Layers of the Soul: The Art of Loren Yagoda
Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography by Bryan Black
Loren Yagoda inhales, noticing the sensation as air fills her lungs. Her face, framed by beautiful white-silver hair, is filled with peace. The intensity of her eyes is concealed behind closed lids, and her focus shifts to the gentle rise in her chest and the expansion in her belly. Pausing for a moment, she feels a soft tension before allowing the air to escape from her nose.
For a few seconds, she savors the sensation of feeling rather than thinking, and of being empty yet complete, before taking in another cleansing breath.
Gone is the clutter of the mind. In this moment, there is only breath and the lucid clarity of a connection to nature, creation, and the universe.
For those who have discovered Yagoda’s striking works, it’s no surprise that each of her paintings begins with meditation and intuition. Her monochromatic palettes, assertive lines and stirring layers elicit an intrinsically emotional response.
Her creations seem to bypass the mind and its desire to create sense and order, and connect instead to the spaces that can only be reached by focusing within.
Sitting comfortably in her Phoenix home, Yagoda is the picture of a woman content within her own skin. She looks smart in her trademark black, and her words and expressions are kind yet absent of hyperbole.
Like most true artists whose thoughts and emotions are told through their mediums, she falls short in her search for words to describe her creative process.
“For many years, I was a dancer,” she says after a pause. “I still say that I dance my lines onto the canvas. Sometimes those lines are big, bold strokes, and other times they’re subdued and quiet. I have different moods. You know they’re all me even though they’re different.
“I’ve always used the term ‘textural existence’ to describe what I do,” she added. “I love the concept of texture, and of creating things within things. ‘Character’ is probably more the word for it.”
In both life and art, Yagoda embraces the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, cherishing perceived imperfections. Inexact lines, misaligned layers, and free form creations are all part of the character, and the draw, of her art.
Like glimpses into separate elements of her inner psyche, Yagoda has spent years developing four series of original paintings: Meditation Thought, Enigma, Architectonic, and Stripes.
In each, she uses bold black strokes combined with earthy taupe, tobacco and gray undertones, some subtle and some more prolific. Each series has its own persona and allure.
Yagoda’s Meditation Thought series is a collection of layered textures. Distractions disappear and the mind is encouraged to look into its voids. With these paintings—as with all of her work—she’s not interested in inspiring thought; rather, she wishes to invoke the absence of thinking and the entrance into something much deeper.
This series was borne out of Yagoda’s own duality. While her quiet, calm energy is most obvious, paintings within her Enigma collection exude a decidedly masculine energy. Bold abstract lines and colors define this series, and each has an element of whimsy and liveliness unique to her creative perspective.
Architecture and nature are the inspiration for this series. Rather than capturing the structure of a house, Yagoda has instead recreated the soul of a structure in this vivid collection.
To create the paintings in this series, Yagoda uses steady repetition and intuition as a guide to create lines ranging from crisp and precise to spontaneous and improvised.
The Making of an Artist
Some artists are born while others are created. Yagoda’s path has been a combination of both.
As the story goes, her mother had an unusual craving for the smell of turpentine while she was pregnant—so much that she dabbed it on her wrists as perfume.
From the time Loren was born, she was surrounded by collectors, designers and architects. In addition, her mother collected art, and she shared her passion with her daughter.
Yagoda was encouraged to express herself through color and form, pacifying herself with art supplies. As a child, she spent many hours with crayons, paper, scissors and paints, silently creating new worlds from the corners of her imagination.
Her parents designed homes during her early childhood, leaving her enamored with building, creating, and the use of artistic materials. Through their work, architecture became an early love.
As she got older, she began to explore expression through dance, eventually studying under renowned instructor Barbara Mettler. As she moved her body within Mettler’s beautifully designed space, she began to appreciate the complexities, function, and form of architecture, which led to a life-long affinity for design.
She began to understand the relationship between design and expression, and explored that kinship in many ways. She taught dance to special education students, created jewelry and ceramics, painted, raised three children, and earned her BFA from Memphis College of Art.
Throughout her life, Yagoda has evolved and transformed, exploring passions, discovering new pieces of herself, and leaving behind that which did not serve her.
For many years, she fell naturally into interior design. She enjoyed the challenge of understanding the energy of a space and of its inhabitants, then visually expressing that energy.
All the while, it was creative expression that pressed her forward. What she hadn’t realized at the time was that, with each challenge and every victory, she was building a palette of experiences from which she could draw inspiration.
“It’s like reading a long book,” she explained. “The character development becomes more interesting as you turn the pages, and that’s what has happened to me in my life and in my art.”
She still finds herself combining art with interior design, often creating commissioned works for clients and their homes, offices, or other spaces.
Yagoda’s work is meant to be experienced, and several of her original works are currently on display at Grace Renee Gallery in Carefree. She and gallery owner Shelly Spence have put together a collection of stunning works that reflect a subdued sophistication.
She has also been chosen for an exciting new project. Actress Portia de Rossi, who owns a company called General Public, has developed a 3-D printing technology called the synograph that will allow her to realistically recreate the depth and texture of Yagoda’s work. She’s put together the Yagoda Series of prints, which is being sold through decor giant Restoration Hardware beginning December 2020.
“My goal is to create rooms that feel good,” she said. “I want to create art that touches the senses, and that helps to relax the mind. With each painting, my goal is to create a place to rest from our constant daily tasks and distractions.”
The Art of Loren Yagoda
Grace Renee Gallery | 7212 E. Ho Hum Road #7 | Carefree | 480-575-8080 | gracereneegallery.com