The Fourth Wall

From the Studio 2

From the Studio II

Nancy Youdelman and Victoria May

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 Nancy Youdelman and Victoria May. Nancy Youdelman and Victoria May: Material Interventions, was scheduled to open in May. That physical show, when it happens, 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: I Devon McKnight and Manuel Angeja, II Nancy Youdelman and Victoria May, III Carrie Lederer and Kim Bennett, IV Sydney Cohen and Carlo Ricafort, V Mel Adamson and Alexandra Uchida, and VI Zach Bohny and Vered Gersztenkorn.

Victoria May, Pressing Instructions
Nancy Youdelman, Silent Tower (detail)
Nancy Youdelman, Embelished Tongue and Groove Pliers
Victoria May, material explorations with bike inner tubes
Victoria May, material structural exploration
Nancy Youdelman, Pin Bra #6
Nancy Youdelman, Pin Glove #14

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

Nancy Youdelman, film still from Death Piece, 1971
Nancy Youdelman and Dori Atlantis, High Society
Nancy Youdelman, studio shot
Victoria May, Like So Many Sandbags
Victoria May, Fetish Study

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

Victoria May, Utility Panel #12
Victoria May, destroyed work as new study
Nancy Youdelman, Uprooted
Nancy Youdelman, studio shot
Victoria May, exploration with denim
Victoria May, Carizzo Plain Distilled