Visual Artist, New York NY
My art explorations are centered on the concepts of time, place and history. I depict issues facing contemporary society through the use of graphic iconography, photography, and mixed media.
Signs of the Times: On the Road of Human History series serves as a historical showcase of major world events, making use of increasingly dominant forms of mass communications via Universal Graphic Icons and Symbols. By applying these characteristics towards depiction of the major historical event, I attempt to establish a broader pattern of the human nature regardless of the country or continent. Keeping true to the purpose of signs, they are both, informational and warning devices, indicating who we are in the present and where we are headed in the future.
The ongoing photo essay, “Right Place. Right Time,” celebrates daily uniqueness of the human experience captured in the style of street photography. Random and unscripted, the images reveal a very specific place and time, reinforced by the utilization of info graphics. Thus also serving both as a historical archive, the indicator of the ever-present and, to some extent, “imposed” role of technological forms of communication and aesthetics in our contemporary life and culture. By framing that moment within the map, I attempt to pull it from the superficial and technologically-generated landscape of abstract information, and focus on the humanity behind it. Its unique set of characteristics, stories and imperfections are revealed simply by observing; and by being at the right place and the right time to capture it.
Big Data. 2008-2011
Statistics are a uniquely human way of presenting and analyzing information. From marketing, science, politics, economy, to relationships, they claim to give us facts about any topic imaginable. They do so by breaking down complexities of emotion and human experience into lines of color and shapes.
I create statistics out of the desire to achieve visually stimulating compositions based on personal appeal. Similarly to the way some statisticians may choose to present their research by arranging facts to their liking in order to illustrate their opinion or influence an agenda. By drawing a parallel between the act of art making and data charting, I attempt to question the over-reliance and over-saturation of Big Data in all aspects of our lives as sources of truth. But the only undisputed fact is that a chart is always a product of its maker.
InLOVE magazine: Where are you from/where did you grow up, if different?
I was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Several years after the breakup of the USSR, in 1995, my family immigrated to New York City. I was 15 then. In retrospect, this now seems as a heroic move on my parents’ part to leave behind the comfort of the life they knew, friends they grew up with, in exchange for the unknown. It was a tremendous risk, but it was worth it!
InLOVE magazine: What culture do you feel most closely tied to?
Having spent my early formative years in the Russian tradition, and then almost overnight being transplanted into the American one, I am still a little bit of both – Eastern and Western. However, leaning much more towards Western as time goes by. The experiences of early upbringing, and values that my parents had instilled in me provided for a solid foundation. They taught me to appreciate art and culture and surround myself with people of good character. America taught me the value of freedom, expression and healthy ambition. The United States still remains one of those rare places on the planet, where if you really want something, you can achieve it. There are opportunities available if you are motivated and willing to seek them out, and do the hard work. So yes, I suppose I tap from each well, depending on the circumstance. While I am American, my accent remains Russian. So there you have it! Speaking of dualities, one of the reasons why I gave myself a pseudonym (York) but kept the first name was because I am both the product of my birth place and the country that I now call home. And of course it’s also because I really love this city; it’s a tribute of sorts.
InLOVE magazine: Do you think your culture is reflected in your work?
I’d like to think so. The core of my work is about contemporary world and our collective experiences as members of one human race. And since the world is now to some extent borderless as a result of technology and constant influx of information, my art reflects this landscape. I use the concept of informational graphic icons to record pivotal moments in history, and since there are only visuals and numbers, it speaks to every culture regardless of the geographical location. Overtime, I seek to build a historical visual archive of this specific period of time. In a sense, this is a life-long project for me. There is a lot of unrest on the global scale-taking place at this time, so it won’t be pretty, but it’s the truth, and it must be done.
InLOVE magazine: Describe a regular day-in-the-life (your daily routine)?
