DC Commissioned Artist

Brenna Youngblood

I AM/ I AM Park


Brenna Youngblood graduated with an MFA in studio art from UCLA. Her early works were photo-based collage, one of which can be seen in the current Getty exhibition Photo Flux. Always interested in the dimensionality of ideas and objects, particularly how they manifest and morph in the lived realities of her family and community, Youngblood’s sculptural works emphasize the relationship between material and meaning.

DC Featured Art

"I AM"

Rendering of “I AM” at I AM Park by Perkins & Will
Her sculpture I AM evolved from an earlier work that imagined children’s building blocks scaled up to resemble a jungle gym. The significance of the blocks that read M.I.A. alluded to those missing in action from the community due to violence, addiction and erasure by oppressive systems that often begin in childhood (i.e. the cradle to prison pipeline in Black communities). Youngblood wanted to investigate what it means to have injustice and the unseen as the infrastructure of children’s understanding and how human interaction – the body engaging the sculpture – begins to fill in the negative space of loss, denial and inequity.
Youngblood’s artistic contribution to Destination Crenshaw recognizes the creativity, vitality and innovations that grow out of this strong Black community where every child has the opportunity to grow into the fullness of themselves. After moving her home and studio to Crenshaw, a neighborhood where she visited as a child growing up in Riverside, Youngblood recontextualized the idea of the M.I.A. sculpture to consider the power of play and possibility by reordering the letters into I AM. Still focused on centering physical engagement as a potent source of visual literacy and understanding, I AM speaks to a recognition of one’s own power to name and know. I AM as a concept also signifies the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike where workers marched with I AM A MAN placards, a declaration that would become a rallying cry of the Civil Rights movements and other counternarrative resistance movements that demand to be seen as human beings with agency.

Other Works