Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Name:Yaara [Ya-a-ra] Eshet
Age: 55 years old
Occupation: Artist & Illustrator
Current Location: Toronto, ON
When people hear me talking, they hear the accent and always ask, "Where are you from?" I like to say that I’m from here. That I’m Canadian. However, I am originally from Israel and we immigrated here when I was 40 years old. Around that age some people have a “crisis”, I was too busy with the move that I skipped the crisis. I didn’t have time for a crisis, I was in a new country with three kids and even though I spoke English it wasn’t nearly good enough for everyday life.
We never intended to immigrate to Canada. I had a successful career in Israel. I was working with different newspapers, magazines and working on children's books. I was a full-time illustrator. But, when I came here everything stopped for me. Even though we love it here, it wasn’t an easy decision, and despite the distance from my family and close friends, I feel that this was the right decision for us. I’ve told my kids that I will always be a stranger here. Even though people are very open and accepting of different cultures, it is like I am not fully from here and I am also not from Israel anymore. So, it’s this weird in between.
The beauty of being an artist is you can do art wherever. When I’m making my art in my mind I feel like it’s very straight forward, uncover the things that are right under our nose that people don’t always see. I think that’s what makes a good artist though, being able to make people see things from a different lens. One of the revelations I had here was First Nations’ art and culture. I absolutely adore it. I think it is so beautiful. I have learned so much from it. Being here it is so different; all of it. The people, the nature, the animals, the seasons it’s all very different from Israel. And, I’ve never tried to change my style intentionally it just happened very organically.
One thing that I started about six years ago was a project I call “The Holy Days of the Week”. As I’m sure you know, most of Israel is Jewish and it may sound strange but when I first came to Canada even Christmas looked exotic. So, after I moved here I became really interested in all the holy days from different cultures I was exposed to here which ended up influencing a lot of my recent work. I did research for four or five years of the different holy days and other special days from every culture I could find.
I find women just so beautiful. Women of all ages, shapes and colours so beautiful and so inspiring. About once a week I take the subway down town, and during the ride I like to look around me, at the people, how they are dressed, in their movements, how they interact which each other. This is something that I feel it is a part of me, to observe and appreciate things and people around me. I always find myself admiring different women more so than men. For me being a feminist is about equality, mutual respect and appreciation for someone's life and work.
As an artist you are always taking in new things, new experiences and new perspectives from the places you live. I can totally see the change in my work since moving here. The trees that I am painting are different, the scenery, the colours without even thinking about it. Also, since moving here I have changed I was 40 and now I’m 55. I grew up. The kids grew up. I’m not a full time mother anymore. I can do my own stuff. And, I have transformed from being a full time illustrator to a full time artist. Most of the work I am doing now is my own work. I am doing it for myself. Not for clients. If I want to do it, I do it. I am not limited by a list of needs and desires of the client. I do it because it inspires me and I feel liberated by that. For me this is freedom.
Do My Hair: was very spontaneous, but it is based on the connection between women, mothers, daughters, sisters and girlfriends that is made by doing each others hair. It is very nostalgic for me. I remember braiding my daughters hair and my mom mine. It came very naturally, starting with ink and knowing that I didn’t want a lot of colour. The red string is from a memory I have of my mom, who is a textile artist, who taught us cat cradle which we used to do when we were bored. The red, also represent femininity and the transition from childhood to adulthood in a very subtle way
Sheelah’s Day: is based on a figurine “Sheela na Gig” that is found in old churches and she is sitting with her legs open, which has something to do with fertility
Upcoming events: April 9th-13th, 2019 VAM at The Freedom Factory
Social Media: @yaaraeshet