Meet Hera Artist MJ Yeager, one of the artist's whose work is part of our current exhibition, Something Between Us. MJ's work encompasses collage, painting, drawing and assemblage.
"I make art because I am an artist. I have a vivid recollection at a very young age of a red crayon and a coloring book page from a catechism coloring book of Jesus...and me coloring very much out of the lines."
Tell us your artist story, some biographical info, when did you decide to be an artist? Why do you make art? Where did you study? Etc.
I make art because I am an artist. I have a vivid recollection at a very young age of a red crayon and a coloring book page from a catechism coloring book of Jesus...and me coloring very much out of the lines. A little later on in my life I became amazed at the whole tactile experience of playing with ColorForms. I can almost smell the plastic. The shiny vinyl shapes placed ever so thoughtfully into their rightful spot on an equally shiny black surface was quite possible where and when my passion for graphic design originated.
Years later as a junior in high school, art class was interrupted one day by a representative from the small private art school in Pittsburgh called The Ivy School of Professional Art. The faculty included all artists who were either successfully making fine art or working as commercial artists in the city of Pittsburgh. The representative was very well put together in tweed, a bow tie and was extremely articulate. This quality was highly underrepresented in the farmland suburbs of my youth. In that very moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
My career as a graphic designer/art director started in 1976 and wrapped up in 2010. I spent several years teaching art to elementary level children and I credit them for returning me to fine art. Thanks to that red crayon I continue to create way out of the lines.
What do you want people to walk away with after experiencing your work?
I don’t have an expectation of anyone having any experience when they view my work. I suppose it’s because I know that the kind of work I make is entirely my own can be somewhat provocative and at very least mildly curious. That knowledge is the only experience that I myself wish to have when I see the work. I can only guess that something of the viewing experience lingers for each viewer as well.
What influences your work? Why?
I have been practicing yoga for most of 24 years and teaching it for six. The studies in this work I’ve expanded my experience in and of the world in every possible way. In addition, all five of my senses are the deeply influential of the manifestation of my work. The eyes being the primary tool in how the "art" arrives in my mind/heart space, it is at that point in which a magical alchemy occurs. Art is already formulating in my brain and I generally see it as complete and wonderful.
Why are you a member of Hera?
15 years ago my family and I stood across the street from what was the Chamber of Commerce. I saw two things of great interest one was a yoga wellness center, the other was very quaint and curious art gallery right next to it tucked back between two buildings. The first time I stepped into the space I knew something special was happening there. It was not your every day gallery. As I explored the history of the place and followed the exhibits for the years to come, it occurred to me one day. Why would I not want to become a member myself? I had amassed a significant body of work at that point, works which were deeply influenced by my graphic design background in the way of blended media. When I sat with the board members to discuss the possibility of membership I felt simultaneously welcomed and immediately inspired to make more work.
I recently sat with one of the original founders and to explain to her how deeply grateful I feel having had the experience to blossom into the artist that I am this very day.