Picture this: A conversation with YA Fine Art Studios.
(Beauty by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, " Walking along the alleyways in the mystical city of Tzfat, my wife and I were on the lookout for the subtle yet beautiful. We came upon this wall draped in purple and were drawn to the elegant balance between the stone wall and the blossoming flowers---the ancient construction clothed in fresh, natural growth. In fact, the color purple in and of itself represents a delicate balance. Jewish mystical tradition teaches that each color embodies a certain attribute of the divine. Purple, as the equilibrium of red and blue, corresponds to the attribute of Tiferet---balance and beauty." Location: Tzfat, Israel)
The adage a picture is worth a thousand words might not give photographer Yehoshua Aryeh any justice. Yehoshua's mission is to showcase the multidimensional beauty of the land of Israel. His vision enables all to see a different side of Israel. Currently, Yehoshua and his wife Jordyn are working on a Kickstarter campaign to create a fine art photography book called Land of Life. Kickstarter recognized the project merits with the coveted Projects We Love Badge.
(Artist Yehoshua Aryeh and wife Jordyn)
Here is the video to showcase the project
I had the chance to speak with Y.A. Fine Art cofounder/Yehoshua's wife Jordyn to discuss the Kickstarter campaign and the inspiration behind the artwork.
1. What is the catalyst for this Kickstarter Project?
Since creating Y.A. Fine Art, we knew that we eventually wanted to make a coffee table book showcasing Yehoshua’s work. We were waiting until we had enough pictures to put in the book, create the writings that accompany each photo, and the logistics of creating a book (who we want to print with, what the book will look like, etc.) Yet, the core reason for this project is to bring Israel's beauty into people's homes in a way that can be in a person's price range and not take as much room as a traditional piece of art.
(Moment by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, " Photography has the ability to make a moment in time eternal. When I stand by the sea, the sound of the waves in their constant return calms me and opens me to be present in the moment. This is my preferred state of mind both for capturing photographs and for connecting to Hashem in prayer. Through awareness of the briefest, instantaneous present, like the sound of a crashing wave, I feel that I can access timeless eternity." Location Dor HaBonim Beach, Israel)
2. What was the inception and inspiration behind Y.A. Fine Art?
The inspiration behind Y.A. Fine Art is to showcase my husband Yehoshua Aryeh's photography and provide a meaningful contribution to the world by showing the beauty of the land of Israel. We want to show the world that Israel is beyond just the culture and politics by focusing in on the physical and spiritual beauty of land itself.
(Blossom by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, "The prophet Isaiah envisioned a time when the land of Israel “will blossom abundantly” (Isaiah 35:2). As I drove through this valley in the north of Israel, I felt the truth of that promise in the present surrounding me. The only way to emphasize the abundant rows of trees at the perfect angle was to climb to the top of my car, hauling my tripod and camera up with me. While exposing the frame, I remained completely still so as not to rock the car and ruin the shot. In this stillness by the fields, I felt I was capturing an eternal and miraculous moment in time." Location: Yesod Ha'Ma'ala, Israel)
3. Why did you create a physical art gallery rather than an ecommerce business?
Y.A. Fine Art differentiates itself from other art galleries by the material the work is produced on and intentional placement of the artwork. Unless you see the work in a physical space, the experience will not be as easily translated to a website. Most of our buyers have seen the work in person prior to purchase.
(Imagine by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, "Artistic decisions are as much about what is absent as what is present, what surrounds the frame as much as what is in the frame. Standing in this forest in Hadera, I was struck by the contrast of light and dark shading, and particularly by the brightness of the imposing Eucalyptus at the center of this photograph. I chose to eliminate color in order to emphasize the lighting-related features of the scene. And by cutting the trees off starkly with the top of the frame, I invite the viewer’s imagination to collaborate on the artistic process of reconstructing the experience. I believe that by activating and exercising our imaginations we bring our whole selves more fully into artistic, spiritual, or everyday experiences." Location: Hadera Forest, Israel)
4. How does Yehoshua get his photographs?
It varies. Mostly, we plan on a trip for two or three nights. Once we arrive, we choose a place to stay and explore the area for a few days. The majority of the pictures come from the exploration process.
Yehoshua tries to wake up at sunrise to get to a specific spot. Yehoshua's favorite times to shoot are at Golden Hour. Between the two golden hours, we are exploring to find the best places to shoot while taking some photos in between. When we are not familiar with the area, we try to familiarize ourselves to come back a second time and hope that G-d is guiding us to the right places to take pictures.
