Mimi Young (Instagram: @mimi_young) is an artist who is based in the mid-Hudson Valley region, just north of New York City. We first met her and took a look of one of her older, site-specific, constructed-in-the-landscape works in brutjournal’s September 2022 issue.

Now we’re catching up with her again on the occasion of the presentation of The Shape of Play, a guest-artist introduction of her paintings, mixed-media works on paper, and mixed-media assemblage objects that is now on view at Pinkwater Gallery in Kingston, New York (through July 24).

Checking in from time to time with artists whose work and activities we’ve already begun to examine is a regular brutjournal practice, one that allows readers to get to know the broader scope of a creative person’s ideas, experiments, and of his or her ongoing exploration of art-making materials and techniques.

Mimi Young, “Stick + Stone 4,” 2022, collage and mixed media on paper, 18 x 22 inches (45.72 x 55.88 centimeters). Photo by Bill Westmoreland

brutjournal: Remind us about your background training and experience as an artist. You’re well known in the New York fashion world as someone who has worked as a stylist for many years but did you formally study art?

Mimi Young: I studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, from which I earned bachelor of fine arts degree with a concentration in drawing. At Pratt, I also took numerous photography and animation classes. At that time, it was all film and hand-derived animation — nothing [digital or] computerized, like today. I also studied ceramics at La Mano Pottery in New York from around 2013 to 2017. Later, after moving from New York to the Hudson Valley, I took up making ceramics again but I stopped when the COVID crisis began. 

The artist Mimi Young at Pinkwater Gallery in Kingston, New York, where her solo exhibition The Shape of Play is now on view (through July 24, 2023). Photo by Bill Westmoreland

brutjournal: Have you always made art, even when you were working in the fashion world? 

Mimi Young: After graduating from Pratt, I quickly started working in fashion, which I found to be a great source of material to use in my art-making. I continued painting and drawing, and I also began carving stone sculptures. Sometimes, I’d bring my art supplies with me [when going somewhere for] a fashion shoot. In the past, I traveled quite a bit but I felt frustrated that I wasn’t able to completely explore what I was creating as an artist.

Mimi Young, “S + S (non-fiction) 3,” 2023, mixed media on paper, 14 x 12 inches (35.56 x 30.48 centimeters). Photo by Bill Westmoreland

brutjournal: When did you start making the abstract works you’re now presenting at Pinkwater Gallery (Instagram: @pinkwatergallery)? 

Mimi Young: I’ve always seesawed between an abstract-representative approach and more pure abstraction. In my work, there are references to my environment but they’re not always abstracted. I’ve been developing the works that are now on view at Pinkwater Gallery over the past year. We also selected some older ceramic pieces of mine from 2016 that seem to fall into a dialog with the newer works.

Mimi Young, “Sticks + Stones,” 2022, acrylic, graphite, and charcoal on Yupo paper, 60 x 48 inches (152.4 x 121.92 centimeters). Photo by Bill Westmoreland

brutjournal: What are some of the interests, observations, or ideas of yours from which these newer works have emerged? It’s often interesting to find out what inspires an artist to create a particular work or group of works, or to explore certain themes, materials, or techniques.

Mimi Young: Most of the new works developed through my observation of how objects can be layered — for example, through their placement in space and in relationship with each other. In this process of layering, there is a certain amount of what I’m working with that remains unseen. With this in mind, the notion of something hiding in plain sight is one that has become a common theme of some of my newer works. I’m also very interested in how disparate objects may relate to each other, whether we’re talking about, say, knives on the kitchen counter next to a shopping list or rocks lying next to a batch of roses.

Mimi Young, “Stick + Stone 16,” 2022, collage and mixed media on Yupo paper, 14 x 19.25 inches (35.56 x 48.9 centimeters). Photo by Bill Westmoreland

[We also spoke with Anne Sanger, Pinkwater Gallery’s founder and director. Sanger is an artist who makes paintings, drawings, and collage works. Prior to opening her gallery in 2019 in Kingston, New York, on the west side of the Hudson River, Sanger, whose background is in fashion design and illustration, had worked as a consultant advising various companies on the use of technology in the development of their products.

Sanger observed, “Just two hours away from New York City, the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions are rich in artistic talent, with a thriving art scene. We’re proud to show, for example, work by several instructors from the nearby Woodstock School of Art. Mimi’s work dovetails nicely with Pinkwater Gallery’s mission of elevating women’s artistic voices, yet her art is a departure of sorts from some of the programming we’ve presented to date. The sense of play in Mimi’s work is really compelling and has drawn people in off the street. Her background as a fashion stylist is attractive to me, given that I worked in that industry for many years, but it also brings an element to her work that is a bit more edgy and of the moment.”]

brutjournal: Are there any artists whose spare, minimalist, abstract works might have influenced your thinking or art-making methods? Or what about certain objects, materials, or scenes that you might have observed and that might have inspired you in some way?

Mimi Young: I’m constantly taking swipes or screen grabs  of interesting examples of fashion, nature, art, or design, and shifting my visual field. At the moment, I’m particularly interested in the shapes of sticks!

brutjournal: Tell us a bit about how you make your art. Are you very disciplined and do you spend a certain amount of time in your studio every day or are you a more spontaneous, impulsive kind of art-maker who starts playing around with materials and forms when certain ideas strike you? 

Mimi Young: I approach my studio practice in a pretty disciplined manner but with no set of rules; this allows me to be a bit chaotic, approaching my work with a plan that is actually is a no-plan plan. I tend to deliberately shun my ideas and techniques. I’m in the studio most days. 

Mimi Young, “Core Project Aqua,” 2022, mixed media, 7 x 5.5 x 2 inches (17.78 x 13.97 x 5.08 centimeters). Photo by Bill Westmoreland

brutjournal: Do you regard the works that are now on view at Pinkwater Gallery as somehow expressing certain particular thematic concerns?

Mimi Young: Yes. In them, a certain sense of immediacy and rawness are conveyed, and it may feel as though a certain sense of history is being exposed, too. As I mentioned earlier, in my  new works, the theme of something hiding in plain sight plays a notable role. This idea relates to many things in my art and in my world, including myself. Also, I’m compulsive about deleting and erasing. Some of the new paintings are about building, which is a new theme for me.

brutjournal: Your current presentation at Pinkwater Gallery offers an opportunity to show recently completed, thematically or technically related creations, as well as to hint at the directions in which your thinking and art-making might be heading.

Mimi Young: Yes, and with that in mind, in this selection of recent works, I have a couple of small, wall-hung sculptures from a group called “Core Project.” I’ve been grouping them together into ephemeral installations assembled in my studio; sometimes I document them for future reference and sometimes I don’t!

Two recent works by Mimi Young: left, “S + S (non-fiction) 2,” 2023, mixed media, 14 x 12 inches (35.56 x 30.48 centimeters; right, “Sticks 13,” 2023, acrylic and graphite on paper, 28 x 22 inches (71.12 x 55.88 centimeters). Photos courtesy of Pinkwater Gallery