I am a full time working artist, with a day job. My days are rather unromantic – I work at an advertising agency in order to support my art career. And when I come home to my studio I get to work on my own art deep into the night. Then, rise and repeat! But this is where also loving the photographic medium is such a joy, as it helps to interrupt this routine. It doesn’t require much effort to carry a camera – which I do daily as I commute from home to work. I capture unusual moments in New York’s life; to me personally, the greatest appeal of street photography is the adrenaline rush you get, when you are suddenly presented with a unique image. It shakes you up, and gets your heart pumping. You only have seconds to capture it, before it’s gone forever. And if you succeed at doing that, you feel alive and filled with the renewed sense of purpose. It’s one of the best feelings you can count on, being an artist.
InLOVE magazine: How did you become interested in your career?
I was rather shy and introverted growing up. But one thing that I excelled at was drawing. Drawing led to painting, which led to other things. My childhood home had a good collection of quality art books, with reproductions of top European and Russian artists. I used to spend many hours sitting and studying them, absorbing, and trying to replicate some of them. My Grandfather too, had a knack for drawing. He never did it professionally, but I remember being very impressed by his sketches. Perhaps that’s how it all started.
InLOVE magazine: Can you explain what your mission is in your life?
My mission is to live the life of purpose, and being able to make a satisfying living doing what I love – Art. And perhaps, if I am lucky, to have a family one day. But creative goals do come first, and I have a feeling they always will.
InLOVE magazine: What are some of the challenges that you face as you work towards reaching your goals?
Not having enough time in the day to do everything I’d like to do is the biggest hurdle. There are so many other distractions and responsibilities that get in the way of work – day-to-day reality.
InLOVE magazine: What are some of the most interesting places you’ve traveled to for your projects?
I haven’t travelled recently for my current work direction. These days all I need is the internet connection to be informed, and a computer to do the work. But when I was in college, I spent the entire summer in Italy studying art history at the British Institute of Florence. On the weekends, I traveled neighboring cities writing my observations in a journal, making sketches, painting watercolors and meeting locals. This invaluable trip was made possible by a generous stipend from The Newington-Cropsey Foundation Academy of Art, up in the Hastings-on-Hudson. Back then I was studying sculpture under both very different but very accomplished sculptors – Greg Wyatt and Joseph Petrovics. Greg’s work can be seen in many parts of this country, and in Europe. His style is an elaborate kind of spiritual realism, resulting in large-scale bronze pieces combing human and animal forms and nature shapes. Joseph’s work on the other hand is very conceptual, minimal, and abstract, where every turn and angle is deliberately contemplated. While working in bronze and wood, his preferred medium is stone. Both of these artists are exceptionally good at what they do, and they go out of their way to help young artists.
InLOVE magazine: What’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had while doing your work?
There were probably many, but I remember photographing in Central Park one autumn weekend, there was a street entertainer creating enormous soap bubbles for the crowds. He was surrounded by children who were like birds flocking towards those giant colorful orbs, swarming around them and gleefully popping them. Both children and their parents were having a great time. Meanwhile, I was too busy trying to capture the wonder and excitement in their eyes. Watching them, I felt transported back to the carefree wonder of my own childhood, and it was the greatest feeling. It’s also one of my best images I photographed that year and perhaps even to date.
InLOVE magazine: What would you say is one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in your life, career?
How quickly things can take a turn from good to bad to great and back to the starting point again. We can do our best, make plans, but there is no telling what will happen. Most of it is random. I suppose take both, triumphs and losses with a calm grace and the dose of reality. But always thank people who help you. We are all strangers to each other, and if someone does a good thing for you, make sure you never forget it, and return the favor at the next opportunity. But if someone treats you poorly, there is no point in returning the ill will. Offer them a hug instead, if you can. Perhaps lack of love is what motivates their bitterness. Forgive and move on. Who knows, that person may even become your best friend! It’s the only way we can all exist in harmony – personally and professionally.
InLOVE magazine: When have you been most satisfied in your life?
Every time I finish the project that exceeds my initial expectations, or when I happen to capture a great moment on camera, is what does it for me.
InLOVE magazine: Who is your role model, and why?
