Artist Spotlight: Brent Yingling

The 2016 University of Pittsburgh’s Sociology Journal Cover, watercolors and digital / Courtesy of Brent Yingling

Although he fell in love with art early in high school, Brent Yingling strayed away from it as a Pitt underclassman to pursue a more practical career in law.

It wasn’t until he started doing research with Delanie Jenkins, the head of the studio arts department, that he rediscovered his passion. Yingling helped Jenkins prep materials by cutting and moving thousands of pieces of tape for a collection of her work at the time that was centered around tape — and he was re-hooked.

“Within one month of working with Jenkins, I was back in the art department already,” Yingling said.

Since returning to his roots as an artist, Yingling, a senior studio arts major, has worked with and formed creative connections with numerous other professors in the studio arts department. He’s built a portfolio based on personal experience, cultural and political statements and installation art that pushes the boundaries of comfort.

In the senior art show last year, five faculty members selected Yingling as a junior to showcase six different pieces of his work in the show. For these works, he won three scholarships.

Several of Yingling’s installations have been on display in The Vault viewing space in the Frick Fine Arts Building, and he completed Pitt’s prestigious two-and-a-half-week artist residency, The Wyoming Field Study, in the Spring Creek Reserve this past summer. Today, he has a piece in Hillman Library’s AJ Schneider Reading Room: a tapestry called “45 seconds” that illustrates pig slaughters every 45 seconds worldwide.

“I try and set up spaces that allow people to come and have their own experience within the confines I set up,” Yingling said about his installations. His work is generally subversive and sends strong messages to the audience.

Yingling predominantly grew up surrounded by nature, which is displayed in many of his personal, reflective works where he uses found materials including wood, bones and rocks. As a rape survivor, Yingling frequently engages with the socio-political pieces, depicting his own experience with sexual assault.

“[The prints dealing with rape] are a visual representation of my experience and a way to get that conversation started,” Yingling explained.

Originally, Yingling planned to take a few years off and travel after Pitt. Now, he will stay in Pittsburgh for another year to focus on his art before going to graduate school — possibly at the University of Colorado Boulder — where he plans to receive his Master’s degree in interdisciplinary or sculpture art.

To look at Yingling’s work and read about it, click the first photo to open up a captioned slide show.

Performance at Phipps, “Vines in the Stream,” two-person wearable made of vines and willow tree branches — investigation of our collaboration of movements within the constraints of the braided materials

“This piece was a collaboration between me and a Carnegie Mellon student over the last few weeks for our eco-art class. We had to go to Phipps and create a piece based off of our experience in the space.”more

“[The duo needed to create a more family-friendly piece than the realistic looking heart model they’d originally created] so we made this piece in the last 48 hours. It was really just made to examine how our bodies move with one another.”more
Edition of Prints, “Untitled,” Intaglio Prints

“I made these last year as a result of becoming more confident talking about my experience as a rape survivor after working with my professor Lenore Thomas. They’re a visual representation of my experience and a way to get that conversation started.”more

“Meditations,” 40×40 in., paper, graphite and ink

“When I’m typically making political work or work about rape, I always have a line of work going on the other side that’s kind of meditative and aesthetic-based. It’s just a repetitive process that I do over and over so that I can focus when I’m delving into other things that are difficult.”more

“45 seconds,” digital print — a visual representation of the amount of pigs slaughtered every 45 seconds worldwide

“I have this series of projects that I do in installations where I cover entire rooms, walls, ceilings and floors with a texturing made out of images of piles of dead pigs that I found from different slaughterhouses. They’re collaged together — one next to the other next to the other —and they kind of create this beautiful tapestry that from a distance is really stunning, but when you’re up close, you realize that it’s just piles of dead pigs. It’s really just a way of putting numbers into images so that people can see the sheer number in comparison to time of how much meat is consumed and how many living things are killed for that.”more

Study of Pine,” pine wood and bark — an examination of the layers of the Self represented in wood from my childhood home

“I grew up predominantly in nature — being surrounded by nature — so a lot of my work uses natural materials, and that’s probably why my main chunk of work is focused on investigating both my own and human’s relationship with nature. That for me was a way of rebuilding a space that I felt safe, which was the woods, in an indoor space and then giving that space over to other people to enter and have experiences.”more

“Cycles of Treatment,” plaster and steel rod

“This was one of the very first projects I made here at the University of Pittsburgh. We had to take an item — mine being pill bottles — and cast them, then make replicas and somehow make a sculpture out of those. At the time, I was realizing how many of my friends and how many people on campus and to some degree myself become dependent on certain substances as students — well, not even substances but that stress that college gives to people. I started to realize how many of my friends were quickly having to get on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications just because of college and the stress it causes people, so I made this piece as a result of that.”more

The 2016 University of Pittsburgh’s Sociology Journal Cover, watercolors and digital

“Pitt’s Sociology Club needed a cover done last year, and they asked me to design it. They gave me a couple words that they thought were relatable, and they really left the content up to me. I thought about what sociology was, which is the study between people’s interactions on a social level, and just decided to make two people facing one another.”more

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