Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Studio Visit with Yasmin Spiro By Aya Uekawa

            It was the day of the Brooklyn wide-open studio when I visited Yasmin Spiro.  As she was participating in the event, her works are presented nicely in her studio in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.  When I entered her space, I sensed an earthy organic scent. It was her large sculpture created with woven jute. It looks like a Rococo style skirt, which was hung from the ceiling at the height of a tall woman’s waist. It is slightly larger than life size, yet is not overwhelming. I could imagine a woman’s torso sitting on it. It was striking to have a simultaneous impact of vision and scent. A few minutes after she opened her studio window, the scent went away.
            It was clear that her signature material is woven jute. She showed me her video piece, which was projected on a woven jute. The image of the video is taken from her trip to Jamaica where she spent her childhood. She took videos of an old railroad near Kingston. As a child, she went there, but she said she remembered some scenes differently. She told me how our memory was fragile and sometimes not reliable, which I totally agree with. Most of the video show a perspective of a person riding on the back of a moving train, looking over the railroad running between green bushes and trees. The video was also taken through the clear vinyl sheet during rain, so the image is slightly distorted with the running water over the vinyl sheet. It is a nostalgic scene to everyone, although the viewer has more than likely never been there. Despite her specific choice of location, the imagery appears rather anonymous. Yet, it is probably why anybody can feel connected to the imagery. The effect of the woven jute is very interesting. The image looks like a detail picture of a painting on canvas, which transforms the image to a dream like, ambiguous landscape. The effect of the rain and saturated colors makes the image look like an impressionist painting.
            She was also working on her new drawing project; maps of imaginary cities. She prints the woven jute on her drawings by painting the jute and presses it against paper. She uses these prints as a ground or a part of the maps of the drawings. The limited pallet of red, gold, and black, leads the viewer to pay attention to details of her drawings.  
            From the works she showed me either on her laptop or in person, I asked her if she was interested in making an installation. She told me about her idea of a small scale, interactive piece. We agreed to keep in contact about the piece till she comes up with a solid vision for the work. I believe her new work will be great to show the diversity of tART artists in the exhibition.