Media Coverage
Television, radio, print, Digital
Robert Young, A Global Artist Sets His Sights On DC With "Unmasked Fear"
Interview By Ellen Bryan. Interview Courtesy: Great Day Washington produced by Nayada Cowherd
CBC Unmask Fear Interview
Robert Young Returns To Toronto To Unmask Fear
Interview by Dwight Drummond
Faces Of Pan Am: The Spirit And Traditions Of 41 Nations​​​​​​​
Interview By Marci Ien​​​​​​​
Portraits show Black Canadians 'doing purposeful work in the world'
Robert Young Launches Campaign To Raise Funds
Interview By Marcia MacMillan
Flag Portraits
Interview By Matt Galloway
Discovering Riverside
Interview By Jason Hall
Cover Story: Riverside Rediscovered
Seeking The Light: PanAm Games Feature Robert Young’s Stunning Backlit Exhibition
Story By Kiersten Wones

When Robert Young photographs a woman for his World Faces exhibit, he says he asks them “to find in themselves what it would look like if this image could wipe away all poverty, all violence, all distressing issues in their nation.” The photographer and artist has been shooting portraits of women painted with their native flag since 2009, but when the Pan American Games came to his hometown of Toronto in 2015, Young saw the perfect stage for the body of work to come together as a whole.

After pitching the idea to the competition’s organizers and landing a commission, Young sought out 41 women throughout Toronto whose nationalities represented those of the participating nations at the games. His process was meticulous, measuring each woman’s face and coordinating with a makeup artist to create the perfect representation of each nation’s flag. Finally, it was time to find a way of displaying the portraits in a way that was as powerful as their subjects.

“Originally, the traditional aspect was to print them on a semi-gloss paper, put them in a traditional frame, and hang them in the windows,” says Young. But the venue, Toronto’s historic 34-story Commerce Court, seemed to call for more. “It was such a dynamic, open, and massive space with nothing in the middle and glass all the way around the sides,” he continues. “As I began to really look at how we could incorporate the space, I wanted the exhibition to be interactive. I wanted people to feel like they could walk right up to the body of work and … feel like they could be one with the image.”

It was then that he discovered fabric printer McRae Imaging ( During their first meeting he saw an enormous, backlit print of a woman for a makeup ad, and the decision was a no- brainer. The process, however, was anything but thoughtless.
“We did test after test after test,” says Young. When you’re curating an international display featuring symbols as precise and revered as a nation’s flag, color management is more than important – it’s pivotal. “There were a lot of challenges in terms of how to deal with the gradient, the deep, dark paint falling off into the dark shadows, keeping blacks black yet also maintaining the saturation and color temperature.”

At long last, the project was ready for printing. McRae custom built 21 double-sided light boxes designed by Young. They measured 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall. Each portrait was printed on the shop’s Reggiani ReNoir textile printer and sublimated with a Monti Antonio onto Lux Backlit fabric. The exhibit was arranged as a modern-day Stonehenge, says Young, and four strategically placed openings so that “your experience viewing the 41 nations changed every single time you walked through the space.”

Young adds that the 7-hour installation, which included a 40-foot rug to cover the web of electric cables, was “quite an undertaking,” requiring a team of seven people to complete. But he continues that every minute was well spent. “Kids were running through the exhibition identifying their mothers and slamming their hands on the canvas. There’s no way we could’ve created that interaction with it printed small scale in classic museum style frames … It would’ve been hands off, stay away, stand back a few feet, and look … It was even better than I could have imagined.
14-Foot-Tall Portrait Displays The 'Face Of Canada'
A Wide-Format Fabric Installation In The Royal Ontario Museum.

In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto installed "Robert Young's 'Face of Canada,'" The Canada 150 Commemorative Edition in the museum’s Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court. Part of the "Young World Faces" collection, the 14 x 10-foot textile artwork features the photograph of a Canadian citizen with the country’s flag painted across her face. EFI printed the portrait onto A. Berger Lighttex fabric with a Vutek FabriVu 3240.

The special edition one-off differed from the more than 40 other pieces in the "Young World Faces" with production on a white background, rather than black. The original textile series was printed by Mississauga, Ontario-based McRae Imaging: 41 7-foot tall canvases displaying faces with the national flags of each participant in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

Get Your Game Face On

Digital Article: SIGN MEDIA

Robert Young, the artist behind the ‘Young World Faces’ series of inkjet-printed textiles that debuted during Toronto’s 2015 Pan American (Pan Am) Games, recently produced a special commemorative edition for the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM’s) Canada 150 celebrations.

