Part of a series, this drawing mimics divination through the casting of bones. When exploring Richmond, Virginia, the artist learned of a train tunnel construction project in the 1900s. Engineered to avoid diverting train tracks around the city by passing through a hill, the tunnel collapsed in the midst of its construction. The workers on the project were trapped. The details of the story vary from person to person—some said there were three or four workers, all Black men; others said an entire segregated Black train car was stuck in the tunnel. The city was unable to rescue those trapped within; they sealed the tunnel, creating a grave. To create this drawing series, the artist used dirt he collected from the site of the collapsed tunnel. For Young, using this material evokes a process of disappearing—a void or the loss of identity between two names and places.
Bones are a recurring motif in the artist's work. For Young, they often evoke a family story about his great-grandfather migrating from the South to the North in the early 1900s. This drawing depicts horse bones, echoing the animal that carried the artist's ancestor on his journey—a translation of a family myth through the artist's own experience, body and memory.
② Represented by:
Nate Young’s meticulously hand-crafted multimedia works engage with issues of race and racialization while challenging traditional modes of artistic production. He explores theological themes, especially the systems and objects that shape our beliefs, through found text, diagrams and architectural elements. Young strips away all specific content from these sources, leaving a universal lexicon of primordial signs that strongly suggest meaning without conveying it—a profound void, at once empty and full.