Sydney Yeager

Episode 67 · August 24th, 2019 · 56 mins 18 secs

About this Episode

"My most recent work there seems to be more of an embrace going on between parts as opposed to these diverse parts fitting together, maintaining their diversity. They seem now to be more a part of each other. That’s a mystery to me."

Sydney Yeager is an artist who describes her current painting style as gestural abstraction. She also teaches drawing and painting at Austin Community College. Teaching has been a part of her life from early on, but it wasn’t until after she had kids and decided to go back to school that she committed to studying art in a serious way. We talk about her history and what motivated her early work and how that has evolved over the years. We also touch on materials, teaching, being a huge art history fan, the Austin art scene and more.

Statement courtesy of Sydney's website

I keep returning to a beautiful quotation which has become something of a touchstone for me. The quotation is from Italo Calvino’s book, Mr. Palomar, and is a description of a flock of blackbirds flying over Rome. The narrator describes the flock as a “…moving body composed of hundreds and hundreds of bodies, detached, but together forming a single object…something…that even in fluidity achieves a formal solidity of its own.”

This idea of independent parts coalescing into a whole, only to collapse again into singular units, is one that has interested me for many years. Inherent in this idea is a sense of continuity, but a continuity constantly threatened with disintegration. It also suggests a state of suspension, where hierarchy yields to endless associations and connections.

In addition to these conceptual interests are more concrete references. Some are from the world around me: geologic formations (specifically the unstable limestone walls so common in Central Texas), pixels, and atoms. Some are artistic references, including Italian mosaic, pointillism, process painting, and pattern and decoration.

These diverse influences hold in common the theme of fragmentation. The question is whether these fragments are nostalgic reminders of a past presence, or conversely, the beginnings of a new form. The answer is never clear, which is why I remain interested in the question.

swimmer | oil on linen | 60x72 | 2019

naiad #2 | oil on linen | 72x60 | 2019

Some of the subjects we discuss:

Photo use
Early history
Back to school
Growing up
Gang mentality
Narrative work
Limited art world
Informal class
Elisabet Ney
Supportive friends
Imposter syndrome
Art school
Transgressive work
Changing direction
Life & death work
Interior view/mortality
Towards abstract
People seeing work
Being open
Figure ground
The blank canvas
Jumping in
Flow state
Love of paint
Style evolution
Art history
Women & Their Work
Teaching in overseas
Studio in Elgin
What’s next
Austin art scene
Generational gap
Being an artist

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Intro music generously provided by Stan Killian

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