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An interview with: Carl Yonder

ASTRAL speak with visionary contemporary American artist, Carl Yonder.

Citing Edgar Degas, Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso as influences, Carl Yonder's surreal expressionist paintings are a beauty to behold. Yonder's vivid imagination shines through his work and allows the viewer to create their own meaning, explaining how;

"...rather than conveying a specific story to the viewer, I create work with the goal of inspiring a new story within the viewer. All I can do is capture the images that inspire me and ask the viewer to sit with the work, think about what they are seeing, trust their feelings."

Mother Earth (2020)

Drawing inspiration from tarot, ancient history and transcendental meditation, his art is born from the subconscious and manifests itself in vivid colourful forms open to interpretation. More of his work can be found at his website & instagram. Read on below for our interview where we discuss his origins, creative flow state and love of ancient history....

Priestess (2021)

Where are you from and how has your environment impacted you ?

"I grew up a Military Brat so we as a family moved around quite a lot in the United States and spent four and a half years in Okinawa Japan, so there was always a sense of being from everywhere and nowhere at any given time. Simply put, I think this really helped shape my work because I draw inspiration from everywhere. Moving all of the time my parents and art were the two biggest constants in my life...

Bedouin (2020)
...I was always creating my own comic characters and when I got to high school I had art teachers who suggested I look at fine art to see how they drew and that got me to drop comics entirely and dive head first into traditional fine art. I spent several years just reading and absorbing everything I could get my hands on, seeing how the artists I was first introduced to were inspired by artists before them and seeing how they influenced future artists."

Isis (2021)

What does spirituality mean to you? How / does it inform your practice as an artist ?

"When in a creative flow state, I would say I am very spiritual, I do my best to leave my ego at the studio door and be as receptive to any greater sensory or cosmic influences happening within me and blurring the lines between myself and my art in the moment. I think artists going back to the very beginning of humankind have always wondered where do “our ideas” come from, and when I first started out I was curious myself...

Hunters & Gatherers (2020)
...It’s natural to wonder, I look at some of my work and I can say with a great deal of certainty where an idea came from but other pieces, I have no idea, and that mystery keeps me exploring and often leads to additional ideas and work. A few years back my partner got me a gift voucher to try a Sensory Deprivation Float Tank experience and that was a pivotal turning point creatively for me. As an artist, to turn off any external stimulation and go inward really opened up a literally world in my mind of ideas, images and feelings that inspired new work...

Yellow Bird (2020)
...those experiences lead me to learning Transcendental Meditation which I would say is the most important creative and spiritual practice I do. Meditating really allows me the opportunity to not just journey inward but really helps me bridge the external and internal worlds. As an artist this means I can create work inspired and influenced by one another, where I am less focused where the ideas come from but more focused on capturing these ideas and creating work to hopefully inspire the viewer to create their own stories."

Parasol (2021)

When did you first begin to explore ideas surrounding the astral, subconscious and ancient history?

"My interest in ancient history is really two fold, one I love the mystery around ancient history. There is so much we know and continue to make discoveries but there is still so much we don’t know, and it’s within that unknown that really lets my imagination a blaze. I love how much of the art from ancient history we theorise is about showing everyday life, but also somewhat instructional...

Metal Plates (2008)
...Carvings on bones from early humans show the types of animals hunted and some believe may be used to show how to hunt these animals. This is what is so interesting, art going back to the very beginning used to document and more importantly tell a story. And with my own goals of my work of storytelling it fits perfectly as a source of inspiration...

Midnight (2020)
...The other reason I love ancient history and more specifically ancient art is the surreal imagery used, simple lines and shapes capturing everything needed that hundreds and thousands of years later we recognise but the art has bizarre designs and images that seem so foreign but so inspiring. As far as my love of astral images, it goes back to the idea of storytelling, early humans looking up at a bright sky and using this grand canvas to tell a story...

Coven (2020)
...Over generations and generations some of these stories held up, others faded away and others morphed and changed but it’s all about storytelling. There was a quote about what really sets us apart from all other forms of life is we tell stories, and that is really what my work is about, creating work that captures is all about the idea of storytelling and inspiring you the viewer to become a Storyteller."

Nemean Lion (2020)

How has Transcendental Meditation helped you / does that play into your work in any way?

"Transcendental Meditation helps clear my mind, meditating at the beginning of the day and again in the late afternoon really helps me 'declutter.' For example if I am struggling with an idea or a painting it allows me to remove myself from the situation. And after meditating, I find my mind is clearer and when re-approaching the idea or painting it's like I am more focused and see it from a whole new perspective...

Thoughts and Prayers (2018)
...From this new perspective you can work yourself out of a corner or take the image or idea in a whole new direction that still builds upon its original intent. Most if not all of my work is about exploring the subconscious, I think of it as looking through a National Geographic of the mind and Transcendental Meditation really allows me access to the subconscious effortlessly where I am more often just documenting what I am seeing and feeling. For me it's just as important as sketching with my creative process and the type of work I am setting out to create."



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