My role models always were and always will be my parents. I’ve had many setbacks. But if there were one thing that I draw upon as my source of strength, it would be the love they gave me from my earliest years. To this day, it is incomparable to anything I have yet to encounter. I hope to be able to enjoy it for many more years. My younger sister is also quite a gem! We are a little different. I am an artist, and she does international relations. But I couldn’t have asked for a better sister. I love her beyond words!
InLOVE magazine: Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider the most significant in your career.
I hope those big moments are still up ahead, but one of the most memorable events in my art career so far was involvement in the national sculpture project, also through The Newington-Cropsey Foundation. It was part of the Garden of Great Ideas program that Greg Wyatt spearheaded. The program was about giving promising art students opportunities in creating sculptures based on a chosen topic, and having the finished work installed on campuses of two Universities – Vanderbilt and Georgetown. It was a great time in my life. I was 21, full of energy, optimistic with big dreams, and having my very first bronze sculpture at Georgetown University Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. To me the irony of it was that, back then I wasn’t even a citizen, and yet there I was, having my own creation installed in the capital of my newly adopted country. It felt surreal, and that never actually fully sunk in. Perhaps I should take a trip there sometime, just to check whether it’s still there and I haven’t dreamt it all up!
InLOVE magazine: What’s your superpower, or what’s your spirit urge?
Peace, love and mutual understanding are the things my spirit urges, for our currently troubled world. Why can’t we get along?
InLOVE magazine: What inspires you in your every day life?
I am moved by the idea of being able to make a difference through creativity. We all have talents that we can put to use. I do what I can with mine, and hope to be able to do more in the years to come.
InLOVE magazine: What’s the most unusual/best/remarkable?
Love. It’s the force behind both creation and destruction.
InLOVE magazine: What motivates you? What gets you up in the morning?
Aside from a very determined alarm clock, what motivates me in the morning, and gets me going, is the promise of another day in which I can capture a unique moment; and meet someone new and exciting – both of which happen very often and at random. I am very curios about people, in general. In fact, the older I get the less hesitation I feel about striking up a conversation with a stranger who makes an impression on me and inspires curiosity. New York is the best place to meet unique individuals. I feel lucky to have met some very interesting people this way.
InLOVE magazine: What are your hobbies?
Only family and close friends know this, but I actually began music studies long before seriously pursuing visual arts. My Mom at that time was a piano teacher at the Pedagogical University, and the expectation was that I too would go into the musical direction. I studied piano since about age 5, but eventually my interest waned. And it wasn’t until I turned 7 or 8, when my father accidently came across a flyer advertising classical guitar classes that my music studies resumed. It was difficult at first, but I stuck with it through many years, and to this day I do my best to keep up with a very demanding work schedule and my practice. It really helped me in very many ways. I think from all the musical instruments out there, classical guitar is the most delicate and powerful at the same time. But I could be a little bias in this personal opinion!
InLOVE magazine: What is your favorite color and how do you think it reflects on your personality?
My favorite color is turquoise. I am not sure why this is. I could simply be because my father used to create exquisite pieces of handmade jewelry, first as a hobby, and later on commission. Turquoise and corals were the materials he liked to use a lot in his work. And I loved watching him work. I remember falling asleep to the sounds of his equipment that was positioned on the opposite side of my bedroom. The tools he used, he also mostly put together himself. He did a lot of things with his hands, building improvements around the apartment. I recall standing and starring at the jewelry-crafting process for long periods of time. For example, I was mesmerized at the sight of the sliver powder swiftly rolling into a tiny ball, at the lick of a flame. It was like magic to me, and those observations left a lasting impression. He started small, making pieces for my Mom, but as the word spread among friends, commissions started pouring in, and soon he was significantly supplementing his full time job income, working as a physicist at the Tashkent’s Institute of Electronics, with the income from his hobby. It was the 80s, and Soviet salaries generally didn’t really amount to much, just the basics…
InLOVE magazine: What is one thing no one really knows about you? (i.e. are you secretly an amazing pastry chef, etc.)
Ahh! If I were to reveal all of my secrets, there would be nothing left to discover. I’d rather keep the mystery alive for now…