Jon Young   
2 Deers - view 1, 2021, Iridescent fabric, wood, batting, and sand, 93.98 x 99.06 x 20.32 cm

Jon Young b.1981, Winston Salem, NC, lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

A tribal member of the Catawba Indian Nation in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Young explores the development of language and signage in the American West. Young’s wood, sand and fabric sculptures, which he refers to as ‘waymarks’, adopt historical symbols from Paleolithic cave paintings, ancient Greek pottery and imagery of Hollywood Westerns and Looney Tunes cartoons. Young depicts the histories and mythologies of the frontier, an ideological concept popularised by the historian Frederick Jackson Turner, which has signified both Eu­ropean opportunity and indigenous genocide.

Young’s latest series is informed by his experience of living in the Mojave Desert in California: fires, snakes, scorpions, horses, grasshoppers, moths, sand, tables and posted signs all appear in a translucent and iridescent aesthetic. These sculptures flicker, shift, and move as the viewer orients themselves to the work, like a mirage in the desert. These sculptural reliefs are built entirely by hand by Young like a piece of furniture, always with a virtuoso use of unorthodox industrial materials. The reliefs sit on boxes incongruously filled with sand which appears to defy gravity – the sand is fixed into a rubber resin – the line ‘drawn’ on the surface, grounding his sculptures to the land.

“There is a kind of mapping that is happening in the work, a mapping that attempts to collapse the meanings of symbols of the mythological West as they relate to my Native American heritage and my journey. It’s trying to make a map using fluctuating symbols, to get back to a home that hasn’t existed for a very long time or for so long that you question if it existed at all.” Jon Young, 2020