Born in Calgary, Alberta Charley Young received a BFA from NSCAD University and is currently completing an MFA in Studio Arts at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. As an interdisciplinary artist, Charley is interested in drawing, printmaking, and public installation. To date, her work includes large-scale monoprints of historic building facades, that document a site’s appearance prior to its destruction.
Italo Calvino, author of Invisible Cities asserts that “The city does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, […] every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.” It is these lines and marks that Calvino describes that artistically motivate Charley’s work. The urban and rural landscape contain and outline their past in textures in a way that is akin to that of a relief printmaking plate.
Charley has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture in Dawson City, Yukon, The Vermont Studio Centre in Johnson Vermont, and Spark Box Studios in Picton County, Ontario and The Banff Centre, in Banff, Alberta. In 2014 she will participate in the Arctic Circle Program Expedition to Svalbard Norway.
I have been a VANS member for several years and have been lucky to participate in a variety of opportunities. In the Fall of 2012, I exhibited in work the Corridor Gallery that was created attending and artist residency at the Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture in Dawson City, Yukon. For this exhibition I displayed a series of image transfer based drawings using imagery of historic Dawson City architecture.
In December of 2012 I was the recipient of the Charlotte Wilson-Hammond / VANS award for excellence in the visual arts as presented by the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. I was extremely honored at being selected to receive this award and feel humbled to be recognized provincially.
As VANS member I have been fortunate to participate in numerous workshops, including Marketing for the Arts and Taxes for Artists. These course have undoubtedly provided me with lifelong knowledge that will allow me to better manage the practical and financial aspects of being a practicing artist.
To capture and record the textures of a place
Personally and artistically I am greatly influenced by places. I am reminded of a quote from Lucy Lippard’s text Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. She asserts“Place for me is the locus of desire. Places have influenced my life as much as, perhaps more than, people. I fall for (or into) places faster and less conditionally than I do for people.”
This statement is true for me as well. In the past few years I have spent much of my time working full time in the studio while attending artist residencies, at the Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture, the Vermont Studio Centre, Spark Box Studios and most recently, the Banff Centre, where I am currently working. I love to respond to the environment, be it urban or rural through the creation of drawings, prints, installations or writing. I’m constantly searching for textures that are present within places and how I can utilize these within my work. Frottage is a technique that I employ with my large scale facade prints as well as in my drawings to capture and record the textures of a place.
Finding time for development and research
Prior to returning to school to start an MFA, finding time for the development and research of my work was a challenge. I was working full time at NSCAD and trying to maintain an ambiguous art practice. A subsequent challenge that presents itself is how to fund the imaginative work you desire to create. In recent years I’ve been fortunate to have success in receiving grants through Arts Nova Scotia towards the creation of new work. As the 2012 recipient of the VANS/ Charlotte Wilson-Hammond Award presented by the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, I’ve also been able to pursue my education further. Currently I am working towards the completion of a MFA in Studio Arts at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine.
The possibilities of architectural installations
Much of my work has focused on the creation of large scale, outdoor public print installations utilizing the urban environment. This work has been created in response to the changing nature of the city of Halifax. In the work titled Shroud, I (with the endless support of friends and volunteers) frottage printed the facade of the Macara Barnstead Building located on Granville Street in Halifax. With the help of Coastal Restoration and Masonry I draped the facade with fabric and began to print the textures of this historic building. A few months later the structure was slowly deconstructed to make way for the expansion of the TD Bank Building. My fabric print, now serves as a to scale trace of the original building.
In addition to these labour intensive projects, I’m also an avid drawer and often use my drawings as the basis of my installation work. In April of 2012 I exhibited over 20 drawn works at the Craig Gallery in Dartmouth and in August of 2013, Studio 21 in Halifax exhibited 5 recent works that explored the possibilities of architectural installations.
Identity, trace and void
Currently in my studio at the Banff Centre, I am working on a project tentatively titled Holding a Place in your Hands. Its intended to be a small scale sculptural project where I’ve been casting the interior of my hand against architecture, the landscape and other people’s hands. This work intends to capture the texture of a place, while exploring the relationship between printmaking and sculpture.
In addition to this I am also working on a series of fragmented mountain drawings titled The Signature of the Summit. This is evidence of my responsiveness to my current Rocky Mountain surroundings of Banff, Alberta. This series of drawings on mylar uses graphite and white pencil crayon to outline the unique lines of mountains that are similar to the lines of a hand to explore identity, trace and void.
Navigating the arctic waters of Norway
In the coming months I will be completing my Master’s in Fine Arts and will be working towards the creation of a thesis and final exhibition. Immediately following this, I will be off to Svalbard, Norway, where I will take part in the Arctic Circle Program. This is a residency program where I will be aboard a ice class Barquentine sailing vessel navigating the arctic waters of Svalbard. While attending this residency I hope to complete a series of small scale drawings and a few on land installations. This rare experience will certainly influence me artistically for years to come.