David J. Emerson Young artist statement
Young first became aware of his art talent early in 1st grade. During a spelling test that included the word “horse,” Mrs. Henshaw told the class to draw a horse. Young sat in the last seat of the last row in the alphabetized classroom. When Mrs. Henshaw told the class to pass their spelling papers forward the children in Young’s row were showing students around them the horse he had drawn. The disruption led to Young getting taken to the coat hall and getting spanked with a wooden bolo paddle on his first day of school–apparently for drawing a horse too well.
This was the beginning of a transformation, and it was his classroom peers who helped him realize his creative gifts and set him on a path dedicated to art.
Young had a much better experience with art in high school. He virtually received a college art degree during three years in high school with art (and art history) teacher James Doversberger. Having such a gifted artist, scholar and teacher in high school made his freshman art classes at the university disappointingly redundant.
So he switched his major to philosophy and literature. This included six creative writing classes, three of which were one-on-one seminars with Pulitzer Prize winner Sandra Gilbert.
This journey through writing did not so much distract him from art as it expanded his creative resources for visual art. It has been especially beneficial for art in public spaces––where the work should fit its context.
While he was reading literature and writing poems, he still aggressively pursued visual art on his own, compiling over 3,300 drawings and a few paintings during his college years. Most of these drawings were kept small enough to keep professors thinking he was taking notes.
After graduation, every place he lived had some kind of studio space. But the uninterrupted time he spent in them was too brief to produce the quality and quantity expected of himself.
Eventually, in the mid 80s, his brother John convinced him rent a separate studio so he could focus on painting at least a day or two a week. That focused isolation of many all-night painting sessions launched a new wave of paintings that were far superior to his previous work.
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Nearly all of Young’s paintings start as drawings. The drawings come from his subconscious––the place he trusts most. It is as if his subconscious has a direct line to his drawing hand. He often doesn’t know what the subject is until the lines reveal it well into the drawing. Once it’s recognized, he develops the image into a finished drawing.
When there is a specific subject to render, like his 18 painting series on Global Warming, he studies the subject until it becomes part of his subconscious awareness.
Then he starts drawing without forcing the subjects out. And, in time, the intended subjects begin to appear on the page.
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Young’s art-in-public-spaces company, 2nd Globe, was started in the late 1980s as a collaborative creative group. Young has designed, fabricated, and installed nearly 100 sculptural works of public art, 46 of these sculptures reside in the Indiana State Museum’s outdoor sculpture series of state counties.
––David J. Emerson Young