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A conversation with Yael Zahavy Mittelman April 2018
Andrea: I’m so looking forward to your show at Gallery 110, An Abstract Self Portrait. How long have we known each other?
Yael: For the longest time.
A. Long but wonderful. Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?
Y. My mom is an artist, so I always had art all around me. It is interesting how as an adult I appreciate that exposure to art in a different way. As a child I used to doodle, anywhere and everywhere.
As an adult, I was a special Ed. teacher at first, then, moving to the states, I finished my M.A. in art therapy, so I worked for a while in a psychiatric hospital as an art therapist. At some point my body was struggling physically, and I had hard time walking and climbing stairs. I was always making art, but at that point had hard time climbing to the second floor of the house to my studio. So I organized a corner in my office downstairs to make art. Because I could not work at the psychiatric hospital anymore, I became a full time artist.
A. What an interesting journey! I have been following your work for years and watched it evolve from painting acrylic to collage to your new digital work/ digital collage combination
What is the medium that you are using in this show?
Y. I can say mixed media, and that will be short and correct, but to be more precise, the base is acrylic. On top of the acrylic there is collage and on some of it colored pencils.
A. These new Art stories are a fascinating combination of abstract, figurative imagery and something almost surreal. How does your process work?
Y. Thank you, I like your observations. It is a very intuitive process. It is like the art is formed through me, something that I cannot define, is guiding me in the process. It is really hard to describe. I could describe it in a different way. It feels like a dance between me and the materials, me and the process, where the art has a life of its own.
A: How did you get inspired to begin creating with the digital process?
Y. I got exposed to different Apps on my cell and computer. But even here, it started with my mother. She suggested to use Coral Painter 2018 free for a month, to try the program to see what I can do with it. She has been using painters forever. So I tried different programs and Apps and found myself manipulating parts of my own mix media work. It was really cool to see how I could not just make the art in my studio, but continue and explore parts of it through digital media. This show will have the original work as well as digital manipulations of it. It makes it very exciting and fascinating.
A. What inspired this show?
Y. Hard to say. Life leads me. But Gallery 110 is a member’s gallery, and the artwork I am exposed to is very inspiring. I am trying to bring art and abstract closer to the people around me. The digital manipulation is making it easier to do so. It is like looking closer and closer at something and the closer you get, you see the same thing in a different way, get deeper into the story.
A. Your work seems to flow and evolve. What do you start with? An idea or image or?
Y. I just start and it happens. That is the best answer I have.
A.I always want to ask artists the question: What are your influences?
Y. I think we are influenced by our background, and the things that are happening around us. But my art is happening at the moment. It just comes from the inside.
A:. Do you have a favorite artist?
Y: You. I am also inspired by the exposure I have to artists from all over the world the more I spend time on Instagram. It is so cool. It is magic that it is so available.
A. Thank you, I’m honored! When you moved to the U.S. from Israel did you notice any differences in the art scene or how you approached art? I’m wondering if you had different influences or ways of learning about art in Israel or if moving to the U.S. changed your art process or inspirations at all?
Y. I am sure it did, but not sure I can say how. It happened about 20 years back.
A. This process of creating sounds very personal. Have these artworks changed you and if so, how?
Y. I keep changing and evolving, so it is hard to separate my art process from my personal growth and to say what influences what, the chicken and the egg story. But I am more clear about my emotional/spiritual process by now, so it is easier to share the art process, which allows conversations to happen with people.
A. Your art feels very honest and expressive. Has it been a process to be able to share yourself so honestly in a public venue?
Y. It is still in the process, but it becomes more pleasurable. I think the exposure part is the hardest for most artists. In my perspective, it is not just personal, but the art brings part of you into the canvas/paper. That is the reason for the title: "An Abstract Self Portrait." each piece of art is a self-portrait. It can be realistic or abstract, conceptual or non-conceptual. That is the beauty of it, as the viewer, you can see parts of the artist in the art, as the artist, that is the risky part. Especially art, verses, let’s say music, stays on. Most people do not have a way to share themselves that way. Artists do. The more I am accepting myself as I am, the easier it is to share my art with the rest of the world.
A. So, the show is at Gallery 110 in Pioneer square Seattle and you have quite a few events happening around the show. Lots of opportunities for visitors to enjoy and a chance to meet you and talk about the art!
Please tell us the details:
Y. The opening/Artwalk is on April 5th, from 5-8. It is really cool how on Artwalk night the whole neighborhood comes to life. Gallery 110 is in the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts. It has many galleries and artists studios in and outside the building. During artwalk it is all open free to the public to come in and enjoy art. It feels like a big party to me. Come to talk about the art, meet the artists, and just meet new people. The creative vibes are in the air.
A. And there is a reception also right?
Y. Artist Talk is Saturday April 14th 1-5, and the reception is April 21st 5-8 (for reception, please reserve by emailing to Director@gallery110.com.) During those two events we are going to do fun activities and talks about art. Come join the fun. For an example, on the 14th, Saundra Fleming, an amazing artist and a wonderful friend, who is opening her own solo show at Gallery 110, and I are going to converse about the connections and differences between our processes of doing the art and what connect us as artists, and in the art we will see on the walls in April.
A. The show is from April 5-28th and I’m looking forward to seeing it!
Y. Thank you, great questions by the way, and thank you for this wonderful opportunity.