“I have always been fascinated with the intersection of humans, animals and mythology,” says mixed media sculptor Betsy Youngquist. “My creative pursuits are centered on exploring those connections.”
More than a dozen of Youngquist’s sculptures-made out of high density foam and covered primarily with beads-are on display in Patina Gallery’s show “Season of the Surreal,” which opens at 5 p.m. on November 2.
Starting with a foam form sculpted by her partner R. Scott Long, Youngquist adds eyes to the face and lets the character unfold, one step at a time. “In needing to meet a creature through the eyes, I begin to understand what each character wants to become,” she says.
“A rabbit body may be combined with a doll face, and an octopus figure may have doll eyes and a mouth.”
Youngquist seeks out contemporary and vintage beads, some of which are hundreds of years old, through several sellers in the East Coast, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show and Ebay. Grout is added around the beads, “giving them an old aesthetic,” she adds.
It’s been an interesting challenge for Youngquist to locate old dolls. “There are some people excavating the ground around former doll factories in Germany and finding parts from imperfect dolls that were disposed of on the ground,” she explains. “The dolls were made from around 1860 through 1930. I’ve been able to find these folks and buy doll parts from them.”
Born in Rockford, Illinois and still a resident of the area, Youngquist began college as a biology major but eventually decided to focus on art. She’s been making mixed media sculptures for more than 20 years and co-owns a gallery in New Orleans that displays a wide range of her work.
“People call my work ‘surrealism,’ so I’ve embraced that term as well,” she says. “Being a surrealist helps me explore and dance in the energy of the interconnectedness of all things. As my beaded characters emerge, they carry with them tales from the other side of the mirror. I am grateful for the joy and astonishment experienced through this journey.”