The Art of Social Realism

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ANNYOUNG copyST. JOHNSBURY- The Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild is a cooperative group that features artwork from more than 100 artisans.  The Backroom Gallery of the guild hosts exhibitions that change every six weeks. The latest exhibit is featuring the artwork of Ann Young.

 Young has dabbed in many art forms, including woodcarving, sculpture, and portraits.  “I was a ceramic sculptor and a wood carver, but all those years I was doing those works, I always wanted to be a painter,” Young told us.

Joan Harlowe is on the board of directors and helps to coordinate the exhibitions in the Backroom Gallery, and has known Young personally for almost 30 years.  "I met Ann way back many years ago, when she was making ceramic figures and I saw them and liked them.  I met her and got to know her; she's a lovely person."

Of Young's work, Harlowe told us ”She began to paint 10 or so years ago and her work has evolved so wonderfully; it's quite marvelous and skillful.  I've enjoyed watching her evolve."  Young added that “when I started out, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and it’s taken all these years to figure that out.”  

Harlowe expects there to be a good turnout for the exhibit, and believes the community will benefit from the artwork.  "It is work that helps us think about what is going on in the world.  It will make people think of the state of their world, politics, and people."  

Young added that “all of the works that you see [in the gallery] are paintings of people and about half of them are paintings that depict some kind of social statement about the world as it is today.  The other half also depict social realism but they are pictures of ordinary people doing ordinary things.”  

Young also told us how her work reflects her personal views, stating “I have paintings that strongly protest the notion of war and that those in power can send off young people to be killed in wars.  I have a painting about global warming, and a couple about class distinction.  One or two are about how young people are influenced by their elders to become aggressive and warlike.”  

Young has had many exhibitions and art shows throughout northern Vermont, but it took her a long time to get to where she is today.  “It’s very easy become discouraged and give up, and I have thought that myself many times and I have to remind myself not to give up.  I have a sign in my studio that says ‘don’t quit.’”

The exhibition runs from now until Saturday June 13th between the hours of 10:30AM and 5:30PM.