Access: Yashua Klos in Residence
Artist: Yashua Klos
Video: Peter Elliott Eaton
“Of course the card provides us access to entering the room, but what does access mean in a larger sense in our democracy?” — Yashua Klos
For New York-based artist Yashua Klos, the medium is often the message. Known for his large-scale collages — created using materials he makes through woodblock printing — Yashua has called collage a metaphor for the “fragmentation of African American identity” (Artspace).
Combining depictions of faces or hands with pieces of concrete, cinder block, and wood, or deconstructed cars laced with flowers, Yashua’s work explores the idea that identity forms from environmental and spiritual conditions — and through the process of adapting and thriving.
Born and raised in Chicago, his experience with community, labor, and urban segregation inform his multi-dimensional portrayals of Blackness, which include messages of familial love and political resilience. For instance, he employs flowers “to explore themes of nurturing, tenderness, generosity, and self-care,” he told Colossal.
Woodblock printing, too, holds layers of meaning. “There is no simpler printmaking technique than carving a piece of tree, inking what remains, and pressing a print out of the relief,” he told BOMB Magazine. Originating from ancient Egypt, the technique was used by Yashua’s heroes, 20th-century Black American printmakers Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett, to make literal use of environmental elements (trees) to create portraits. And still, in Yashua’s hands, woodblock printing feels fresh, even futuristic.
While in residence at the LINE LA, Yashua created artwork for limited-edition key cards. Here again, the medium speaks to the larger message: Access.
“True access could mean clean water,” he told us. “True access could mean affordable housing. Access means healthcare for all. Equitable pay. Access means voting rights.” His key card artwork highlights food, water, and shelter as necessary resources to access in a true democracy.
This September, in honor of Yashua’s theme and Hunger Action Month, we’re donating to Common Threads, a national organization that works with schools here in LA’s Koreatown to increase nutrition knowledge and help kids consume a variety of vegetables.
Yashua’s key cards will be available to guests starting on Friday, September 29th, and will remain in circulation for four to six weeks, depending on their availability.
Access is a micro-documentary about the artist and his process for creating this limited-edition key card.