The art of Caroline R. Young focuses on interpreting the drama, romance, and magic of the mythology and history of ancient China and Japan. She was born in Hong Kong and moved to Hawaii to attend the University of Hawaii, majoring in French. She met Lam Oi Char, a powerful mentor who inspired her to change her major to art and then to become a professional. In 1978 Ms. Young went public for the first time, as many young Hawaiian artists did, by exhibiting on the fence at the Honolulu Zoo on “Art Sundays.” In 1983, she painted a series of Japanese women in traditional dress, with flowing colors which caught the interest of Images International of Hawaii, who became her publisher. Much of her work from this period concentrates on figures of Japanese women, traditional “beauty pictures” – reclining, pensive, thoughtful ladies draped in fine kimonos and offset by lotus and cherry blossoms. Ms. Young was often called the “female counterpart of Otsuka”, a well known male Japanese silk painter; but whereas he prefers the kipula, the inner lining of the kimono, she paints on raw silk.
In the late 1980’s inspired by the feature film “The Last Emperor”, Ms. Young renewed her interest in her Chinese heritage and decided to focus on a series of portraits of Chinese historical and legendary subjects. Her first was the 17th Century Emperor Chien Lung, the China Dynasty’s longest reigning monarch, who is remembered as a great art patron. The move to Chinese figures turned out to be THE major breakthrough of her artistic career. Paintings of the Manchurian Emperor and Empress were acclaimed by critics and proved so popular that they were among the first of her works to be published as limited edition prints.After 20 years as a professional painter, Caroline Young today is known for her soft, lyrical brushwork and graceful composition. Her work creates a mystique, drama, and harmony expressed in the ancient Oriental tradition illustrating legends from the past. Recognized as the leading contemporary interpreter of Chinese Historical themes, she brings her subjects to life with mixed-media imagery based on vibrant watercolors and acrylics, accented with iridescent paints and metallic foils. Each painting is firmly grounded in hours of research on historical tales, mythology, and costume.
She is also a woman with a mission. “My goal is to impart the culture and history of my Chinese heritage through my art,” she says. “Because of everything I have learned during the research for my paintings, I have developed a fierce pride and healthy respect for all those who came before me centuries and millennium ago.”“I paint as much for the general public of all races as for the many Chinese-Americans who have lost a part of their cultural identity through assimilation into mainstream American culture,” she adds. “But I know that the latter know more about Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella than they do the Cowherd and the Weaving Maiden or Chang Er. It is immensely gratifying to me whenever a Chinese-American client, upon hearing the stories associated with the different images, thanks me for reconnecting them with their cultural heritage.”Ms. Young is on a constant exploration to seek the essence of the Chinese soul. This lifelong quest has led her art to a variety of directions. She has done a series of children on paper and silk and is currently creating “Children of the Chinese Zodiac” with images of boys and girls with each of the signs. Her latest release is a series of 8”x10” original on rice paper using a faster, more impressionistic method. “There is much of me in everything you see,” she says. “The people in my works – even the flowers, the birds, and the sense of balance are a kind of personal reflection mixed with reverie. My art comes from within.” The result is an intuitive blending of grace, elegance, and a quality of peacefulness that appeal to viewers from every cultural background. Her artwork appeals to our sensitivity for beauty, to our love for a good story, to our curiosity about those who came before us, those who grew old in cultures older than our own.Her success in bringing China’s ancient culture to life for second, third, and fourth generation Chinese Americans has been recognized by a number of awards. Ms. Young’s paintings are shown in galleries throughout the United States, and are on permanent display at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California and the Pacific Asian Museum in Pasadena, California. She has also been featured on the critically acclaimed PBS series, Spectrum.