Lauren YS is an LA-based street artist who paints murals of femme characters afloat within self-contained galaxies. Often encapsulated in bottles like ship miniatures, these women appear alongside elements that cull from disparate sources of inspiration, such as freak shows, animal-related folklore, and witchcraft.
洛杉矶街头艺术家 Lauren YS 的壁画作品描绘了许多漂浮在空中的女孩，并将她们置身于奇思妙想的独立星系。这些女孩常常封装于比身体大一些的玻璃瓶中，发射并通往未知的境地。她的作品通常裹挟着形形色色的灵感源泉：动物民间传说、巫术、纹身等等。
YoungSmith (which is what the YS stands for) is a wanderer, collecting motifs from different cultures and incorporating them into murals while painting across the globe. “I love freehanding murals because there’s an opportunity for the piece to change organically and reflect some of the experience or landscape of the location I’m painting in,” they say. “My process is very experiential. I love being able to add little details or narrative elements, things I hadn’t planned prior. I have a very porous brain—the things around me tend to bleed into my work uncontrollably.”
Youngsmith also includes plenty of nods to their Chinese heritage in their art, which has recently included stories their late grandmother shared with them. In one piece, objects that they remember from their grandmother’s house are paired with an alien language designed in the likeness of Mandarin Chinese. “I was raised mainly by a single mother and my grandmother, my popo,” YoungSmith says. “We lost her recently and the grief I went through was accompanied by an intense feeling of untethering from my culture. ‘If I no longer have any palpable link to China, am I still Chinese?’”
One major element in Youngsmith’s work, the bottled women, is perhaps the most obvious China-inspired elements of their art: the recurring motif has roots in Chinese snake wine. After a trip home to China, they learned about the medicinal beverage, which can still be found in many wet markets. Each bottle is typically sold with an entire snake preserved in the high-proof booze. “I became obsessed,” YoungSmith laughs. The bottles have evolved to symbolize the spaces they associates with safety in the real world as well as the invisible confines of their inner world. “I’ve always found peace in enclosed spaces; be it a room, a car, or my mind,” Youngsmith says. “The world of an artist is often born from safe little worlds within other worlds.” And with their murals, these bottles became a framing device for their intricate compositions.
“瓶装女孩” 是艺术家 Lauren YS 在作品中最常见的主题，而这个主题的灵感却源于中国蛇酒。在一次中国之行，她初次见识了用蛇浸泡的酒，这是一种在菜市场中可以找到的传统中药，在高浓度的烈酒中，泡存着一整条蛇。 “蛇酒让我觉得很着迷。” YoungSmith 笑着说。她将这些瓶子视为在现实世界中的安全空间以及她内心世界的无形边界。她说：“呆在封闭的空间能让我心情平静；无论是房间、汽车或是我的内心。一个艺术家的世界往往是存在于其他世界中的另一个充满安全感的小世界。”在她的壁画中，这些瓶子成为了精繁复杂的画框。
The characters Youngsmith paints are nearly exclusively women, or at least partially women—oftentimes, they’re hybrid creatures who are mixed with animal or other entities: “I don’t like being pigeonholed as a ‘femme artist,’ but I can’t ignore the importance the femme experience plays in my identity and place in the world. I’ve always made work that is sort of diaristic, and it would be remiss of me not to discuss women in my work. It’s also extremely important to me to promote the representation of women who are not ‘perfect’ the way the media often touts.”
All of this—the ideas of identity, exploration, and family—is pulled together with a thoroughly Western aesthetic that marries cartoons, comics, and street art. YoungSmith’s broad-themed ideas are all communicated in a fun, globally understandable visual vernacular, building off cultural history and continuing them through contemporary ideas. Youngsmith’s paintings have an instant appeal but also a staying power, catching a viewer’s eye quickly and holding it.