Dustin Yellin is one of the most original and talented artists of our time. I recently had a chance to meet with him at his amazing studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn or what I would like to call it, DUSTIN RANCH. Enjoy!
Who are some of your influences as an artist?
There’s so many. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I would say that nature and science and art history are some of the three things I look to and respond to.
Could you please take us through the process of one of your large glass sculptures?
Sure. So, basically it depends on what I’m doing. A lot of the time I’m experimenting, so I’m always experimenting and it’s sort of like catching butterflies or identifying birds. You work through certain ideas and experiments over a long period of time – years, or the whole life of your practice, for that matter – and you start to knit things together, so there might appear to be a group of works but they all sort of lend to and inform each other. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Every work and every idea is different.
How long have you been practicing the glass pieces? How long has that been going on for?
Not that long. I mean, I’ve been working in layers for almost a decade and the medium is really just about transparency, so it’s not about glass or resin – for that matter, I used to work with resin and I needed to stop using it because of the chemicals.
Do you live here in your studio?
No, no, I live around here. I have a place across the street.
I saw a picture of the trailer you have here and I thought maybe you lived in there.
My friend used to live in there, but I guess now that it’s warm I will sleep in there.
Growing up, did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Yea, I didn’t know what form the art would take.
Can you tell us a joke?
Why can’t you keep a Jew in jail?
Because they eat lox.
Do you drink? And, if so, what’s your favorite drink?
That’s a weird question. I don’t know. I drink water. Water would be my favorite drink. I love water, but I like to have a glass of wine at dinner sometimes.
Red or white?
Other than this, do you have any hobbies? Do you cycle or run? Yoga?
I need to. That’s my Achilles heel. I need to do things like that. Jesus, you’re making me freak out. I don’t do anything, man. I surf when I get to travel, but I don’t get to travel as much anymore because of this project. I like to swim and I need to do more things like that.
But time right?
Time is the one thing that can elude you. A lot of these works are like stacked microscope slides, so that I’m getting in all these marks and mediums and pieces of culture, like the way you have blood work on a slide.
Can you tell us about Kid Yellin?
That was a gallery I had when I was with a friend of mine. It was cool. We showed a lot of upcoming artists. Now we’re going to have exhibitions in here and a residency program here, so this is a place where people can make work.
How would someone go about applying for the residency?
There will be an application process. Submissions are being accepted from visual artists, writers, filmmakers, composers, and scientists. There is a wide spectrum of disciplines in dialog with one another- to experiment with and enhance contemporary thought.
How is it growing up in California and why did you move to New York? Brooklyn?
Well I grew up in mostly Colorado actually, but I was born in California. I moved to New York ‘cause I guess I read a little bit of art history and it seemed to be where all the people I could learn from were.
Who are your favorite music artists right now, if any?
Oh, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I love Townes Van Zandt. I love Harry Nilsson, Lemon Heads, MGMT, T REX. I mean that list is so long and spans so many decades. It’s pointless.
How long did you have this space for?
Since June 1, 2011. You should see how it looked in the beginning.
I want to make this kind of artist utopian dream here. Something we’ve been thinking about for years and years and that’s the idea here. What can you fantasize about, what can be the most incredible sort of fantasy you could possibly think of, you know.
Thank you for taking time out and meeting with us today!