Conversation with Elizabeth Youngblood


Name:  Elizabeth Youngblood

Where are you from?  Detroit—born and raised.

How long have you been here?  Back for the 17 th year this September

How long have you been working as an artist: Always, it seems. I had a Mom that was creative herself and she was encouraging me for as long as I can remember.

What is your preferred medium? I guess there are two for me, fiber and clay.

What is currently your favorite:


Work of Art: No favorite. Love many: Twombly, Puryear (though he’s a jerk), Rothko, Hesse, etc.

Piece of advice: “Know yourself before they tell you who you are.”

Place you have travelled? France-all of it.

  Do you collect anything? Yes. My cats’ naturally shed whiskers. The collection now includes whiskers from as least five cats. Maybe more. The whiskers make quite a lovely line. I’m holding out for a way to use them in a piece. Less consistently, I accumulate: yarn/thread, small boxes, lovely fabrics, lovely, interesting things in general. It’s difficult…sigh…

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist? I don’t really know. It’s always been there in some form.

Was there an artist you admired that inspired you to be an artist yourself? No. Not a known artist. It was more my Mother’s permission and approval, a family of makers and the evident appreciation for what they made. After that, good fortune and fortuitous placement in history. In another time, following this path would have been far more costly to impossible.

Can you speak to the theme of Silence or Quiet in this work and how it is

incorporated into the exhibition? There’s much to be discovered in the absences; of sound, visual stimuli, even food. I’m interested in the focus on what’s present when the snap perception is that there is nothing there.

 Where are you finding inspiration lately? In the materials I’ve been working with. 

Is there a single habit that you strongly believe contributes to your success as an artist? I think nothing tops butt-in- the-chair- time. Finding the way to work means a lot.

How do you feel about the art community in Detroit?  I’d say there are several (if not many) art communities in Detroit. I’d like to see them mingle and merge more often. But I’d say it’s healthy and very vibrant.

How does it differ from other places you have lived and exhibited? When I lived elsewhere my art practice was not as a professional. So I really can’t make a comparison. Here, now, I see my art practice as professional and full-time.

What are you looking forward to most about the upcoming exhibition? The public response to the new work. This will be an audience who’s less familiar with my work so I’m interested to see how it’s received.

What one item would you grab if your house were on fire? Most likely as many of my pets as I could.

Have you learned anything from this collaboration that has resonated with you? 
Yes. When I see how Carla works, it makes me see that there are people out there with whom one can work. You just have to find them.