Boat People

 

Young sketched and painted countless seascapes, incorporating overcrowded boats, sharks and dramatic skies. “I’ve been looking at this ocean all my life. And it’s hard for me to go to other parts of America and love it, because I love the ocean…I’ve been around the ocean and I’ve never been in the ocean. I paint some part of the ocean, but I’ve never been out there in the ocean.”

In the early twentieth century, the largest influx of immigrants settling in Miami were Bahamian, including Young’s grandmother. Stories about immigrants and refugee boats arriving, being turned away, or capsizing near Florida’s shores and elsewhere were a constant in Young’s life. He felt a deep connection to these people and lamented their unfair treatment by the U.S. government. “The white man don’t want black folks to come. So I always wonder: Would the white man get concerned about white folks coming to America?” Visible in many of these paintings are the dorsal fins of sharks as they circle the boats. Angels appear less often.

 

All works Untitled and ca. 1980-1999

 

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