By Lynn Venhaus
A working artist who explores femininity in visuals ranging from collages to short films, Taylor Yocom is one to watch — and on the move, so it seems fitting that Lambert International Airport has displayed her art — an installation “My mom said to always have flowers around.”
Flowers are a focus, a fashion statement, and part of her signature style. Her recent 19-minute film, “These Flowers Are For You,” won Best Experimental Film at the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase in July, and is among the short films being screened at the St. Louis International Film Festival.
It has been doing well on the festival circuit. In fact, last week, her film screened in three places, from Iowa to Iceland — at the Flat Earth Film Festival in Iceland and the Des Moines Underground Film Festival in addition to SLIFF (Sunday, Nov. 12, 7:15 p.m., as part of the shorts program “Showcase I,” Alamo Drafthouse 3).
Describing it as her most ambitious film to date, it depicts Yocom’s experience of being matched as a bone marrow donor. She narrates her emotional journey and artistic process of grappling with the ethics of making work for, and about, a stranger.
Her previous short films touch on issues of femininity, the idea of craft and artistic labor amid a pandemic, and revisiting a project recollecting Maria Schneider’s sexual harassment on the set of “Last Tango in Paris” — “Just because!” – 3 minutes, which screened at the Citygarden; “Flowers/distance” – 8 minutes; “That floral wallpaper” – 13 minutes; and “In Paris, I tango for Maria (take 2) – 9 minutes.
The art at Lambert — in the Southwest Airlines Terminal, was on a 60-foot pink wall, and installed in April 2022.
Taylor was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and holds a BFA in Photography from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Visual Arts from Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.
Her work has been exhibited and screened in venues across North America, including Indie Memphis, FilmDiaryNYC, The Kansas Union Gallery, and the Montreal Feminist Film Festival. She has artist books and zines in collections across the country, including Rutgers University, the MOMA Library and Washington University. Her residencies include ArtFarm Nebraska and Internationale de Arts in Paris.
For more information, visit her website: www.tayloryo.com
Take Ten Q and A with Taylor Yocom
(Editor’s note: This was written during the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase last summer)
1. What is special about your latest project?
My latest film is about my journey of being matched as a bone marrow donor, the artistic documentation of that journey, and my own self reflection of the ethics of making work about a stranger. I was matched to donate to a woman who had leukemia like my maternal grandma that I never got to meet. Going through this process and making this film was an unexpected way to get closer to my mom and learn about her experience with her mother during her final days.
2. Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?
I am currently an artist and filmmaker working in photography, collage, fibers, and film. I always was “crafty” as a kid and started to really take art seriously when I navigated towards photography and art in college. I would spend Friday nights at my typewriter and stack of magazines, making collages, and would bring my film camera to parties. Taking classes for fun turned into a minor, which turned into a major, and then I went to grad school for my MFA in Visual Art at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.
3. How would your friends describe you?
Upbeat, always working on a project, most likely wearing a floral dress and talking about my cat too much.
4. How do you like to spend your spare time?
“I built my own loom and now enjoy weaving and watching ‘Sex and the City’ on repeat at my studio.
5. What is your current obsession?
This $7 bag of very good gummy bears I got on sale at Schnucks! On a more serious note, I’m diving into learning about jacquard weaving and just devoured the book “Thread Ripper” by Amalie Smith.
6. What would people be surprised to find out about you?
I was on the debate team in high school.
7. Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?
I was registering for classes during freshman year and thought “why not?” and took the last slot for an art class,
8. Who do you admire most?
Ah, so many! Within the arts I would definitely choose Moyra Davey, the filmmaker and artist. She has a very smart, poetic yet research-driven practice and lives in the art-writing-film world in an impactful way.
9. What is at the top of your bucket list?
Make a feature-length film.
10. How were you affected by the pandemic years, and anything you would like to share about what got you through and any lesson learned during the isolation periods? Any reflections on how the arts were affected? And what it means to move forward?
I was very privileged to be able to work from home during that time with minimal financial impact, so I want to acknowledge that not everyone had that luxury. As for the arts, for me, I took it as an opportunity to slow down and focus on the act of making. I think there was more of an appreciation for art-for-arts-sake and the power of beautiful and moving objects to create meaning in our lives.
11. What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?
I love getting lost in the galleries at SLAM and also visiting Moonshine the horse in Tower Grove Park.
12. What’s next?
I received a RAC grant to go to Vancouver to learn Jacquard weaving! I am working on patterns I’ve drawn that are based on floral patterns I’ve found in vintage periodicals at the Dowd Illustration Research Archive here. I’ll be making them into tapestries!
More About Taylor Yocom
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa
Current location: St. Louis:
Education: MFA in Visual Art at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, BFA in Photography from the University of Iowa
First movie you were involved in or made: In Paris, I tango for Maria (take 2) was my first short film
Favorite jobs/roles/plays or work in your medium? I love films by Agnes Varda.
Awards/Honors/Achievements: Bustle Upstart Awardee in 2016, Residency at Cite Internationale des Arts in 2018
Favorite quote/words to live by: Anything from Julia Cameron
A song that makes you happy: Dancing Queen by Abba
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.