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Art as a Disappearing Act:
A Conversation with Dustin Yellin

by Michaël Amy


Dustin Yellin’s sense of wonder seems to come from another age. In his view, there is nothing quite as extraordinary as the rhythms, forms, and patterns found in nature. He surrounds himself with objects drawn from the worlds of fauna, flora, and minerals, as well as manmade things, ranging from the commonplace to the sublime, provided these things are unusual. One of his passions is collecting, and his eclectic aesthetic belongs to the cabinet of curiosities.

His highly idiosyncratic vision is somewhat tempered by locking the objects of his fascination in singular isolation inside clear blocks of resin so that they appear immobile and suspended in time and space: the figure of an astronaut, the skeletal, circulatory, and nervous systems of a life-sized man, a spine, kelp fronds, an insect, a heart, a poured abstraction, a skull. Although most of these images appear believable, Yellin invents quite a few, taking existing forms as his point of departure. And although his encased objects seem tangible, they dematerialize gradually and then suddenly as one walks around them, for they are not really solid but built up incrementally by drawing on separate layers of the composite resin blocks. When the layers fall parallel to our line of sight, the image disappears, thereby alluding to the ephemerality of all things. When Yellin encases ready-made objects—a less labor-intensive approach—we can see full views. Recently, he has been shaping the resin blocks in prefabricated molds, so that they might form a large, wave-like motif on one face or rise as half of a sphere from the ground, like a large magnifying glass enlarging a specimen. Yellin presents us with a garden of earthly, and seemingly otherworldly, delights.

Installation view with (left to right) If Ink Was Blood (Woman), 2009; The Invisible Man, 2009; If Ink Was Blood (Man), 2009. Resin, acrylic, and ink, 71.75 x 23.7 x 3.25 in. each.


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