An Israeli artist based in Brooklyn, Yasmin Gur is working with all kind of materials starting from wood and metal to reclaimed and upcycled materials. Her artworks are very emotional and straight to be point. Today, Yasmin shares with The Art Sprinter Blog readers her thoughts on the creative process and what motivated her to choose career in the arts.
Please introduce yourself to The Art Sprinter Blog readers. What is your background in art?
My name is Yasmin Gur. I am a Brooklyn based sculptor. I was born in Israel and grew up in the desert. My father is an architect and my mother was a painter. So in a way I feel I am the logical outcome of my parents. Both of my parents loved art and passed that love on to me. They also encouraged me to pursue my ideas from a very young age. For my sixth birthday I told my mother I wanted a hammer to build things. She took my wish seriously and ordered the finest carpenter hammer she could find from Sweden.
Kindly tell us more about installations that you are creating. Why did you choose this medium and format?
For the past several years I have been working with reclaimed wood. I have chosen reclaimed wood because of its expressive qualities. Unlike many other sculptural materials, the history and experience of a piece of wood becomes part of the wood itself. Time, pressure, moisture, water, sand, dust, seepage, along with all of our methods of joining and fastening affect the look and the structure of each beam and timber.
Do you have a formal art education? In your opinion, is education important for artists?
I studied art in Israel at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I do believe that my education in art has informed and deepened my work. Specifically, it has helped me find other artists to connect with and to study in the process of understanding and developing my own work. I think it is very difficult to develop as an artist without some training and the community that it provides.
How can you describe your art? What do you expect viewers to explore in your installations?
My recent work is abstract with references to both nature and architecture. It is built from reclaimed wood and utilizes repetition. One of the challenges is to find ways to form the piece in a way that allows it to emerge from or interact with its surroundings to create a context for it.
What is the message that you are trying to present through your works?
My work is an exploration of primal physical feelings: tension, compression, expansion, and dissipation. When I begin a sculpture I start with a thought about how to convey a feeling. I manipulate the material to find the most direct way to convey it. As for the viewers, I strive to create works that connect with viewers emotionally, but also have a visual complexity and presence that feels more like a natural object than a manufactured one.
What inspires you as an artist? How do you choose the subject of your installations?
I am inspired by the city. I love urban architecture. Bridges, tunnels, buildings, scaffolding, the subway – they all fill me with excitement and wonder. I find their structures endlessly fascinating. I love watching the process of construction, of buildings being built and taking their space in the landscape. My subject emerges through the dance between space and materials.
How has your style changed over the years of working as a professional artist?
In my early years, I made primarily self contained objects inspired by nature and the human body, usually in metal. Over time my work has evolved to be more open and the way I conceive it and develop it is now with the surroundings in mind. I think of myself as building not only a sculpture, but also a context which will allow for its full expression.
What is the most comfortable environment for you to work in?
I am most comfortable working in my studio, surrounded by my tools, several stacks of reclaimed lumber, and a wall of sketches to push me forward.
What is your connection to Jewish culture and art? What are some of the Jewish artists that inspire you?
As a child I remember looking often at an etching in the living room. It was a street scene of Berlin at the turn of the century by Lesser Ury, who was a relative of my father. When I began to study art seriously as a young adult I admired Louise Nevelson for her pioneering work using readymade furniture elements to create wall pieces and boxes. I love the work of Anish Kapoor. He has such an exquisite sense of balance and vulnerability in his works. Seeing his work was a revelation to me as a young artist. It helped me understand the formal possibilities of the space around a sculpture.
Do you find art contests helpful for the artists? What would you suggest to the artists who are thinking about participating in The Art Sprinter competition?
Art contests help an artist gain exposure. This is extremely important. It helps build a reputation and a wider audience for the work. I recommend that artists submit their best current work.
P.S.—Please make sure to take a look at this amazing video (below) about Yasmin’s work.