Season of the Surreal is timed to coincide with Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday during which people gather to pray for and remember loved ones who have died.
Though Youngquist was working with beading before she ever traveled to Santa Fe, she came here for the first time when she was in her twenties — penniless, putting nearly everything on credit cards — and then returned for seven consecutive years. She started selling some of her beaded flatware at Doodlet’s, the funky-folkloric store on Water Street, and found a sense of artistic community by visiting the local museums, where curators seemed to embrace as fine art the same things that had been dismissed as “craft” back home. She hadn’t intended, in her beading, to copy indigenous art of the Southwest, which she’d never seen close-up or in any quantity, but she was pleased to find a personal aesthetic connection to Native artists. A similar thing happened with the series.
“After the three pieces in this series were created, it was brought to my attention that I was creating versions of Beaivi,” a Scandinavian sun deity, Youngquist said. “In Sami myth, she travels with her daughter Beaivi-nieida through the sky in an enclosure covered by reindeer bones, bringing green plants back to the winter earth for the reindeer to eat, and she is associated with fertility in plants and animals. She was also called upon to restore the mental health of those who went insane because of the continual darkness of the long winter.”
Youngquist said the Day of the Dead theme proposed by Patina Gallery was ideal, as one of the pieces she wanted to finish in time for the show was a crow that encompasses the feelings she and her partner, Scott Long, have around the death of their Siberian Husky, Chaco. Chaco died in May 2018, crossing to the other side in the backyard after a long season of illness. While he lay dying, two baby crows were being raised in the yard by their mother, which Youngquist said was unusual. “We get plenty of baby birds, but rarely are they crows.”
The finished represents Chaco’s memory figuratively — in its form as a crow — as well as literally. Long, who creates the sculptural body forms for Youngquist’s pieces, left a void in the chest that they filled with a copper tube, inside of which is a vial of Chaco’s ashes and some of his fur.
“Chaco was my heart,” she said. “To me, the piece is the heart of the show.”