The 4.3 x 3-m (14 x 10-ft) photographic portrait of an anonymous Canadian citizen with the nation’s flag painted on her face was produced at Electronics for Imaging’s (EFI’s) inkjet technology facility in Meredith, N.H., using the manufacturer’s 3.4-m (11.1-ft) wide Vutek FabriVu soft signage printer and aqueous dye sublimation inks.
McRae Imaging of Mississauga, Ont., printed Young’s original series of 41 painted faces—each featuring a different Pan Am country’s flag—on a black background in 2015. The special edition produced for the ROM is the first to feature a white background instead and is larger than the earlier 2.1-m (7-ft) tall graphics. It was printed direct-to-substrate using A. Berger’s Lighttex, a single-sided polyester-based textile designed for back-lit applications.

The graphic was installed in August in the ROM’s Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court for a Canada 150 festival. During and immediately following the exhibition, Young was working on another photography project in Anguilla, where he was caught in the devastation of Hurricane Irma. After being safely evacuated to Miami, Fla., he began developing materials for an awareness campaign to help raise funds for relief and rebuilding efforts throughout the Caribbean islands affected by the storm.

“I’m a Canadian and an American with Jamaican roots,” he says. “I try to create imagery that inspires and motivates people with the spirit of bringing the world together.”

Digital Magazine: XCLUSIVE​​​​​​​: District Of Columbia Office Of Cable Television Film Media & Entertainment
Cover Story: Robert Young’s “Unmask Fear” Graces The Cover Of The November 2020 Edition Of XCLUSIVE
Story By District Of Columbia Office Of Cable Television Film Media & Entertainment

"The #EntertainDC Office would like to send a huge shout-out to DC-based storyteller Robert Young on the launch of Unmask Fear at Union Market. Young describes the exhibition as providing "hope in a time of pandemic and inequality" and inspiring the community to vote. Visit Unmask Fear: Union Market at Neal Place NE and 6th Street NE Washington, DC 20002 until November 22, 2020." -Angie M. Gates, Director, DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment

The DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment launched the DC Creative Affairs Office (CAO) in 2019 and has stood by Mayor Muriel Bowser's commitment to improve diversity, equity, and access for all within the creative community. The CAO team works on policy legislative awareness and regulation to support the work of creative businesses. CAO is establishing infrastructure partnerships to support the mental health of our creative community and programs to improve the economic mobility of the District’s creative entrepreneurs.
Democracy Makes Us Hungry: New Art In The Union Market
Story By UnionMarket.Com
DC-based storyteller Robert Young launched his installation Unmask Fear at Union Market to provide hope in a time of pandemic and inequality and to inspire the community to vote. Check it out on the corner of 6th Street + Neal Place.

An inspiration ground for emerging and established artists, the Union Market District celebrates the power of creativity through its artists-in-residence, including international artist Yoko Ono and more.

In addition to ongoing resident work and an evolving street art collection, Union Market District welcomes local and international artistic community partnerships and immersive experiences. Creativity Thrives here. Come have your experience. -Source: Edens Union Market
Digital Article: EXAMINER
Pan Am Games Sponsor CIBC, Wins With Robert Young’s Innovative Exhibition
Story By Max Donner

Some sponsors do not get much more than a sincere thank you. CIBC, the Canadian bank that is lead sponsor of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and its “Panamania” cultural festival is showing that sponsors can become the center of attention with a classy art exhibition that reinforces positive images. The exhibition is called “YOUNG World Faces of Pan Am.” The faces are in fact Young, the presentation style is new and intriguing, and the lead artist is actually named Young, Robert Young, to be exact. The July 7 preview was a big success and is generating a level of media attention that only the most successful sponsorship programs can achieve.

This very personal approach to showing the spirit and traditions of the forty-one nations participating in the PanAmerican Games presents a photo essay in a constellation of portraits. Each one is a headshot of a young woman from each of the forty-one nations, meticulously face-painted with a vibrant adaptation of the national flag of the country she is representing.

The relevance to a major international sporting event clicks over and over like a shutter in a photography studio. The face painting looks like the work of the most spirited national team fans who cheer their team on from the stands. The facial expressions reflect the range of emotions of passionate sports fans at live sporting events, from anticipation to amazement. The images are projected from illuminated lightboxes whose seven foot by four foot dimensions match the larger than life images of sports heroes. A matching digital art presentation enhances each portrait with a clip of each model and her aspirations for her country. And the presentation itself is in the shape of a hemisphere, engaging viewers to take a new look at the Western Hemisphere nations presenting themselves in the 2015 Pan American Games.

