Dr. Allison K. Young is Assistant Professor of Art History at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her scholarship focuses mainly on contemporary artists and art histories of the global South and African diaspora, and on issues surrounding migration, transnationalism, and social justice. Young’s writing has been published in platforms such as Art Journal, British Art Studies, International Review of African American Art, Slavery & Abolition, and Artforum, in addition to numerous anthologies and exhibition catalogues. She has been a Contributing Editor for Smarthistory since 2014, and before joining LSU held a position as Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Contemporary Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art, where she curated and published an exhibition catalogue for Lina Iris Viktor: A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred.
Paper Trails: On Art and History in Plantationocene Louisiana examines contemporary art, public history, and visual culture in Louisiana through the lens of the Plantationocene—a framework that places colonial, racial and environmental (in)justice at the heart of climate discourse, and which understands the extractive logics of the Middle Passage and petrochemical industries as deeply intertwined. This book project in development will focus on such issues through the lens of place-based materiality, analyzing the works of Louisiana-based contemporary artists who utilize symbolically-charged matter and potent imagery—swamp rattan and sugar bagasse, monument plinths and petrochemical run-off, crawfish mounds, soil, and the extracted scent of flood-damaged heirlooms—that serve as indexical traces of a disappearing landscape while shedding light on the fragility of Louisiana’s collective past and future. Considering works of art in connection to public history initiatives, from Paper Monuments and the Decolonized Walk of Bulbancha to the Slave Rebellion Reenactment and Whitney Plantation, Paper Trails parses the complexity of public memory and preservation efforts against the backdrop of grassroots activism, social change, and environmental precarity.