Husband and wife Paul Yanko and Enid Williams make art work as a vocation and as a teaching career.
They once took a graduate school adviser up on an offer to hire them to paint the interior of his house.
Yanko said a certain degree of sacrifice enables them to be working artists.
Setting and meeting deadlines helps the couple organize time and efforts. They freely share that advice with their students.
The couple rented studio space in Ohio for eight years, straight out of graduate school.
“We hosted exhibitions and got an opportunity to exhibit in the building we were renting,” Yanko said. “We were not waiting for any opportunity to come to us. ... We donated work, we volunteered our time and did everything we could to be a part of and support our community.”
“It was a lot of fun,” Yanko said, of the house painting experience years ago. However, Yanko admits their determination to make art work as a career doesn’t allow room “to cultivate too many extra hobbies.”
“We enjoy exchanging ideas on projects and talking shop on what works for each of us, and what we teach,” Yanko said. We share a studio at our home in Greenville. ... Both of us hail from families with backgrounds in education.”
Examples of their recently completed contemporary works are on view through Nov. 11 at the Lander University Fine Art Gallery. It’s located in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The exhibit is titled “Perfectly Familiar/Unrecognizably Strange.”
In it are several large-scale paintings and framed works on paper, one of which is on the October cover of Carolina Arts magazine.
“I continue to find new ways of combining elements that surprise me,” Yanko said. “The basic shapes are among the first things we learn, along with colors. ... I derive some influence from things like construction sets and commercial signage. ... It’s a nod to a classroom setting my mother taught in that was really populated by bright and interesting objects.”
Williams said her work in this show contains “a very familiar circular element” but color and layering can give works more than one interpretation.
“All artists I know are trying to maintain their practices,” Williams explains. “But, I feel like the title of our show touches on what it’s like to be an artist right now. We are faced with so many unfamiliar circumstances, but we are continuing to work.”
Summers, Williams said, afford the teacher couple time to “dig into new work” but they make a conscious effort to be in the studio year-round.
Engaging with a painting, Williams said, is a physical experience.
Many of Yanko’s Governor’s School students have gone on to attend Lander and study art. He and Enid have traveled with the Lander University art department twice on trips abroad.
“Both of us got our start teaching at the college level in Ohio, out of graduate school,” Yanko said. “Now, my teaching cohort at the Governor’s School is 16 to 18 year-olds. I’m teaching painting, drawing and two-dimensional design. Enid teaches painting, drawing and two-dimensional design and does print-making in a rotation, when enrollment permits. She’s serving students who range in age from 18 to 75.”
Williams encourages emerging artists to show their works at coffee shops and other locations.
“It’s a way to get your work out there and organize it,” Williams said. “Very often, you get some kind of response to your work. That kind of validation, I encourage you to seek out, in as many venues as you can find.”