Eli Young

Raised in the rural hamlet of Mirror, Alberta, Eli is a Canadian visual artist and multimedia creator working across constantly-shifting mediums. He has a specialised love and focus towards printmaking and digital inter-media explorations. While his creative flow is ever-evolving, his most recent works explore ideas of identity, humanity, gender relations, and processing major life events. Drawing from his personal history and experiences as a queer, trans creative living in an increasingly digital world, Young’s work takes a closer look at the relationship between identity and reality. With an interest in utilising digital technologies to re-explore traditional methods of art-making, he develops multiple levels of imagery that are often deeply symbolic. His work has been shown throughout Edmonton and across Alberta, with recent print and media exhibitions at SNAP and the U of A Sound Studies Institute. Eli has a BFA from the Universty of Alberta. Eli likes: lattes on rainy days, the smell of a fresh laser engraving, and gently used CDs from 2005. 

Artist Statement

Throughout my work in printmaking and digital intermedia, I have developed a practice of tech-collaboration as a means of accessibility and as a method to host larger conversations surrounding the relationship between tech and creative practices. Many of the themes I work with have to do with ideas of identity and expressing a unique sense of humanity that emerges from places of pain. Drawing upon these foundations, the big topics that my current series explores are Anxiety and Uncertainty towards the Future, the processing of Death, Loss and Grief, and the social relationships surrounding ideas of Gender and Sexuality. My series follows the narrative of a repressed gay man living in a fast-paced technological revolution, struggling to maintain his curated sense of identity (and his sanity) as he faces birth, death, addiction, grief and desire in his journey through The City. The story is a growing-up story about anxiety and fears. It explores the struggles, worries and realities that many young people face when growing into their adult selves. The concept is a reflection of my own struggles with anxiety and grief. It is an expression of the traumas I’ve been faced with throughout my life as a small-town queer, learning to process my own experiences of fear, loss, stigma and mental illness. The image-creation process for this series involved explorations of my personal photography alongside AI image generation facilitated by text and image-based prompts using the OpenAI program Dall.E. Staying true to my art practice, these images underwent several transformations from digital editing and adjustments to being laser-engraved into wood blocks before reaching their final format as relief prints. My exploratory use-of and collaboration with artificial intelligence reflects the conceptual questioning of reality and authenticity, the fear of un-reality and a reverence to the fast-paced changes of a new digital age. The imagery that I have developed is highly symbolic, with recurring “characters” that have emerged throughout the series’ production, including The Lamb, The Cherub, The Bat, The Towers, The Pigeon, and many more motifs that have come to represent significant parts of the protagonist’s (and my own) physical and emotional journey. While my work is very personal, it draws from feelings and experiences that are at their core – deeply human. Fear, Desire, Pain, Love, Loss, Death and Grief. While the work may offer a glimpse into my own experiences, I believe it better reflects something much bigger than us all. Developing the imagery and narrative of this series has not only allowed me the space to process some of the most difficult emotions to face, but offers a hand out for others to take, to relate to and share in the unique humanity of our tragic, romantic and terrifying lives.

Chapter 2, 30×40”, Woodcut print, 2023

Young Professional, 8×12”, woodcut print, 2023

Domestic bird, 8×12”,woodcut print, 2023

Chapter 4, 30×40”, woodcut print, 2023

Chapter 4 (detail), 30×40”, woodcut print, 2023

ig: @eli.young.art