“Meet an Artist Monday” is an ongoing series of mini Q&As with some of L.A.’s most active and eclectic contemporary artists, introducing themselves to you in their own words. This week, we meet mixed-media artist Andre Yi, whose practice involves aspects of sculpture, painting, drawing, assemblage and collage.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ANDRE YI: I must have been 5 or 6, [and] my father was extremely impressed with a drawing I had done. He hung it over the thermostat in the living room. Every time his friends would come, he would brag about his son being an amazing artist! Honestly, at the time, all I could think about was how much that drawing was absolute crap. I had better ideas in my head but I had a hard time getting it out. I guess it was because I was 6.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I cannot imagine life without making art. So in this situation, I must have joined a cult somewhere in New Mexico.
Did you go to art school? Why or why not?
Going to art school to learn about art was a given, but the real reason I went to art school was to be in an environment of creative people. Cranbrook Academy of Art was such a great place to be immersed around artists, discussing art and having time in the studio to explore new ideas. I also met my wife, Samantha Fields, in art school. After a while, they kick you out, otherwise I would still be there.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
As a young artist I always wanted to live in New York. However, the reality was quite different from the expectation. In 1999, the weeks before moving from New York to Los Angeles, I walked through the few remaining galleries in SoHo (before they all moved to Chelsea). They were all showing L.A. artists — Paul McCarthy, Chris Burden, Mike Kelly, Jason Rhoades. I started to wonder, “Why am I here?” L.A. was just as interesting as New York, with much cheaper rent and better weather. That’s when I made the decision to move to L.A. (rents have since gone up but the weather has remained the same).
When was your first show?
My first exhibition was a group show at White Columns in New York curated by Paul Ha. Paul has given so many young artists their first shows during his tenure at White Columns. He’s such a wonderful person who has had such a positive impact on young artists.
When is or was your current or most recent or next show?
My current show is “Obliterate” at Open Mind Art Space in Westwood. It’s on through Oct. 26. [Editor’s note: That’s this Friday!]
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
Donald Judd. Ideally in Marfa, Texas.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I listen to a lot of different things, but mostly NPR.