Beauty by Brush
Over the past twenty years illustrator, painter and designer Ursula Xanthe Young has become known for her unique flowery urban fairytale illustrations. Graduate of Parsons School of Design (Illustration, BFA, New York 1996) Ursula exhibits frequently in the Bay Area and has sold paintings in New York, London, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong and all across the U.S. She shows most frequently with Luna Rienne Gallery in San Francisco.
Ursula finds inspiration in the organic yet urban landscape of San Francisco and its surrounds; the crossed wires, Victorian buildings and fog-filled horizons, that are often backdrop to her brightly painted doe-eyed flower girls. She is also highly influenced by her travels to the far-flung reaches of the globe and the variety of colorful characters that she encounters – both real and imagined – along the way.
Ursula’s recent projects include a 18′ commissioned painting for The Grand Hyatt in San Francisco as a part of a new art collection and a 75′ mural on Market street in downtown San Francisco. Other clients include: North Face, SF Weekly, Om Records and SF Bay Guardian.
Ursula is also part of Few & Far: an international all-female collective of mural-painters and has painted large collaborative wall murals around the U.S and beyond. For the last 7 years Ursula has been the art director for The Sunset Campout: a renowned music festival that happens every summer in Northern California with a dedicated following.
Originating from the green rural dales of Northern England, Ursula has spent much of her time since then traveling and has studied art in New York City, Florence, Vermont, Oslo, and London.
After ten years making her mark in the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco, she now lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California – this time to a remote spot in the forest – where she’s busy finding a whole host of new inspirations. She lives with her husband, young daughter and two cats near Grass Valley, California.
Follow Ursula Xanthe Young on Instagram
And find more of her work on her official website here.
Why Humans Need Festivals
Since the beginning of our evolution, our species has instinctively gathered into groups and villages. There is something in the human psyche that craves connection, something beyond simply grouping up to accomplish tasks and survive. These gatherings have progressed into celebrations of life, love, creativity, and culture that we know as transformational festivals today, and they play a more important role in society than being a place to escape reality and party.
If you haven’t noticed all your friends’ social media posts or all the advertisements online and around town, there’s been a growth in festival culture, and it’s not just the music that is drawing people in. In a time where the environment is decaying, politics are corrupt, life is becoming more industrialized, war and violence are rampant, and societal standards are conforming our souls into a box, we need festivals to reconnect to ourselves and each other.
Festival-goer Megan Gonsalves couldn’t have put it better: “Though the world seems to be more and more polarized every day, festivals give us a space to be one. It’s a space where you can truly feel like brothers and sisters with your species again as it’s meant to be. No competition, no judgement, just raw uninhibited love and connection. By coming together at times of increased happiness, people are able to set aside differences and find common ground with one another.”
“By sharing space for a time people are able to connect in a deeper way than is possible through formal meetings” says another festival attendee Moose Martinez. How often do you experience this kind of sensation in the “default world”? Most people are afraid to even make eye contact with each other on the streets let alone start a meaningful conversation with each other while waiting in the check-out line. We are constantly surrounded by people, but mentally, so far away. It’s as if everyone is ignoring the unity that is inherent amongst our species. Our society needs festivals because it reminds us of that unity; so many people in our culture are hesitant to initiate interactions or have substantial conversations, holding them back from building the valuable relationships that are so essential to their well-being.
In the world’s longest study in happiness lasting nearly 75 years, psychologists found that the most prominent correlation with happiness was meaningful relationships. Feeling such a divine connection with the rest of the human race reinforces the empathy and understanding already present in our soul. Imagine how many powerful seeds would be planted if nobody was afraid to be themselves and acted completely from love. Seeds that could change lives, and if sowed properly, would change the world.
Even if you wanted to have awkward small talk, it’d be nearly impossible at a festival. In such an exciting environment filled with bold and unique music, art, and people, you can’t help but be motivated to have intellectual conversation. Transformational festivals are the counterculture of our day, bursting at the seems with liberal ideologies. When you fill a space with so many motivated, like-minded people, they’re bound to start figuring out ways they can conquer the injustices of the world. It is the perfect place to network and build up an artillery of people to help accomplish communal goals and get a momentum going. Groups of eco-warriors have been birthed or reinforced through festival culture. Social reform movements have garnered more attention and following within the scene.
