Drawing inspiration from the systems and networks that connect us to one another, the world around us, and realms we can’t even see, Dustin Yellin (previously) encases detailed narratives between numerous layers of glass. At the Liberty Science Center in New York City, Yellin’s 10,000-pound The Politics of Liberty explores historical time—past, present, and future—as part of the center’s 30th anniversary Big Art program.
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As the founder and director of Pioneer Works, a multidisciplinary center with a mission to build community through the arts and sciences, Yellin is no stranger to exploring ways that art can educate and communicate about important topics. Using paint and clippings from print media, the Brooklyn-based artist creates elaborate, allegorical scenes that tap into viewers’ emotions and consciousness and encourage new ways of thinking about society and its infrastructures. Yellin embraces interdisciplinary approaches and says the Big Art initiative demonstrates the “fundamental belief in the ability of ideas to exist fluidly across different domains, inviting us to consider the different ways in which an understanding of our universe can be expressed and to feel the expanses of our minds.”
In The Politics of Liberty, seven columns are presented in a chevron layout depicting two landmasses on either side of a watery basin. He spent around 20,000 hours—that’s about 834 days!—painstakingly composing tiny details between sheets of laminated glass. One section portrays a fictive community gathered around an ancient totem, followed by a society of the future in which its denizens don jet packs within a “techno-metropolis” that rises up around a rocket ship. From each of these areas, waterfalls feed into a central world full of tall ships, supertankers, rafts, and drones.
Rather than a linear expression of time, a mashup of technologies, climates, and terrain merge seamlessly into one another. By portraying the past, present, and future simultaneously, Yellin prompts viewers to consider the interconnectivity of all time periods and how our actions in the past and today will continue to influence the future.
The Politics of Eternity is on view at the Liberty Science Center for the next year. Explore more work on the artist’s website and Instagram.
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