Art Profile: Angela Yang’s Visions of Relationships
Image credit: Arteza
Angela Yang, one of our March art profile subjects, was a shy four-year-old living in Coral Springs when she completed her first acrylic painting, and experienced the overwhelming urge to continue creating. From that point on, art became the pole star of her life.
In the ensuing decades, Angela Yang has added drawing, sculpture, video, mixed media works, and installations to her oeuvre. She is extensively educated, graduating from Florida State University in 2005 with a B.A. in Studio Art, plus a dual B.A. in Psychology and English, then received a MFA in Visual Arts from Florida International University in 2018. She studied art and art history abroad in Paris. Yang also values independent study.
Angela Yang has exhibited in numerous venues across South Florida, including in the Miami edition of Art Basel, one of the most prominent and prestigious art fairs and cultural events in the world.
Yang’s works are heavily informed by the psychology of relationships with people, things, and ideas, and the significance of what is created both in the mind, and in the outer world, within others, and within herself. She often uses figurative forms that are expressing core human emotion, sitting silent, inviting the viewer to look closer to be presented with a deeper meaning.
One of her current projects, a mixed media collage/oil painting, illustrates what can be produced with this approach. At first glance, it’s an astronaut holding a phone in the foreground, a woman sleeping in bed in the midground, and an abstract background blending outer space sky and beam-like shapes. But there are other layers that can be perceived. It could be seen as a variation on “the Annunciation,” that revered moment in the Bible when the angel Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary to tell her she will give birth to Jesus. It could also be seen in an erotic context, with the astronaut figure attempting a rendezvous with the woman.
Below, in a Q&A, we learn more about the artist. Angela Yang discusses inspiration, the act of creating, what excites her about today’s art world, and more.
What is your artistic philosophy?
I don’t think there’s any philosophy that I have internally, but I respect the fact that all philosophies are present at this moment, [a kind of] free-for-all. I look toward anything that just strikes my fancy, within art history, and I pull from that. There’s nothing really specific that I feel like I have to be attached to.
What is your relationship to inspiration?
We have a very weird sort of relationship. It’s always there, it’s an on-and-off-again sort of romance…you’re just lovers forever, but you’re not always together all the time.
I like to say when the muses strike, the muses want to be around, then they’re around.
Among your chosen mediums, which one were you drawn to first?
Painting, always painting. It’s the one that I always go back to. I can’t really leave it.
How has your work changed as you have progressed as an artist and added more sections to your artist bio?
Definitely the style has changed. I think the quality also. I’m a lot [keener] on trying to deliver something that looks finished and trying to pace myself. Slowing down during my work more, and also thinking about it more, revisiting it. I’m noticing that years later, I’ll look back at a painting, and…there’s a new facet to it, a new sort of interpretation, that I wasn’t necessarily aware of before, but it might have been in my subconscious while I was making it.
What do you consider your greatest artistic accomplishment?
There have been a few paintings that I’ve done a lot faster than I normally would do them, and they look a lot more finished… So, I always feel like that’s an accomplishment when I kind of outdo myself... It’s also nice to get recognition, for a piece that I’ve worked on for a while. When somebody says they like your work, that always feels good.
When you are absorbed in artistic creation, what are the inner and outer selves of Angela Yang doing?
Usually, it’s just like meditation. I zone out for the most part…I usually will play a cartoon or music…it’s usually something that I’ve already watched, so I have that kind of streaming in my head. So, I’m visualizing one thing, but I’m painting another. It’s a kind of weird in-between state that my brain goes into.
And then my body is just sitting in a position or standing in a position, and painting… It’s oddly disconnected and oddly connected at the same time.
Do you set out to work in a particular medium, or is it completely spontaneous?
It’s kind of spontaneous. Usually, I’ll have either a feeling that I’ll start working with, and an image usually comes from that. Sometimes I’ll just get an image in my head… There are certain images that I’ll have, and I’ll know instantly that that’s a flat painting that needs to be done in acrylic on panel. Or that’s a painting that’s going to have more dimension, so I’m going to want to use oil and I want to put it on canvas. And my style has changed depending on the medium that I’m working in.
How do your artistic processes differ whether you’re working on a painting, mixed media work, or installation?
I think the process in general with everything is pretty methodical. When it comes together, with installation, it’s more, OK, I can let that go. I’ll substitute this for that, whereas with painting, I don’t let myself do that.
With acrylics, it’s almost a paint-by-numbers scenario. Everything is very flat and regimented and starts looking much more abstract. And then, with the oils, it’s more figurative, and it looks…significantly more realistic than an abstract colour field being put together.
How do you find materials for your mixed media/installation pieces?
Like most artists, I’m a little bit of a packrat. I have a lot of junk in the nooks and crannies of my apartment. Thrift stores, Craigslist, wherever I can find it.
What are you most excited about in the present day related to art?
I’m excited that everyone’s really getting into it… people realizing they have these hidden talents…they’re starting to acknowledge them. They’re figuring out what inspires them, they’re letting themselves be inspired, which is, really, very exciting.
What are your art world aspirations?
Helping people emotionally, and personally, and spiritually, whatever level I can help people on, that’s what the goal really is. That’s what I would love to do. That would be my greatest achievement as an artist, to help other people feel comfortable, feel self-aware, and inspire them in any way that I possibly can.
March 8 is International Women’s Day, what does that day mean to you and how do you celebrate it?
I kind of, in my mind, celebrate it…every day, so it’s not really a particular day. Yes and no.
Do you use any Arteza products?
I’m going to be using them a lot more, especially a really nice metallic set. So, when I start making more of my abstract landscapes with the metallic finish, I’ll be experimenting with Arteza products soon.