The presentation is a good match for the flagship exhibition space of its sponsor, CIBC, the brand of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which also own the CIBC Wood Gundy investment house. It is a spacious entry to the tower that houses the bank’s headquarters in Toronto’s financial district. This “Center Court” is just a short walk from the Toronto 2015 Superstore and the center of Toronto 2015 daily victory celebrations and fireworks in Nathan Philips Square. This presents a model exhibition of what a sponsor can do to build off the platform of sports event fans to engage the arts community and the general public. The exhibition itself intrigues viewers to see each portrait again from different perspectives and share their impressions with other viewers. Many will likely return with friends on their way to other events in the area. This can give CIBC the image that upscale banks want. That is to be seen as an innovative institution that welcomes new ideas and new customers.

Serious business sponsors will also want to take a close look at the kind of team effort that makes this type of sponsorship an effective way to reach a large and influential audience. Robert Young, a Toronto area native who has extensive global experience with both professional model projects and photo essays, came up with the idea on his own and networked to present it to the Toronto 2015 organizers and potential sponsors at CIBC. Together, they decided to try and proceeded with engaging another network – expatriates from the other forty Pan American countries living in Toronto. They also recruited the talents of make-up artist Jocelyn Santos-Thompson, whose own family is from Chile. Santos-Thompson matched Young’s interpretation of each Pan American national flag to the individual complexion and beauty palette of forty different models. This artistic approach required sophisticated lighting to recreate the exact color shades used in the national flags, a new level of technical precision. Local technology also showed how these unique images can be presented to stand out. McRae Imaging crafted giant lightboxes seven feet tall by four feet wide to display high resolution fabric prints that make the portraits shimmer. The special effects strengthen the individual portraits and also make a stunning impression when viewers step back and see the entire gallery at one time.

Ambitious sponsors who want to do much more than hand out money to worthy organizations will want to take a close look at what this team effort has shown that it can do. Lead sponsor CIBC is earning praise for being willing to take a few risks and do something remarkably different. CIBC is also using its good customer relations and location to help achieve a critical mass of viewers. With exciting, new content like this program, word-of-mouth and social media can make that audience much larger. The pragmatic approach to presentation also makes it well suited to become a travelling exhibition after the exhibition closes on August 15. The standard-sized light-boxes are easy to ship in a single container and will be a welcome special exhibition at any premier sports museum.

ASSOCIATED PRESS | AP NEWS: Fox News | Press Reader | San Diego Tribune | Washington Times
Pan Am Games In Toronto: Robert Young Captures 41 Faces Of 41 Nations
Story By Stephen Wade. AP Article Photographs by Julio Cortez

TORONTO (AP) — Robert Young is showing that Toronto is a fitting city to host the Pan Am Games, showcasing the diversity of the entire hemisphere along the shore of Lake Ontario.

The Toronto-born Young has been able to find women living in Toronto with roots in each of the 41 nations or territories participating in the games. He painted their faces in the colors of their native flags, photographed them and put their stunning images on tall panels arranged in a Stonehenge-like ring that’s the center of an exhibition in the city’s downtown.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Carla Olivier, who works at a nearby hotel and stumbled across the exhibition on Friday. “I love it.” Olivier might be a typical Torontonian. She was born in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean but has lived in Toronto for 30 years. Vivienne Bryan was a few steps away looking at the Jamaican display. She came to the city 25 years ago from Jamaica and said she was “so proud” to learn that Young is the son of Jamaican immigrants. “To be honest, I’m amazed when I see this,” she said. That summed up the reaction as a few hundred people cut across the circular display, posed for photos and milled around. Many congratulated Young for capturing Toronto’s diversity, which could only be matched by much larger cities like London or New York. “Toronto has the opportunity to showcase the world in one place,” said Young, who returned to his native city earlier this year after living away for a few decades. He said the commission by games organizers to present his signature series, “Young World Faces”, allowed him to learn new things about his city of birth.

Canada’s largest city will show off its diversity throughout the 17-day games, which end July 26. According to city hall data from 2011, approximately half of Toronto’s population was born outside Canada, and 45 percent of residents have a mother tongue other than English or French. One third of its immigrants have arrived in the city in the last 10 years, and more than 200 “distinct ethnic origins” were identified in one study.

Young said he found his subjects largely through word of mouth. Very few had worked as models, and all called Toronto home at the time when he shot the photos earlier this year. “Each time I chose someone I would ask them who else they knew,” Young explained. He said the most difficult to find was a representative of the South American country of Suriname, who was recommended by his Argentine subject. “I told her she had to come in — there is only one of you,” he said. Surprisingly, he said finding a representative from Canada was a challenge almost as tough as Suriname. “With Canada, I wanted to find someone who went back three or four generations.”

Young said he chose candidates whose faces could exemplify their nations, and focused his attention on the piercing eyes of every subject. “I would study the angles in a particular flag, whether there were stars, whether the colours were horizontal or vertical,” Young said. “I’d study the flag to see how it could be matched seamlessly with the person’s face.”

