Cardboard Reliefs: Jason Yen

Jay Yen at Work

Many of us are quite used to collapsing and discarding the delivery cardboard boxes that come to our doorstep. Amazon Prime, Birchbox, Wine of the Month Club, Mom's quarterly care package? Whatever your flavor, most of us see cardboard as a delivery vehicle. However, local DC-based artist, Jason Yen, sees more than corrugated fiberboard. By day, he is lead designer of DC community magazines/newspapers, HillRag, MidCity DC, and East of the River. After hours, Jay is also a food enthusiast and mixed media artist. This month, Jay has a gallery of cardboard reliefs up at the Hillyer Art Gallery in Dupont.

The exhibition remains open until February 28 so if you are local and can make it, it's worth seeing. 

At times taking a critical view of social, political, cultural and personal issues; Jay's work also takes on the versatility and lightheartedness of having no significant meaning attached but rather, a comical and fictitious play of puns and pop culture. Articulating his desire when others see his work, "his aim is usually to see people smile in a clever way." Seeing his work online presents a two-dimensional picture of a story or statement. However, up close and in person, his work reveals dimension and depth as his process of cutting, pasting, layering and coloring gives a unique intricacy and complexity. 

Jay Yen Cardboard Relief
Jay Yen Cardboard Relief

Talking with Jay, he shares more about his process but also purposely restrains allowing others to perceive and interact with his pieces personally and uniquely. Whether one sees symbolism or one gains a laugh, that is the intent. 

What about cardboard and mixed media inspires you as an artist?

Finances inspire my use of cardboard/mixed media. I also have the freedom to use any thing I want in the creative process. Traditional art supplies can be costly so starting out in cardboard, I've been able to build upon this base using magazines and print publications. It's also become my way of being environmentally responsible in my art. 

How did you get started and what was your first piece?

I've been pretty creative my whole life. In high school I started to paint... I did that for many years, but got tired of it. My first piece in cardboard relief was a girl sitting on some steps. I sold it a couple of years ago. The next closest is the girl in the library. If you look at that piece and the latest piece you'll notice a difference in skill and quality.

Who influences your work and who do you look up to?

Nobody really consciously influences my work, but I like all kinds of fine art and street art, so I'm sure there are bits and pieces that my mind collects.

What's your Dream BIG? Where would you like to see your work displayed?  

I would like to influence other artists, continue to find joy in creating, and selling my work to use the proceeds in a Godly manner. I mean, I'd love to be a famous artist; a pillar in this event art period of anything goes :). But that's a slim chance. So really, finding joy and using the money in a missional way. But who knows... I always tell Katie, I'm doing better in my art career than VanGogh did in his...

Lincoln Monument
Man with Bouquet
Dim Sum
Posted on February 24, 2015 and filed under Fancy That.