February 5, 2023

Tara Youngborg: By Design

The University of Mary Washington Galleries will host two opening receptions next week—Museums as Viewing Machines: Work by Jeffrey Abt and the UMW Studio Art Faculty Exhibition.

Meet Tara Youngborg, the exhibition coordinator who has worked behind the scenes to make the latest installations at Ridderhof Martin and duPont Galleries a reality. Tara Youngborg, exhibition coordinator for UMW Galleries.

Tara Youngborg, exhibition coordinator for UMW Galleries.Youngborg’s role is wide-ranging. She contacts artists and museums, oversees delivery of artwork and figures out how to install it all. She’s also responsible for getting the word out about UMW Galleries’ upcoming exhibits, from designing postcards to writing press releases.  She gives gallery tours, works with UMW students and is an artist in her own right.

Q: When and how did you fall in love with art?
A: I fell in love slowly, like a friend. I loved building and making things as a kid, and I definitely drew enough and took enough art classes to get labeled as “arty.” In college, I found a really expanded definition of what art could be, from building sculptures to making videos or web pages. I loved the freedom those definitions gave me in expression and creation.

Q: What did you do before you came to UMW?
A: I worked at Bowdoin College in Maine overseeing the entire art building, which included running the woodshop and other studios, working one-on-one with students to troubleshoot their art projects, and of course, overseeing exhibitions.

Q: What do you like most about your role as exhibition coordinator?
A: Working with students, for sure. The opportunity to bring the Galleries and collection into the classroom and collaborate with students is always wonderful, and what keeps exhibitions fresh and interesting.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: It’s satisfying when a new exhibition opens, but there is always the chaos of the last day when you aren’t sure if it’s going to come together in time. I definitely get my workouts in just from running around during install week.

Q: Any exhibit at UMW Galleries that has really spoken to you?
A: Our most recent exhibition at the Ridderhof Martin Gallery, Lost Stories, Found Images: Portraits of Jews in Wartime Amsterdam by Annemie Wolff, was an extremely powerful exhibition that was also didactic and rooted in history. We were the only space on the East Coast to show that group of photographs, and I feel so lucky that I saw those photos and read the stories.

Q: Can you tell us about your own artwork?
A: I primarily make digital work. That includes videos, gifs, and interactive websites. I use photos and videos from my childhood, along with the bodies of water I have visited, and use programming to glitch, pixelate, or combine them, like distorted memories that bleed into each other.

An example of Youngborg's artwork. She built a few wooden cubes, traced coastlines of some of the places she has lived, and projected her video memories into these bodies of water.

An example of Youngborg’s artwork. She built a few wooden cubes, traced coastlines of some of the places she has lived, and projected her video memories into these bodies of water.

This past spring, during a residency, I built a few wooden cubes, traced the coastlines of some of the places I have lived, and projected my video memories into these bodies of water.

Q: Do you have a mantra that you live by?
A: Keep failing better! As an artist, and as someone who has to do a fair amount of technical work in my job, failure is inevitable. It’s important to take each failure and learn from it. I also want to reassure students that it’s OK to make mistakes and learn from them!