Daisy Youngblood

Article excerpt

The only disruption in this austere, brightly illuminated space was the diminutive work of Daisy Youngblood--a community of small votive objects scattered around these ample rooms. Mounted directly on the walls or placed on tall pedestals, Youngblood's clay sculptures seemed to undermine the carefully constructed serenity of their environment.

Each piece embodied abandonment or carried in its contours some trace of injury, age, or lifelong struggle. Foreshortened Horse, 1992, was mounted at eye level, projecting from the wall at mid body to animate a space that extended well beyond its Lilliputian dimensions. The neck turned sharply, its head tucked back in a graceful gesture of deference or perhaps disdain. This elegiac form spoke of unimaginable sorrow and sounded less expected notes of uncompromising defiance.

Standing on a chest-high pedestal, Little Elephant, 1991, was tragically whimsical. Youngblood placed this bantam-sized beast in a dramatic pose--legs spread, head level and trunk down--eschewing detail in favor of a more abstract, gestural impression. In sharp disjunction, three of the creature's legs and the tail were wooden pieces: the legs wre solid branches, hastily appended prostheses; the tail a delicate twig inscribing space. The awkwardness and anguish of a body in pain stirred a deep-seated ache.

Like the figurehead of an old sailing vessel, Old Woman, 1991, consisted of a head and torso mounted at a gentle angle from the wall. Slouching into space, the coarse, low-fired terra-cotta figure was marked with the bleakness of age, a once-supple body awkwardly twisted by brittle and bent bones: its arms were absent and its shoulders hunched; its breasts misshapen by age; its head a fragile orb without hair or ears, the only evidence of the memory of sight two vacant sockets. …