We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana Yoeli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dana, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Even as a kid I was hyper focused and alert while at the same time all over the place and messy with my stuff and thoughts. I haven’t changed much but I think this tendency to scatter became an advantage. It is an open, intuitive sense of being. After a year and a half of covid-19 life, lockdowns, and isolation I feel that the question of balance needs to be reconsidered. As a self employed artist I’ve been working on my own for a long time. Time management, long term and short term planning, making the work and also teaching and taking care of every aspect of an active studio, were always a part of my practice. When I had children the breadth of responsibility only grew and control over my own time and space for creation only shrank. Somehow, miraculously, I became more efficient with authentic access to my creative self and to the unique state of mind an artist owns in their studio. Its a liminal sensation between life and dream, the outside world and the internal one.This was a gift I received, probably in an exchange with my newly incomprehensible fatigue and lack of time.
Tried and true tricks for creating a supposed balance are many. What works best for me is to set an intention, quite a concrete one, for the day. It can be a list of chores, or specific issues to work out on a sculpture or a bunch of emails to write. Having this intention or plan is an anchor in a life that is abstract and quite lacking in boundaries. Like everyone else in this surreal time, I try to create a synthetic boundary between my work hours and the rest of my time. I keep my phone on flight mode for several hours of the day. It is consuming in a way that damages the depth of focus that I can reach. Other times I just try to accomplish whatever work I can before picking up my kids.
Another great method for making the most of time time is simply to stand rather than sit. I spend a large portion of my work day on my feet and I recommend it to anyone whose thoughts and ideas tend to wander.
I won’t say that I always succeed with boundaries and balance. Sometimes it happens that I work when I’m supposed to not be working. I try not to email or text while making puzzles with my children, or on a date night with a friend or my partner, but I also try to love myself if I have to make an exception. I’m an artist, and it’s a flexible and strange occupation that doesn’t always look the same as others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Tel Aviv based multidisciplinary artist whose practice relies on a wide range of media, constructing large scale installations, porcelain figurines, video work, photography, drawing and sculpture. My work focuses primarily on the tension between a personal story and a collective ethos, and the roles that nostalgia, memory and commemorative ceremonies play in these relations. my most recent body of work “caryatid”, is currently showing at Chelouche Artist Residency space in Jaffa. its a group of porcelain and ceramic works created during this past year, I’ve never worked in this medium before, ceramic sculpture always seemed so “crafty”. my grandmother Agi Yoeli was an amazing ceramic artist and I guess in my heart I was resenting it in a rebellious way. but – I bought an electric kiln and just dove into the practice. I think this is probably the best decision of the year for me.
in regard to the idea of professional success – I’m not even sure how I would define it. I feel much more accomplished today than I used to, not necessarily because of anything objective, rather that I am more accepting of this ever changing tempo of the practice. perhaps the secret is to find pleasure and interest in what you do. after months of cancellations due to covid-19, I am currently working on a great mix of interesting projects and am genuinely looking forward to see what comes out of these projects.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
a good day in Tel Aviv starts early morning at the beach, I love watching the gritty swimmers that show up everyday at every weather, it gives a nice anchor of certainty to your being. than a chill breakfast with some AC and a nice view and a walk to Jaffa. Art gallery visits and perhaps some artist studio visits in the southern part of the city, and then a great dinner. Tel Avivs vegetarian and vegan dining is radically good and later we should drink something, somewhere with outside seating as finally the weather allows it here :). the next days would be dedicated to the unique architectural structures of Israeli kibbutz, a passing institution, quite deteriorating but truly fascinating, this requires a intense travel across the country..
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I always had incredible support from my family, I cherish the love of my partner and my incredibly supportive friends and colleagues. but above all, I would never be where I am if it wasn’t for the encouragement, the strength and the love I received from my two grandmothers growing up.
Roni Cnaani Sima Landa Dana yoeli