A mission trip to Japan in 1991 had a great influence on Anderson Artists Guild member Barbara Yon. For someone who hadn’t traveled much, living and teaching English in a very foreign culture for six months was a shock. But she also found herself drawn to the art. “I liked the design of their stamps, and I loved their paper,” she said. “I collected a lot of used stamps from the office and a lot of papers, some of these out of the trash can and some I bought.”
Back home, in between additional mission trips to Taiwan and Bali, she began to make collages, winning recognition and prizes in shows in Anderson and Hartwell and with a traveling exhibition with the South Carolina Watermedia Society. She was also selected to decorate a six-foot fish for the “Fish out of Water: Hooked on the Arts” project in Anderson in 2008. Lately, she has branched out into abstract acrylics and experimental watermedia.
Her inspirations come from inside her own head. “First I think of a composition,” she said. “Then I use opposition and color and other principles of art. That’s it. It’s just patterns that I put together. This is all out of me. I ask what I can make look balanced and unbalanced, strange and different, something you’ve never seen before.”
A native of Anderson, Yon attended Anderson College and Lander University, receiving a degree in home economics. But she only taught that subject for a few years, eventually attaining a master’s degree in education from Clemson University and moving to kindergarten. She and her husband relocated to Ridge Springs, S.C., in Saluda County 22 years ago to help their son start the largest registered angus cattle business in the state. They also have a daughter who lives in England, plus six grandchildren, one great-grandchild and another on the way.
Yon traces her interest in art back to early childhood, when she loved what she could do with crayons. Later, she enjoyed gardening and flower arranging and cake decorating. It wasn’t until that 1991 mission trip that she got serious about art, and since then she has studied with a mentor professor at USC Aiken, Al Beyer, and has taken classes with Carrie Brown, Mary Todd Beam, Carol Barnes, Katherine Liu and Stephen Quiller.
Yon’s first solo show opens at the Aiken Center for the Arts with a reception on June 21 and runs through July 27. More information at http://aikencenterforthearts.org/current-exhibits/.