Yolanda Sanchez came to art later in life. She works in both textile art and painting, inspired by nature. Her work is light and colorful celebrating the joy in the world and serves as a reminder to look at nature and be aware.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
Formally, I came to art later in life, although I was always artistic. I believe, that the visual arts, compared to music that needs very early development, it is all about how we see the world – and this starts at the very beginning of life. My first career is as a clinical psychologist. I am a Ph.D. I had a private practice for many years and taught also at the graduate level.
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Following a health crisis, I decided that I needed to pursue what I had always loved, and that is art. As a first-generation immigrant and with a single parent, it was out of the question to study art the first time around. I began taking art classes, obtained a BFA and subsequently, an MFA from Yale University. This was an unexpected trajectory, as I never thought I would obtain formal degrees in art. In view of my academic background, it seemed like the right thing to do, that is, to learn from the ground up.
You work in several media. Do you have a favorite? How do you decide what you’ll work on next?
I am first and foremost, a painter. Even when I am working in a fiber medium, I believe I am painting with fabric (not on fabric, by the way.)
My choices as to which medium I work with seem to depend on invitations to exhibit in one medium or another. My gallery in New York only shows painting, so, this also informs what I’m doing.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
As an artist, I am committed to making work that is joyful and that celebrates beauty in some way. My work is landscape-inspired, working with light and color, regardless of the medium. Attention to beauty, necessarily directly through the work, but perhaps, as a reminder to look at nature, to be aware.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
Much in contemporary art is social-political, or about calling attention to negative aspects of our world. My approach is completely opposite. Through color and light, I celebrate the world. My work is most distinctive in terms of the strength of the color. As Agnes Martin says,
All artwork is about beauty; all positive work represents it and celebrates it.Agnes Martin
All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our lives.
What motivates you artistically?
What motivates me is living in the moment, being in nature. Looking at beautiful things.
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
I start with an idea, and usually a particular palette, since my work is completely abstract.
Once I begin, the work is completely process-oriented. I never know how it will turn out.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
I always listen to music. Classical music in the morning; rock or blues in the afternoon.
Which part of the design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
My favorite part of the design process is the making of the work.
Is there an overarching theme message that connects all of your work?
The overarching theme of my work is to impart a kind of joy or beauty. I believe that joy and beauty affects behavior in a positive way. “Every day turn your attention to an image of beauty.” Whatever it may be: the grass, the sky, your cat, a beautiful vase.
Interview posted October 2023
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