Inside the Artist's Studio
BY CHRISTINA FLOYD
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC CAHAN
"That is a 1952 Silver Cloud Airstream. We got it through the doors with one inch to spare. I use it as an office or private space in the studio"
“I'm like a crab, and the studio is my shell,” says Dustin Yellin about his space in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he has been working for the past five years. “There is the tendency to keep constructing, building, like a bowerbird might. I came here because the scale of my sculpture was too large for anything but a groundfloor studio, and this location was empty back then.”
All around the studio, Yellin has objects that he has found and organized into altars—assemblages of things that serve as his general inspiration for drawings and sculpture. “One day I would love to have a museum cabinet of all this stuff and contextualize it with all of the art I have created,” he says. “Recently, I traded a small work for the jawbone of a sperm whale, so this 12-foot mouth is roped up to the ceiling swinging like a dinosaur’s tail.”
Yellin is well known for his unique style of making sculptures by laying down collage elements in between layers of glass, then sealing the work with resin. Ten to 20 people work with him at any given time, and always on a number of projects. He is currently creating an 18-foot triptych that will be his largest work to date; he hopes to display it this fall in a public space in New York, organized by his dealer, Vito Schnabel. “Sometimes it feels like a summer camp,” he says about the energetic studio environment. “We barbecue together, people come over and make music, and ping-pong is the game of choice. It is surreal to see it all happen. It used to be me alone in a tent pouring resin into wooden boxes. Now it’s like directing a film, or maybe a circus.”
While not in the studio in body, many of Yellin’s artist friends occupy the space in spirit: He collects drawings by Ernesto Caivano, Benjamin Degen, Yuri Masnyj and the Lansing-Dreiden collective, to name a few, and looks to their works “for inspiration and advice.” Yet these are not his only muses; Yellin also cites the likes of Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, Joseph Beuys, Willem de Kooning, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst “and so many more.” dustinyellin.com