Hannah Yata: Surreal Creatures and Symbolism of the Female Form
”So many times when I read articles I don’t feel like I can totally trust the writers. I’d really like to perform and study my own science”.
Hannah Yata’s confronting yet delicate work explores the duality of humankind’s relationship with nature in a way that is bold and unafraid. We caught up with Hannah to discuss both her work and her journey to today.
What are the upsides and downsides to the artist’s life?
A creative’s life is never an easy one: I’m my own worst critic and I’m even worse when someone asks me to do a commission. I’m not in the business to please, but really just want paint what comes from my heart. Of course, not everything is widely accepted and that’s hard, just because, well, you gotta eat.
Do you have a mentor or an idol artistically?
My fiancé is also an artist that I feel can fall into the category of mentorship – we live and work together – so we’re intimately aware of each other’s shortcomings when it comes to painting. He was schooled in ways that I wished I could’ve been. I think we both geek out over Rubens, as someone I could say we idol artistically.
Where is your favorite place in the world and why?
The bathtub, it’s so womb-like. We just moved into a place with a tub big enough for the both of us, so after a long day of painting we just soak and have a beer and talk. It’s an amazing place where we both can just completely relax, and now and then the bunnies will come in and hang out with us. I can’t say I’ve ever felt more safe or surrounded by so much love.
What has been your most significant achievement or proudest moment as an artist?
That’s hard, I have a few… I remember coming home in the morning after working graveyard shift. The air was bitter and I felt nauseous from not getting enough sleep. I was aimlessly looking at my email when I recognized a name of one of my favorite musicians. He told me he loved my work and wanted to know if I did commissions. Everything started spinning about that time and I wasn’t sure if I was having a panic attack or it was just insane giddiness – probably both.
It’s been a long time in the making since we’ve been working together but in the moment you just feel like the universe shook your hand, and said “You go girl.”
Do you have an underlying message or theme that you carry throughout your practice?
I know the whole idea of environmentalism people get pretty tired of, but it’s something my head refuses to let go of. Like, I really love the idea that women are synomous with nature, but she’s also, well, HUMAN.
As a human, I question the human side of that symbolism: are we actually part of nature, or, at this point, are we decidedly unnatural as we work to dominate and control nature?
I like to question the psychology of animals versus humans. What things are uniquely human: cruelty? consciousness of a higher presence?
If you had the power to change one thing (anything at all) what would it be?
If you weren’t an artist, what do you see yourself doing instead?
I wish I could read more… but I also wish I could do more of my own research. So many times when I read articles I don’t feel like I can totally trust the writers. I’d really like to perform and study my own science.
What is your greatest dream as an artist?
I dream to make a difference and also one day to make a masterpiece.
Have you ever collaborated with another artist?
I’ve collaborated with my fiancé, Jean Pierre Arboleda, on a few pieces now. The experience was really good for both of us, it helps us to understand how the other works and thinks. It’s also a wonderful learning tool. Sharing a painting is like doing a dance and becoming familiar with your partner’s movements.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your life (whether related to art or not), and how has it impacted or changed your practice?
When I was 14 my parents got divorced, and soon thereafter I went through a pretty hideous rebellious streak and left my family’s religion as well. Despite desperate and severe attempts to try and turn my faith around, I’ve barely seen my mother, sister, and extended family for about 10 years since the rules of the religion requires that they shun me.
Recently, I actually have been able to have a relationship with both of my two wonderful sisters since they’ve left the religion, but communication with my mom has been virtually non-existent.
When I paint, the ideas of motherhood and the relationship between species have become something I process over and over. I guess I’m just trying to understand the psychology, but also the relationship of families, and the ideas of humanity and empathy.