Inspiration comes in bits and pieces to Clovis, Calif.-based artist Nancy Youdelman.
Her mixed-media work is laden with carefully selected found objects—items like buttons, twigs and a collection of 300 vintage photographs Youdelman purchased on eBay—the pieces of which hold stories and secrets of their own.
"Ever since I was in high school, I collected Victorian stuff," Youdelman, who sees the artifacts as "a connection to the past," tells SFR. "There's something about old lace and photographs that is exciting and just stuck with me."
For Youdelman, these items— "these very lovely things that were loved and have since faded"—raise issues from her own family past. They also make her wonder who owned them and what their lives might have been like, as well as ponder on the cyclical nature of things.
Breathing new life into the old elements, Youdelman weaves them inside pieces like a female dress form titled "Visitor," and a grouping of baby and children's shoes she filled with plaster, wrapped in string and covered with encaustic.
"The way the work is presented is concept-based—all these disparate parts that don't normally work together just mesh," she says.
This Friday, Youdelman presents her work in a solo show titled Dogs Are Forever. She says the name was directly inspired by one of the pieces: a series of found photographs featuring a little girl and her dog.
The decision, Youdelman says, is an homage to her own pets as well.
"Last December, I had to put my dog down. He was my constant companion, and even before that, I've always had dogs," she says.
Along with strumming emotional chords, Youdelman's work transcends the aesthetic and leaves viewers asking several questions. One of them challenges women's perceived roles.
"These materials that are not traditional art materials—they're more traditionally used by women for sewing and craft. I think the feminist part works in by the choice of materials," says Youdelman, who formed part of the first feminist art class taught by Judy Chicago in 1970 at California State University, Fresno.
"It's not really making a statement on gender roles specifically, but rather a subtle, personal one," she continues.
Youdelman hopes the show, while achieving a balance between poignancy and whimsy, strikes attendees as more than just a simple wine and cheese op.
"Expect to be surprised," she advances. "I hope people will find something unexpected; hopefully, they'll look at it and go away thinking about it and feel somehow uplifted."
5-7 pm Friday, April 12. Free.
231 Delgado St., 995-0231