Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, November 17, 2005





Crafty: Gut Feeling

ASU sculptor creates art from entrails

 by Gabriel Trujillo
 published on Thursday, November 17, 2005

She looks sweet, but Allison Young isn't afraid to get her hands dirty -- and bloody. It's all for her art, of course. Here she stands with one of the sculptures she created out of cow guts./issues/arts/694956
She looks sweet, but Allison Young isn't afraid to get her hands dirty -- and bloody. It's all for her art, of course. Here she stands with one of the sculptures she created out of cow guts.


Allison Young walks down the aisle of the supermarket and heads toward the meat department. She stops and looks through the spare ribs, T-bone steaks and pork chops, but they aren't what she is looking for.

Finally she comes across what she needs: cow guts. But the slime-covered insides aren't for her next meal; they're for her next masterpiece.

Young, 25, is a graduate art student who uses various materials for her sculptures. She says one of the most grotesque materials she uses is tripe, or cow guts.

"It [cow guts] is really beautiful when it dries," she says. "The skin-like texture makes for some interesting pieces."

She says she got the idea while walking through a supermarket in Texas, her home state. Young says she experimented with the guts before she found a consistency that was best for her art. She says she has the most luck working with the guts after they dry.

Using a paintbrush, Young says she spreads the guts across the canvas and lets them dry. The results have a chunky, peach-colored texture, and Young says it is the perfect material for her abstract pieces.

And what about the extra cow guts? Young says they float inside a jar with lemon juice in a refrigerator at the Art Building.

"Tripe is still considered food," says Young with a chuckle. "But the other students don't appreciate the rotten smell."

Young initially attended college to pursue a career as a veterinarian, but one art class changed her ambitions.

"I took a sculpture class as an elective and I didn't know anything about making sculptures," she says. "The first time I put my hands in the clay, I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."

Now that Young is following an art career, she says she is always thinking about her next piece.

"If I am just sitting on a bench outside, I'll stare at the buildings and look at the way the windows are arranged," says Young. "Anything I see can inspire me."

Some of the materials Young uses for her artwork include steel, marble, latex and rubber. She says using different materials and substances makes her work more interesting. Once she chooses a material, she experiments with it to see how it looks. Young says each item she uses has a distinct image and emotion.

"All of my work has to do with feelings I am trying to evoke in my audience," says Young. "If I want to make people feel gross and uncomfortable, then I will use grotesque stuff."

While working with cow guts doesn't require too much caution, Young says certain things are too dangerous to work with without the proper training. For example, she first learned how to weld before creating artwork with steel.

"It is very important to know how my materials work so I can make the best art possible," says Young. "It also keeps me from severely burning myself."

For her messier projects, Young works inside her studio at ASU. Her workspace is littered with various materials, from a pile of used latex to a stack of wood.

"I am more of a home person, so I prefer to take my art home," says Young. "I guess it's because I like to be comfortable when I do my work."

Young says it takes two to three weeks to complete her smaller pieces, while it takes two months for the larger ones. After her work is finished, Young says she leaves complete interpretation to her audience.

"I give a lot of credit to my viewers," she says. "I am not going to tell them what to see. They should be able to look at a piece of work and have their own opinion. That is the whole point to art."

Young is preparing for her thesis show in March, but says she will continue her art career after graduation.

"I didn't want to be stuck doing something I don't enjoy," says Young. "And when I am doing art, I am the happiest person in the world."

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