Amid the downright messy process of sculpting blocks of stone and wood, there’s an undeniably poetic aspect to the work of Hudson Valley artist Nadia Yaron. “Clouds” hewn from alabaster perch atop chunks of salvaged wood in totemic forms that stand slightly askew—a metaphor for nature’s impermanence. Of her slender wood-and-stone columns that culminate with hand-hammered metal discs, she says, “I wanted to make something that you could hold up to the sky and connect to the universe.”
Yaron has been on her own journey of connection ever since she was a child in Brazil, where she first became aware of the power of materials: the coolness of a stone floor in summer, the heft of a wood table, the smell and feel of a vintage leather sofa. “We moved to Long Island when I was 6 and everything was Formica.” She laughs. “It was the ’80s.”
She didn’t come to the realization that she wanted to work with her hands until after she’d graduated from Hunter College, where she majored in women’s studies. “I spent a month in a tree house at an anarchist collective in Texas and it changed my life.” She began refurbishing salvaged chairs and cofounded a furniture firm for which she made textiles and weavings.
When her twin daughters were born in 2016, Yaron longed for something to compensate for the long stretches of sitting and rocking. “Instead of taking up exercise like a normal person, I decided to carve wood,” she says. Her husband suggested she get some logs and a chainsaw, so she dragged pieces from a felled maple tree into her Brooklyn basement and got to work. “It felt urgent, and it felt good,” Yaron recalls. She also worked with alabaster and marble, combining them with chunks of reclaimed wood and experimenting with shapes and textures.
Since 2019, home for Yaron has been Hudson, where the artist has a studio in a repurposed 19th-century barn. But she can just as often be found working outside, dressed in dusty clothes and donning headphones and a respirator as she deploys saws, hammer drills and a plethora of hand tools to shape and finish her creations.
Whether working in wood or stone, she lets her materials dictate what form they’ll take. “It’s just instinctual,” Yaron says. Those forms continue to evolve and expand. In June, a collection of all-stone outdoor works moved to Collective by Jeff Lincoln in Southampton, while new sculptures migrated to Manhattan’s Ceysson & Bénétière gallery. “After we relocated upstate, my pieces got bigger and taller because I have more physical and psychic space,” the artist observes. “I’m getting closer to the clouds.”