Young, who is one-quarter Chinese, said the project taught prompted his subjects to learn more about their families and their immigrant histories.”Some knew a lot,” he said. “Some used it as an opportunity to know more.” He said he plans to continue the project for the entire world. The scale will grow, but the intrigue will be the same.

“People are fascinated with color, and they are fascinated with where they are from,” Young said. “People are also fascinated looking into people’s eyes because most of the time they are scared to do it. Here’s an opportunity to do it and learn about the world at the same time.

Guyana President Receives Gift From Curator Robert Young
Story By Ron Fanfair

Guyana’s president David Granger was the recipient of a unique gift during his recent three-day visit to Toronto. Canadian-born curator and artisan, Robert Young, presented the “Face of Guyana” photographic image to the head of state prior to a business luncheon in Brampton. The image was part of Young’s “World Faces of Pan Am” photo exhibit showcasing the diversity of the 41 participating Pan American countries in last summer’s Games in the Golden Horseshoe and Greater Toronto Area region.

The commissioned exhibition, which was part of PANAMANIA, was on display in the Commerce Court west lobby from July 10 to August 23. “This is quite the honour to be making this presentation to the president,” said Young, who spent 14 years in the United States before returning to Toronto last year. “The image is of a Guyanese resident that I shot and it’s part of my series of works that I use to inspire people and remind people across the world that we are one.”
Young said the creation of each image for “World Faces of Pan Am” was executed with the focus mainly on the colours of each country’s flag. The Guyana flag colours are green, white, gold, red and black. “The colour theory and placement is exacting throughout the process of the make-up followed by a dramatic lighting style and unique composition that renders the face majestically hovering within the composition,” he said. “The bonus element in this special collection is that all 41 women photographed not only have roots in each of the 41 participating nations of the Games, but are all residents of this city.”

The creative process for the collection was developed over a 14-month period and culminated in the original collection of seven faces – Jamaica, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Mexico and Germany. Young said the first face was captured in New York in 2009 when he returned from an emotional journey to Sierra Leone to direct and produce a documentary film, Freetown Reborn.

The creative artist, who sees himself as an orator specializing in communication through creative experimentation of new age and traditional art-forms, is the son of a Jamaican-born mother whose father was Chinese from Hong Kong.

Vinette Young, a former Jamaica Tourist Board employee who migrated to Canada in 1971 and became a dietitian, died last July at age 84.
In Front Of Thousands Of Collectors, Haiti’s Earthquake Spurs Miami Art Fair Projects
Story By Jennifer Kay

Visitors take photos of Robert Young’s art work, “Face of Haiti,” during the annual Art Basel Miami Beach international art fair in downtown Miami, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010. Thousands of collectors are in Miami for the annual Art Basel Miami Beach international art fair, and for other contemporary art fairs and museum exhibits. Haitian artists and advocates hope they can gain influence and money for projects to improve the lives of more than 1.5 million people still homeless nearly a year after the earthquake, amid a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 1,900 since October.
Record Of Media Coverage

Television & Radio

DC OCTFME XCLUSIVE “Unmask Fear Launches In Union Market” – Cover Story
Union Market | The Filed Report “Hungry For Democracy: New Art In Union Market”
DCist “The Writing On The Wall”
The List Are You On It “DC’s 230th Anniversary With Robert Young”
Miami Herald “Art Basel Week What To See”
Printing Impressions “Face Of Canada Installed at Royal Ontario Museum”
Discover Riverside Magazine “Riverside Rediscovered” – Cover Story
Associated Press “41 Faces Of 41 Nations”
Fox News “41 Faces Of 41 Nations”
San Diego Tribune “41 Faces Of 41 Nations”
CBC Television “Young World Faces At The Pan American Games”
CBC Sports Television “Panamania: A Closer Look”
CTV Television Canada A.M. “Face Of The Nation”
SignMedia Canada Cover Story “The Face Of Fabric Graphics”
Textile Image Magazine Australia Cover Story “EFI Highlight’s Soft Signage Sublimation Technology” “Pan American Games Feature Stunning Exhibition”
Big Picture Magazine “Seeking The Light”
Share News “Guyana’s President Receives Gift From Curator Robert Young”
Examiner “Sponsor Wins With Robert Young’s Innovative Exhibition”
Select Magazine “The Benefits Of Soft Signage”
Associated Press Art Daily – “In Front of Thousands of Collectors, Haiti’s Earthquake Spurs Miami Art Fair Projects”
Word Magazine
People's Corner
Copyright © 2023 Robert Young/Raconteur Seven LLC. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any content on this website, in whole or in part, without the express written consent of the copyright owner is strictly prohibited.
Back to Top