Artist Profile – Amber Jean Young
During her mother’s fight with cancer, Amber Jean Young turned to painting to help process her grief. Her work evolved into an exhibition, Pegi’s Garden.
Based in Berkeley, California, she works across mediums to explore ideas about place, grief, and resilience. She incorporates vibrant patterns and plant imagery into her compositions.
Young is an interdisciplinary artist who focuses on themes of home, loss and resilience. Her paintings, textiles and sculptures use vibrant patterns and plant imagery to evoke feelings of healing.
In her most recent work, Young explores place and memory by combining photography with quilting. She prints photographs she took of her rural Northern California homeland on fabric and plays with color, contrast and aspect ratio in the printing process to create varied versions of the same image.
These images are reassembled into quilts and transformed as montages on linen, visually restructuring the memory of her homeland in an aesthetically powerful way. These quilts include rolling hills, blue skies and quiet clouds that are synonymous with California landscapes but also hold a deeper, personal history for her as she recalls her memories of childhood on that very land and beneath such skies.
The process of disassembling a familiar and dear place allows Young to create new worlds unbridled by reality. This practice reflects her meditation upon the incomplete nature of her personal memories.
Amber Jean Young was born in 1984 and currently lives in Berkeley California. She is an interdisciplinary artist who uses photography, textiles, and quilting to create vibrant patterns and plant imagery in her compositions.
Her work explores ideas about place, grief, and resilience across mediums. She combines bold pigments with sharp contrast to convey her feelings about nature and womanhood.
She is a Djerassi Resident Artist Program fellow. She has exhibited nationally including Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto, Eleanor Harwood Gallery, Hashimoto Contemporary, Marrow Gallery in San Francisco, Monte Vista Projects and Subliminal Projects in Los Angeles.
In addition to her husband Neil Young, Amber Jean has two sons, Ben and Zeke. Both of them are impacted by cerebral palsy and have their own unique challenges.
Amber Jean Young’s mother died of ovarian cancer on January 1, 2019. The loss left her with a grief so acute that it changed everything about her life.
As a visual artist, she’s often able to tap into a wellspring of creativity that can help her process her grief and heal. For her recent work, she explores place and memory through a combination of photography and quilting.
In her quilted fiber based art, she constructs fractured images using photographs of her rural Northern California homeland joined together with fabric. Her finished works resemble the landscapes she grew up with, and include rolling hills, blue skies and quiet clouds that are associated with the area but also carry a deep, personal history for her.
In the past, she’s worked as a model and had her own fashion line. However, her alopecia almost ended her career when she started wearing wigs at the age of 15. But after starting an online community for bald women, she learned to ‘appreciate herself’ and started modeling again.
As an artist, Amber Jean Young is inspired by textiles, flowers and plant life. She is also inspired by the notion of memory and the construction of memory.
She has exhibited her work locally and nationally, including Subliminal Projects, Michael Rosenthal Gallery, Ever Gold Gallery, Robert Berman Gallery, Berkeley Art Center, ArtPadSF, Root Division and StoreFrontLab. She is a 2012 Djerassi Resident Artist Program Fellow and a 2012 SECA Art Award Nominee.
Her paintings are a result of her personal experience with loss. She lost her mother, writer and musician Pegi Young to ovarian cancer in 2019.
As she began painting, she was struck by the connection she felt with her mom’s love of plants. She realized that this was a way for her to memorialize Pegi and to help her process grief. This process eventually led to her exhibition, Pegi’s Garden. It was held from March through April 2022 at Bryant Street Gallery and raised over $14,000. A portion of the sales was donated to Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.
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