Rana Young


Rana Young is an artist and educator based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Rana holds an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where she was an Othmer Fellow and a BFA in Studio Art from Portland State University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, as well as published online by Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, British Journal of Photography, and Strange Fire Collective, among others. Through her photographs, she investigates such concepts as loss, intimacy, identity, and voyeurism. Recently, Rana was selected as a winner of Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 2018 and LensCulture’s 2017 Emerging Talent Awards. Rana co-founded PHOTO–EMPHASIS, an online platform for highlighting contemporary works made by photography educators, students, and practitioners, with Alec Kaus in June 2017.


The Rug’s Topography

“The Rug’s Topography” began with me photographing my intimate partner of six years. Simultaneously, we were facing an internal conflict: how we identified as individuals differed from the roles we occupied in our partnership. Collaborating visually to express our reflections served as a catalyst for the reconciling of our emotional intimacy in the midst of separation. It is through the juxtaposition of gaze and gesture we create blended self-portraits, expressing our emotions in relation to who we were and who we’ll become.

My photographs balance organic intimacy and cinematic theatricality by employing themes of tension, voyeurism, and transition to represent an interpretation of self. Using a directorial approach and a single subject allows me to create an environment that transforms viewer into voyeur. The singular vantage point and lack of reciprocal gaze invites one to silently observe an unfolding narrative. Transition within this work is highlighted through the notions of gender and time. Though the viewer is privy to feminine interventions placed upon the male figure, faint physical changes sequentially manifest in the subject. Rigid musculature and posture is overcome by delicate and poetic gestures; the manicuring of body also becomes a form of sublimation. The ambient photographs, which signify fleeting moments, mark points of personal evolution. Emphasis is placed on the threshold between public and private, as well as the implied or literal mirror embodying introspection. Life comprises moments navigating both the literal and psychological space; my intention is to render that dichotomy.

To view more of Rana Young’s work please visit her website.