Whatever justice you want to bring to the world, this is the place to develop it. Throw in some educational workshops and you have a loaded cannon of socio-political reform. Every transformational festival provides a cornucopia of different workshops to inform participants on topics like permaculture, environmental stewardship, relationships, politics, economics, and health, with facilitated discussions that can yield constructive conclusions. Since everyone is feeling the need for change within this counterculture, everyone is willing to work together to kick the ass of today’s issues.
Artist Lizzy Cook lays it down for us: “Before going to festivals, one can feel alone in a world of problems where nobody has the solutions. Gathering in a community to brainstorm ideas, express frustrations, and celebrate what progress has been made can be a huge weight off the shoulders for anyone who feels the weight of pain this world faces”.
You may have thought about how you can help solve problems within society, and you’re not alone. Only together can we truly get anything done, and attending festivals can help spark that movement of people towards TRANSFORMATION.
RECONNECTION WITH SELF
Our modern lives are heavy with distractions. School, work, media, and technology are just a few of the common occurrences in our daily lives that are distancing us from ourselves. There are so many people out there that do not actually understand themselves, and it is because society is diverting them from really feeling and reacting. When your mind is constantly being exposed to repetitive radio music, unoriginal movies, celebrity gossip, lifeless concrete wastelands full of capitalistic traps, social media, and brainwashing television on a day to day basis, you can bet your sweet bippy that it is holding you back from the experiences with depth that really make you FEEL something.
Life is meant to be lived raw and to the bone, not behind a screen or a desk for several hours a day. Only through feeling can we really get in tune with ourselves, and festivals are the perfect environment for that. Freedom of expression reigns strong at these gatherings, through various forms of art from live painters to interactive installations, mind-blowing music sets complete with face melting visuals and performance artists, people going nuts on the dance floor, and the funkiest outfits you ever did see. Anything is possible. It’s the most organized chaos you will ever be a part of. You will laugh, you will cry. Some of the most powerful emotions you will encounter can go down at a festival because there are no limits.
There have been multiple times where I have actually started bawling out of pure joy at a festival, because my mind was so overwhelmed with the potential of our species and the orchestrated beauty that we create at these gatherings. From those kinds of feelings, I’ve realized my own potential, giving me the confidence for self-love, which opened up so many avenues of opportunity that I now believe I can pursue.
You will learn about the harmony of the universe, and the infinite beauty it beholds. You will realize how interconnected you are with the rest of the human race and how in synch our existence is with each other. Ultimately, you will learn a lot about yourself. And that is the most important lesson, because the first step to dealing with anything else is first understanding how you work. Everything starts with you. A life is a waste of time if you are not connected with yourself.
So there’s all this crazy stuff going on: people running around being the rawest versions of themselves, networking, connecting in the name of love and societal progression, hanging out with each other like they’re family even if they just met that weekend. Some of the most impressive art you’ve ever seen is at every turn, and everyone is having 6 epiphanies a day. Obviously this is a very powerful environment capable of manifesting a lot of positive change in society. The people who attend transformational festivals are often so inspired by their experiences that they then proceed to pollinate the rest of society; leading curious folk to consider attending themselves in search of the magical results. Love is contagious!
I’m not saying that festivals can save the world, but it is so important for us to have a space of love, freedom, and understanding so that we don’t lose each other and ourselves in today’s construct of society. “People need and deserve the opportunity to retreat from the hardships of a world conceived by the wealthy. People need to experience a world based around unity and love.
We cannot continue to fuel this system that makes a profit off of our lives. This is why the festival lifestyle simply makes more sense” says attendee Kynen Cauthron, when asked why we need festivals in today’s society.
It is essential to the present and future of our existence that we have a space where we can reconnect to our roots in love and uninhibited connection, because a world without it would not be one worth living in. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go see for yourself.
Valen Lambert @chagurl
BIO- Trash pirate and boogie bunny; I’ll see you on the d-floor my friends