Jody Young sits in a coffee shop, sketching and writing in her notebook. She is fueled by the busy chatter and movement around her. She overhears a conversation and becomes enthralled and slightly fearful. She begins to take notes, labeling them “The Coffee Shop Conversation about Reproduction and Repression.” She writes, “So weird. An arrangement of marriage for citizenship is what I’m witnessing – so far from home, so foreign from love. I’m scared for her. I wish her the best.”
Young, a writer and a painter, is hyper-aware of the ways of the world. Raised is an environment some might call tumultuous, she learned to eventually “let it go” through art. “(My childhood) has provided me with these strong emotions that need to be set free through art, my therapy,” she said.
Young grew up in Prosser, Wash., and remembers sitting on her father’s lap as he drew barns and water mills on pieces of firewood that he would then throw into the fire. “He taught me about shadows,” she said. The shadows stayed with her, and she began folding pieces of paper into little books of art.
She took art classes in high school and at a community college in the Tri-Cities. She also studied dance, which she occasionally taught. She supported herself with odd jobs, followed a boyfriend to California, broke up with him, met her husband-to-be, and then moved six years ago to the Spokane area, where she has settled into the roles of stay-at-home mother and artist. “I create whenever I can fit it in,” she said.
In her free time, Young, 36, can be found jotting notes in a coffee shop, painting with bright acrylics and cut-up paper for added texture, or drawing intricate pen-and-inks in black and white. Her pieces are driven by sentiment, each piece capturing a feeling. Raw emotions seem to exude from Young’s work, and that is how she likes it. She wrote herself a short poem to remind herself to create art honestly: “I vow to always live my life wide-open nothing hid within the recesses of my mind, where banished thoughts burrow and can do more damage after time.”
Her work is filled with messages, worries, hopes and dreams. She depicts joy, fear, confusion and her own beliefs. She creates portraits of dancers and musicians, a mother and child, a woman enjoying mocha, vague figures in “emotional rain” and herself in a piece called “Finding Balance.”
“It’s about finding balance,” she said, “see there – one hand is open and the other is closed.” Everything needs balance, she said – freedom and confinement, marriage, religion and almost every other aspect of a person’s life.
Young is motivated to find her own balance. She has a lot to say, but choosing the medium won’t be easy. “I write, paint and draw. I really should focus on just one.”
For now she is experimenting and learning as she goes. She has rarely shown her work but is ready to do so more often. A large oil drum that she has painted is on display at Area 58, 3036 N. Monroe St.
“In ‘All Forms of Love,’ my barrel, it was painted to send a message that everyone loves in different ways and that love is better than hate. I’ve always told my kids that I’d rather see two people love each other than one person hate them for it. So if my work can change that one person’s mind, then I’ve helped to make the world a better place.”