long Island, and the Patchogue Arts Council.
The Patchogue Arts Council (PAC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in 2008 to promote, encourage, and support the arts on the greater south shore of the Town of Brookhaven. The Patchogue Arts Council and Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Company created the PAC Members Gallery at Roast in the summer of 2013 as an alternative exhibition venue where PAC members can exhibit their artwork. In addition to exhibiting artwork and brewing award-winning coffee, Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. hosts a monthly poetry night on the first Saturday of every month.
Decadence: Soft Pastels by Courtney Young is on display at Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. now through March 5, 2017. An opening reception for the exhibition is scheduled for Sunday, February 5, from 2 – 4 P.M. The reception is free and open to the public. For more information on Courtney Young, visit http://www.courtneyyoungart.com.
All images are courtesy of the artist
© Courtney Young