Bushwick Open Studios: Cats, Wax, Bubbles & More

Joyce Yamada, 13 Grattan Street
Like Ungar, painter Joanne Yamada also previously worked in the Brooklyn Fire Proof building from 2006-2009. She moved to South Slope for a few years before returning to the area in 2017 to The AnX Building on Grattan Street. “I moved back because it’s such a vibrant community and I like it here a lot.”

A former radiologist, Yamada was showcasing her work in her studio with two other artists—Nila Onda and Jody Rasch—as part of Lamina Project, a platform that presents science-inspired artwork. Yamada incorporates “human avatars” into her paintings, such as a water human “made completely out of water,” she explained, just as “we are almost completely made of water.” The water human represents our fragility and the possibility that “we could evaporate.” Another symbol she incorporates into her work Yorick_Root is a “living skeleton.” She said the painting was inspired by a photograph of a large uprooted oak tree in Ireland. “They found a human skeleton in the roots….I thought it was a good symbol of being intertwined with nature,” she said. Having worked as a physician, Yamada said, “I’m very familiar with skeletons and with the idea that all of us have one. It’s a living skeleton, it’s not a symbol of death.”

Communicant, a large-scale painting featuring a redwood, shows the majestic tree’s intricate roots. “They communicate with each through their root system using their symbiotic fungus,” Yamada said of trees, “which to me is like copper wire, they’re communicating, they’re transmitting information.”

Yamada participated in the Open Studios when she first lived in Bushwick and began to do so again when she returned two years ago. “I like the feedback and it’s fun talking to people,” she said.

Also showing at Yamada’s studio was photographer Nila Onda, who recently moved to Harlem after working in Bushwick for seven years. “I felt like I needed a change and also Bushwick is becoming very expensive,” Onda said of her move. “I come [back] often,” she added, noting that she misses the neighborhood’s vibe as well as the parties.

Onda uses a macro lens to shoot air bubbles created by common household fluids (soaps, shampoos) mixed with water inside a martini glass before using a dye-sublimation process to embed the images onto sheets of silver aluminum. The results are iridescent images that resemble stars or the solar system.

Oringinally from Italy, the artist said her Cosmos project was inspired by quantum physics as well as the book The Tao of Physics and illustrates that “there is no isolated particle, everything is part of a system that works together.” She chose for her artist statement, “The Universe is a Dancer,” because “everything dances together. Everything is transforming, constantly changing, evolving. It’s like music.”


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