YoYo Lander Owns Feminine Vulnerability

Lander’s works prove to inhabit a distinct contrast in shade and color. She achieves this by painting in watercolors and collaging her own works together – repurposing them into fragile portraits of identity. The vulnerability is palpable, but strength overrides any trepidation one might find within her works. Holding a particular interest in women and femininity, she finds beauty in the unexpected nature of watercolors, and the fact that they perfectly mimic the unpredictable and distinctive human body. Specifically in her works where the sitter is posed in a red chair, the dimension and texture achieved through her watercolor and collage technique adds layers of additional sentiment. It makes you look at her works and see some part of yourself. We all share common feelings, from joy and love to shame and even fear. YoYo Lander reminds us of the commonality in these emotions, especially now, and that sometimes it might just be ok to not be ok.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from originally and when did art first enter your life?
My name is YoYo Lander. I’m a Los Angeles based artist originally from South Carolina. I’ve always been an artist since I can remember. I’ve never wanted to do anything else except create. I could never keep a job. Every job I’ve ever had I was always either fired or asked “not to come back,” so in those times I turned to creativity and that has always sustained me.
Courtesy of the artist
We heard you just had a show in LA, how did it go? What is your relationship to galleries like?
Yes, my artwork is featured in the annex portion of Band of Vices and the series is called, Time Off. The work has been received very well! I also have a piece in a group show at CFHILL Gallery in Stockholm, Sweden. Working with galleries is pretty cool and straight forward, it’s always worked out well for me.
Courtesy of the artist
How would you describe a perfect day in the studio?
A perfect day in the studio are those days when I can work 12 hours straight with no mental or physical distractions. It would be a day where I begin my day around 6:30am. Right around the time the sun begins it’s day. I put on my 10 hour smooth jazz mix and get to work. Those days are so special and as perfect as perfect can be. A full 10-12 hours in the studio is magical.
Courtesy of the artist
What medium do you work in and how is color important to you?
I like to work with watercolors. I like the uncertainty of them. I like how each watercolor reacts to water and other watercolors very differently. The outcome is never what I expect, but it exceeds my expectations every time. I like how with watercolor there is freedom to mess up, but those mistakes can be beautiful if they are placed correctly.
Courtesy of the artist

Has your work always taken on the style it currently embodies?

My work has evolved tremendously and I plan to continue evolving. Often times my hands can’t keep up with my ideas. I’ve always had this style in my back pocket. The artwork is a completely different experience in person than it is via a photograph. So I stayed away from this style because of that for a long time because I didn’t think people would understand it.
Courtesy of the artist

From where do you draw inspiration?

I draw inspiration from all that surrounds me. Music, friends, strangers, deep conversations, relationships, my parents, my family. But mostly the complex lives and thoughts of women.
Courtesy of the artist

What type of feeling do you think your works convey?

I think when people see my work, the work feels very familiar to them. Perhaps they have found themselves in the position(s) of my subjects at one point in their lives. I like what movement and body language can convey, so maybe when they see the work, they just get it.

Courtesy of the artist
Do you find it ever difficult to sell a piece because of an emotional attachment you might have?
No, because I want others to experience the work. I get to sit with each piece for quite some time, and sure I always miss them, but I have memories and pictures…and that’s enough.
Courtesy of the artist

What source material do you base your work off of?

A mixture between my imagination and whoever is posing for me.
Does your work reference any Art Historical movements or individuals?
No, but maybe one day I may consider that. I prefer my subject to be unrecognizable. I really want to emphasize body language rather than their face. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but generally speaking this is the case.
Installation view for group show. Work is far left corner. Courtesy of the artist.
What do you have planned post-pandemic?
I have 4 group shows coming up through September 2021, so I’m working on creating work and coming up for ideas for all of those shows now while the world is on pause.
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
Knowledge Bennett. He’s amazing.