Artillery Magazine Reviews Brenna Youngblood by Sarah Elbaum

"Brenna Youngblood: Pomona College Museum of Art," by Sarah Elbaum, Artillery Magazine

Revealing a neglected and deliciously beautiful world from which we get only a handful of 72” x 60” snapshots—monochromatic yet stippled with smears, cracks and drips—Brenna Youngblood’s eight massive canvases, all mixed media, narrate a fall from grace. 

Titles insinuate an unseen evil, suggesting leads like a film noir detective: Hidden City (2014), Women’s Health Pack (Drive Buy) (2013). A jigsaw puzzle fragment collaged onto the surface of Blade Runner: Painter of Light (2014) illustrates a Neo-Classical dome: Capitol Hill? The conspiracy runs deep and it’s clear we skim only the topmost layer, avoiding glances, keeping our heads low.

Bulging, spray-painted metallic canvases double billed as aluminum siding maintain the alley aesthetic in Youngblood’s crime beat-cum-sociological study. Use, wear and detritus become signs of discarded people. But who are we chasing? It’s unclear who or where the victims are, much less the perpetrators. Was the title of Women’s Health Pack (Drive Buy) lifted from a strip mall sign, its floral wallpaper unpasted from a sad state-funded clinic? The five points of rust-colored pigment in Hidden City now resemble a clenched handprint, the unpeeled strip of wallpaper in Women’s Health, a gun. Such stark insinuations of desperation and violence don’t demand anything of us; sitting as quietly and defiantly as evidence, their air of conspiracy never condenses, leaving us with a case gone cold.