Circumspection implies considering your actions carefully before moving forward. Such is the case with both American artist Karen Yank, and Israeli artist, Drew Tal. Yank was awarded a prestigious art award to study at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in New York, in 1987. Her teacher was the celebrated–if reclusive–New Mexico minimalist artist, Agnes Martin. Yank relocated with her family to New Mexico, where she still lives today. Her friendship with Agnes Martin would continue for two decades, until Martin’s death in 2004.
Agnes Martin often told Yank she was her only “real” student. She passed on her opinions about artistic process and philosophy to Yank. While Martin is well known for her grid drawings and line paintings, Yank sought a different shape. Martin’s horizontal line was reminiscent of the distant New Mexican horizon line, uninterrupted by natural form. Yank, however, saw the circle as the most perfect shape for her sculpture. From earliest civilization, the circle has represented the life-giving force of the sun; eternity; fertility, divinity. Yank created a large body of work using the circle, often with referencing Martin in her use of the line within her circles, as is evident in her piece called “Thrice” as well as in her “XO” series.
For Drew Tal, his environment produced circumspection, as he states, “Growing up in Israel in the ’60’s, was a blessing for me. At that time in history the young state was a true melting pot for millions of immigrants from all around the globe. Surrounded with such a colorful collage of ethnicities, languages, nationalities, cultures and religions made me realize from an early age that the world beyond me was a rich and complex place. This revelation opened my eyes to the exotic, and made me extremely curious about people and their religions, customs, costumes and histories.”
While Israel has experienced much political strife during Tal’s lifetime, he regards each human being as equally sacred, regardless of ethnicity or religion.