A painting by Hannah Yata.
I was flipping through the most recent issue of High Fructose magazine and came across the beyond enchanting artwork of Hannah Yata and was instantly drawn to her intriguing human/animal hybrids which she expertly drenches in vibrant colors. Much of her work includes images of elegant female forms with animal heads (or “masks” as Yata calls them), such as tropical-looking fish—or in one masterful mashup a woman emerging from the water with the head of a hairless Sphynx cat with a set of curved horns. Themes concerning the animal kingdom and the natural world predominate in Yata’s work and with good reason. Raised in a small rural country town in Atlanta, Georgia, Yata was surrounded by the gorgeous environment that runs deep through the lush Kudzu-covered landscape of that state and her love of animals and mother earth became ingrained in her.
When she enrolled in the University of Georgia, she studied several disciplines in addition to art including feminism and psychology. As I mentioned, Yata’s extensive use of the feminine form in her work speaks volumes about her core values, which the artist spoke about in depth in an interview with WOWxWOW back in 2014. As the topic of female objectification and rape culture is once again burning up our social media feeds, here’s Yata on the moment she realized she was a feminist and how she channeled the power of that revelation into her artwork:
“For me, it started in a class in college that studied the history of bodies in art, which basically focused on women. I was floored. I didn’t know I was a feminist before this class. The only things I’d heard about feminists was talk about some girls not shaving their armpits, hating on men, etc. I had never looked into it myself before. When the class began talking about how women are portrayed not only throughout the history of art but especially in the present day, I realized how much it had affected not only me but pretty much every female around me. Yes, I’ve had a lot of men argue that art and advertising does the same thing to men now, fetishizing and sexualizing them in very compromising ways, but the reality is that it isn’t as ridiculous and far-reaching as what women deal with, nor are the consequences as serious. You hear about women getting beaten up, raped, murdered and dismembered daily and I believe this problem is propagated by images and videos that see women as sexual objects and not human beings with agency.”
Her incorporation of animals are also symbolic for the same reasons Yata’s women convey a sense of struggle associated with just trying to exist, specifically, how our behavior and our insatiable consumption for all things as humans continue to decimate the animal kingdom, our natural surroundings, and even our bodies all so our lives can be somehow made “better” because of the abundance of triple bacon cheeseburgers and 72-ounce steaks. Right now Yata’s work is a part of a dual exhibition called “ORIGINS” along with her husband and fellow artist Jean Pierre Arboleda at the Parlor Art Gallery in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The show runs through October 30th. Much of Yata’s exquisite work that follows is NSFW.
One of Yata’s many album covers for Georgia rapper B.o.B. This one comes from the 2015 album, ‘Psycadelik Thoughtz.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Natural History Surrealist Sculpture: Exquisite dreamlike plant-animal hybrids
Unsettling ‘Island of Dr. Moreau’-ish human / animal hybrid sculptures by Deborah Sengl
Animals armed with guns & snake oil salesmen: The confrontational ceramics of Mitchell Grafton
Nightmarish bone-and-metal sculptures of imaginary animals