April 6: This week, as The Fourth Wall continues its series of online exhibitions, we are pleased to feature artworks, studies, and photographs from the studios of Victoria May and Nancy Youdelman. Nancy Youdelman and Victoria May: Material Interventions, was scheduled to open in May. That gallery show will include additional works as well as a catalog with interviews. As part of the current online show, we have included various quotes from those interviews.
View the entire From the Studio series: 1.Manuel Angeja and Devon McKnight, 2.Victoria May and Nancy Youdelman, 3.Kim Bennett and Carrie Lederer, 4.Sydney Cohen and Carlo Ricafort, 5.Mel Adamson and Alexandra Uchida, and 6.Zach Bohny and Vered Gersztenkorn.
Victoria May uses a large array of materials to explore dichotomies. As a viewer, one might be drawn in, repulsed, comforted, or shocked, all while looking at a single work. It might strike us as incredibly funny and cynical or deadly serious and earnest or, more than likely, all of these at the same time. May manages this without words or manifestos. Her work speaks quietly.
"I guess it’s because I often use existing, everyday materials and that’s why I think of it as intervention. So much of my process is about how a material behaves, what it wants to do on its own, what its properties are. My intervention might be an interruption of that or a facilitation of that, depending on what it is I want to express."
"I think a lot about class. Like I explained earlier, I came from modest means and I feel like so much of our family’s philosophy was about making do with what came around — it’s odd because I feel like I now carry that force almost obsessively. I have this minimalist philosophy that I’m not sure always comes across in my work. I’ve only become aware of it lately. I am critical of the excess that is so rampant in our times and the obsession with newness and constant upgrading. The humble and abject materials that I use are pointing to the opposite. All this excess and lavishness has its roots in very ordinary material and it's often just through sheer labor that things become precious."
"I guess the other political and social aspect is the history and/or connotation of the material, which is part of my selection process."
- Victoria May, from forthcoming exhibition catalog
Nancy Youdelman was one of fifteen students who participated in the first Feminist Art Program in the United States. The class was developed by artist Judy Chicago in 1970/71 at Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno).
"We had many discussions about women making different art from men and, for me, it’s the material. I had sewn all my life. I used to make all my own clothes. My mother was an excellent seamstress."
"Both of them [Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro] gave tons of validation, especially to me for what I was doing in fabric. Of course, that kind of thing opens the path for continuation and exploration."
"One night a student in the class, Jan Lester, and I were in my apartment. I had all these costumes from working with theatre and it was just a fun thing. We started dressing up and using an instamatic camera to take pictures. It was really inspired by my mother’s past. And the sewing was inspired by my mother too, and a lot of women."
"Every one of those pearl necklaces has a history."
- Nancy Youdelman, from forthcoming exhibition catalog
About the Artists
Victoria May uses fabric and stitching as the basis for mixed-media sculpture and installation that address the tenderness and absurdity in the human condition. She is an avid advocate for material re-use and for the recognition of the beauty in the ordinary. May received her MFA from San Jose State University and her BA from UCLA. She exhibits nationally and internationally and has been represented by Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson, AZ and Don Soker in San Francisco. Exhibitions have included the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, the Monterey Museum, the De Saisset Museum, Minnesota Street Project, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Maloof Foundation, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. She received the Santa Cruz County Rydell Fellowship, was named Artist Laureate by Silicon Valley Creates, and has had several residencies including Jentel Arts, Wyoming and the Lucid Art Foundation, Inverness, CA. May teaches at Cabrillo College, and is currently Program Coordinator for the campus gallery.
Nancy Youdelman has been exhibiting her artwork since 1971. She has the distinction of having been part of the very first feminist art class that was taught by Judy Chicago in 1970 at California State University, Fresno. She continued her participation in the Feminist Art Program (1971—1973) at California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, where she participated in the internationally acclaimed project, Womanhouse (1972), receiving her BFA from CalArts in 1973 and her MFA with an emphasis in sculpture from UCLA in 1976. Youdelman has had a varied and interesting career: she worked as an artistic consultant on the 1975 Rolling Stones concert in Los Angeles, was a founding member of both Grandview Gallery at the historic Woman’s Building in Los Angeles and Double X, a feminist collective, and was a university art instructor for 20 years. Her extensive exhibition record includes many national exhibitions including the Brooklyn Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Heather James Fine Art in New York City. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including grants from the Pollock/Krasner, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb and the Tree of Life Foundations.