Olga Yokhno: What do you mean by collaboration?

Olga Yukhno

Collaborating means to work jointly to produce or create something.

To me, it is more fun to work with someone because I get to know the other person. For example, I had met Olga previously because she and my wife both belong to the Midlands Clay Association and they both create sculptures using clay. But now, instead of being my wife’s colleague, she was my collaborator. We shared ideas and we worked side-by-side to create her portrait.

The goal for her portrait was to express the idea that her artworks are inspired by the underlying feelings of other people. The first step, again, is to create a Pinterest board.

I decided to take “underlying” literally. Boats are on the surface of water and fish might swim below. A montage may have an image on one layer partly obscuring or blending with a different image below. Someone—usually a child—may read an interactive book; the child lifts something to see what is revealed below. I showed this Pinterest board to Olga, who then selected the third image from the left on the bottom row. We used this image as inspiration for our own creation.

Olga and her husband then visited my studio. I photographed them as well as one of Olga’s sculptures and a photo album that Olga values for sentimental reasons. After making a print of her husband, Olga helped by cutting his shape from the plain background. She also cut the moveable flap. Then Olga chose the words and wrote them in the space under the flap. Olga also had the great idea of adding “brain waves” on the underside of the flap. It was my responsibility to assemble all of the pieces in the photo editing software called Photoshop.

Collaborating is also fun because I always learn something new. For example, I didn’t realize that Olga was such a people watcher and that she was inspired by imagining others’ feelings. But the idea makes sense. So much of art is about conveying emotions, so why not begin an artwork with an emotion? And the catalyst doesn’t always have to be the artists’ feelings; it could be another person’s or a dog’s, bird’s, or stream’s “feelings.” Fortunately, I was not the only one who enjoyed our collaboration. Olga said, “Creating my portrait was such a fascinating collaboration! It gave me a lot of food for thought and turned out to be a true source of inspiration.”