I first met May Yang in high school. We were both art students at Holland Hall, and I remember her dedication to the development of her craft even to this day. She began with photography and later moved into printing and painting, and I have been fascinated watching her grow artistically over the years.
Yang graduated from high school in 2004, and went on to study printmaking and graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. Four years later, she has returned to her hometown.
We met recently at a friend's house to catch up and wax artistic. Reflecting on life post-undergrad, Yang seemed optimistic about what the future holds for her artistic career.
"These first few months of not being a student have been interesting. I have always been self-motivated, yet I am unsure of how successful an artist I could be in Tulsa. You never know what's gonna happen, so I am just trying to stay positive," said Yang.
Yang shows her work on a regular basis, which is the first step an artist must take in order to be successful. It helps to learn how to deal with rejection from galleries. But, more importantly, getting one's name out there is crucial so that the public is aware of one's work. Over the years, I have seen Yang's work on display at Momentum OKC and at group and solo shows at Artifacts.
She is a hard worker and certainly motivated. Two weekends ago, I was glad to see a piece by Yang at the Momentum Tulsa event. I was gladder to hear that Yang has a show of new works on the horizon.
People, Places, Things
"Atlas" is the title of Yang's show of new work, opening Thurs., July 10, 2008 from 5:30-9pm. "Atlas" will be the first show in Artifacts Gallery's new location at 417 W. 7th St.
Yang is a proficient mixed media artist, combining painting, collage and screen printing in her works. She also works with transfers and wonder pens, which are clear markers filled with solvent used for blending.
"The effect is blurry and atmospheric, and I feel it lends itself well to my work," she said.
Yang is in the midst of starting a new body of work based on the idea of place, incorporating locations, memories and experiences with certain people in certain places.
"This is just the beginning, so I haven't worked it all out yet. I am developing the technical aspects right now, and the conceptual side will emerge later," explained Yang.
Despite a lack of an established concept, Yang's work is visually strong. Fields of washed out colors create a dream scene from which hard objects emerge. Yang's color palette has evolved over the years, yet her blues remain and they are more magical than ever. They truly transport the viewer to another dimension.
Superimposed on top of the textural colors are hard, graphic renderings of local landmarks and monuments like the Mid-Continent Tower and the tall, cloud shaped sculpture near the Center of the Universe.
Her use of local landmarks makes her works Tulsa-centric, yet they are more than that. The overall effect is dreamlike, otherworldly.
For example, "In Transit," a six-color screenprint, features the Tulsa skyline in the upper-right area of the picture plane. It is surrounded by organic, blue and yellow "cloud" formations. In the lower left corner are the vague, silhouetted forms of buildings... or something. It is all very mysterious, yet the image appears as if the city is being carried away or magically appearing in a vivid daydream.
"An Era of Caution" is an exceptional linoleum cut diptych. A successful work of art will manifest differing images in people's minds, and therefore yield an endless plethora of interpretations.
This linoleum cut is composed of stark, contrasting black and white, broken up into jagged forms. Obsessive stipling and lines create texture. To me, "An Era of Caution" appears to be a mythical, mountainous landscape, complete with starlit sky. But that's just my interpretation.
Yang said that her work for "Atlas" will be more formal than what she has done in the past. These works will revolve around colors, shapes and textures, with an emphasis on the textural.
"My work suffered from premeditation last year, and this new stuff is the complete opposite. It's a more spontaneous process and it seems to work better for me," she elaborated.
Ultimately, Yang would like to go back to school. She is looking at the Southwest for her next destination. She wants to go to school for professional printing. This basically would mean collaborations with artists to create fine art editions of their work.
For now, though, Yang just wants to make her presence known in the Tulsa art world and "Atlas," is her latest offering to the public.
She will have five or six prints, five or six lithographs and a few posters done for her graphic design thesis on display at "Atlas."
After the opening, there will be an after party at the Cellar Dweller, in the same building as the new Artifacts headquarters.
Yang, who has been affiliated with Artifacts for some time now, hinted at future collaborations between the gallery and bar, and I think we all know of the close relationship between art openings and alcohol. Should be a great working relationship.
The opening of "Atlas," and the launch of the new Artifacts headquarters will be on July 10 from 5:30-9pm. Hours on Friday, July 11 are from 7-10pm and on Saturday, July 12 from 1-3pm. You can view more work by May Yang at electrofervor.net.
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