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/ Exhibitions / A Long and Slow Surrender: Wendy Young

A Long and Slow Surrender: Wendy Young

July 5, 2024 – December 5, 2024

Bickers Gallery

Wendy Young never met a stranger; not only does she have the ability to talk to anyone anywhere about anything, most of the people she meets open up to her as soon as she introduces herself, inviting her into their homes, studios, storefronts, and shops, sharing their life stories on video, inviting her to take their pictures – welcoming her into their worlds. The worlds Wendy is welcomed into often clash with one another, sometimes violently, and yet this artist has the warmth and willingness to hear multiple viewpoints, even those she may disagree with. That fearless openness has allowed the artist to travel the Southern States for years.  

Although she grew up near Pensacola, Florida, the artist now lives in the Southwest; for years she has made an annual pilgrimage back to the South, maintaining her relationships to extended family, introducing herself to strangers, sharing meals and asking questions – lots of personal questions. The answers she gets and the pictures she makes might make some viewers uncomfortable, the context in which these narratives are shown might make others equally uncomfortable. That’s the point. We need to cross borders without guns, we need to listen to one another in ways that are not polarizing, even when we disagree. The personal is definitely political but it should not lead to neighborly violence, should not lead to incivility, should not lead to insurrection. 

One of the important roles that the arts can play is to provide spaces and opportunities that reduce animosity and invite respectfully creative dialogue. Rather than ask ourselves, do I like this or that artwork, what if we asked ourselves, what am I looking at, what am I listening to, and what might I learn from what I am seeing or hearing? Why is this artist making this artwork and why is it here in this gallery? What is the subject matter and why might it be important? Can I remain open to all perspectives and viewpoints, even those that challenge my beliefs long enough to engage? 

Art cannot solve all the problems rushing us toward the end of the world as we know it, or the polarizing impact of racial, gender, social or economic injustice. Indeed, no single discipline can solve these problems. But by bringing art, education, science, economics, and people together, it’s possible to discover what kinds of collaborative working practices help us find just and sustainable responses to complex problems. The exhibitions at the Turchin Center bring visibility to issues confronting our world today that create positive change for communities, places, and creative imaginations around the world. One of our goals is to provide insight into artists’ creative concerns, wildest ideas, inspired hopes, and waking dreams for the immediate present and for the future.

Wendy Young, Portraits of Lee and Jackson Hamburg AR

Wendy Young, Portraits of Lee and Jackson Hamburg AR

Artist statement

It all started with a disagreement with a friend.

She stated vehemently that all the Confederate Monuments needed to come down. Now. Although I understand the conflict that the monuments present, my gut reaction was, “No damn Yankee is going to tell me what to do with my statues!” As a Southerner, I often felt that most Northern attitudes toward the South were misconceptions. Now I see those misconceptions have dark truths behind them. I struggled with that reaction because I have no real connection to these monuments.

Growing up in the deep South, my Southern education led me to believe the “Lost Cause Myth,” which promotes States Rights as the impetus for the Civil War. Curious, I read the copies of the original Letters of Secession from all the Southern States. Yes, States Rights, Secession, and Southern Heritage can be perceived in the texts, but the core of these letters points to the South’s pro-slavery beliefs and the North’s objective of abolishing slavery as the main reasons for conflict.

I am exploring my clash with my Southern Heritage through these images of Confederate Monuments and the religious, racial, and rural tensions that Southerners experience living among them.

Wendy Young

About the artist

Wendy Young

Wendy Young is an artist and educator currently living in Cerrillos, New Mexico. 

In 1982, Young was pursuing a career in music as a French Horn major at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her goal was to become a studio musician and play background music for cartoons. “Horn licks in cartoons are spectacular.” When her parents gave her an SLR camera that year for her 19th birthday, she put down her horn and started making images. The artist notes, “I was smitten by the amazing properties of photography. The idea that I could aim my camera at something or someone that interested me, develop the film, make a print, study the print, and learn from it still captivates me after 41 years.”

Wendy Young has been involved in almost every aspect of photography, including working in local processing labs and photo supply stores, owning her own commercial studio, assisting other artists in printing their work, and teaching photography at The College of Santa Fe and Santa Fe University of Art and Design.