** Many photographers prefer to shot at sunrise or sunset, called the Golden Hour (Singh). The golden hour is the first hour of light just after dawn and the last hour of light before sunset (Singh). This window of golden hour time in the morning and evening, when the sun is at a low angle, provides photographers with a magical quality of light that makes their photos pop (Singh)
(Abundant Blessings by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says," "All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full; to the place from which they flow the streams flow back again." (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
This photograph depicts the stream of Ein Eyov flowing into the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). There are many streams that lead into the Kinneret, yet this vast lake does not overflow, because it is constantly giving of its water outwards as well. I believe that we follow a similar cycle: we receive blessings from our Higher Power, and we can then give over these blessings to others. As we give, we open ourselves to receive even more and act as a conduit of love in the world. We become like the sea, which divine blessing can flow through, ultimately saturating our life with true abundance" Location: Sea of Galilee)
5. How has your personal journey to Israel influenced the work?
We came to love Israel on our own. We see the land as our true home. Our journey to Israel allows us to see more than the land's physical beauty; we can see the spirituality behind the land. The experience of acknowledging and then photographing this dual beauty is something that has greatly influenced the work.
(Light to the Nations by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, " As I adjusted settings and focused my camera in time to frame this stunning sunrise over the Old City of Jerusalem, I couldn’t help but envision the fruition of the prophecy of Isaiah: "In the days to come, The mount of Hashem shall stand firm above the mountains and tower above the hills; and all the nations shall gaze on it with joy. For Torah shall come forth from Zion, And the word of Hashem from Jerusalem And the nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation; there shall never again be war." - Isaiah 2:2". Location: Jerusalem, Israel)
6. Has your photography changed the way people see the land of Israel?
A fair amount of people come into our gallery and are shocked that every picture is from Israel. I think the most rewarding for us is when Israelis come in, and they see the photos, and they say, "Wow, I didn't realize my country was so beautiful." There is overall a lack of photographic artistic representation of the land of Israel. The work opens people's eyes to that and inspires them to renew their love for the country that they live in.
We had a member of the European Parliament come into our gallery when we first opened. We have since begun working with him for the last couple of years (now since COVID the project pushed to a later date) to do an exhibition in the European Parliament Brussels, Belgium, to showcase our work. He thinks the work is fantastic, and we are honored to see how he saw the potential in our artwork to open people's eyes to what Israel is beyond the conflict.
(Chaos and Order by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, "While walking through a dried up gorge in the Judean desert known as Nahal Pratzim, I was struck by the dynamic patterns on the wall. I framed two contrasting forms that appeared one beside the other - the left chaotic and unpredictable, the right ordered and smooth. According to Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition, the world was created through the introduction of unstable chaos (Tohu) and then the rectification of order (Tikkun). These two forces also exist within us and can be expressed in different ways. Tohu can be expressed as our natural creative drive; Tikkun as the process of directing that raw energy. When the two work together, as I captured in this image, it is a synthesis that has the potential to create true beauty." Location: Judean Desert, Israel)
7. What are YA's future goals?
We would definitely like to open more galleries in the future with at least one or two more in Israel, and then maybe one in New York and Florida. We currently have a showroom in South Florida. The showroom is only open for appointments, but we would love to have a proper gallery like our Jerusalem location in Miami
(Forest Horses by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, " Driving through the Limonim Forest in the north of Israel, my wife and I came across these horses strolling through the trees. I assumed that we should stay in the car to keep safe from the intimidating creatures. But my wife, who grew up riding horses, jumped out and coaxed them to come closer. Within just a couple minutes, the magnificent beasts were nibbling snacks out of her hand. I took advantage of the moment as their attention was turned towards us to capture a photo of their almost surreal, natural beauty within the wooded meadow. Afterward, my wife explained to me that the most important part of riding horses is the ability to feel one with the horse, like a single unit. This really struck me, that two drastically different species are able to interact and become as one. I wonder if experiences with horses can be a gateway to recognizing and feeling the oneness of all of existence." Location: Limonim Forest, Israel)
I believe that a good piece of art lets the viewer admire the skill of the artists. A great piece of art allows the viewer to change their perspective on a topic. Yehoshua ARyehproduces great art by enabling viewers to shift their mindset about the land of Israel. If you want to contribute to this Kickstarter, please go tohttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yafineart/land-of-life-bookand help YA foster a love of Israel for everyone.
(Tranquility by Yehoshua Aryeh. Aryeh says, " There are moments that remind us that the beauty of life can be experienced in the simplest ways. My wife and I had ventured out before sunrise, hoping to find the perfect location to capture the beauty of the rising sun at the still waters of the Dead Sea. As the sun crept up over the Jordanian mountains on the eastern banks of the sea, I felt my body tensing, anxious about missing the opportunity to capture the moment. Then I turned my attention from the intense light streaming momentarily over the mountains to the calm shore beneath my feet. The stones encased in salt crystals along with the soothing blue draping the shore brought a mysterious tranquility to my being. Sometimes photography really is about the excitement of catching light at just the right millisecond. And other times, it is about the serenity of being present to the Eternal." Location: Dead Sea)