Wet Paint in the Wild: Pioneer Works’s Dustin Yellin Gazes Into the Cosmos and Prepares for His Show at Venus Over Manhattan


The intrepid leader of Pioneer Works, Dustin Yellin, seems to lead quite an interesting life. When he isn’t programming the experimental goings-on at the nonprofit down in Red Hook, he’s creating “Psychogeographies”—his own strange, alchemic artworks that mix materials to create ambitious sculptures that act as an archive for found objects. I thought I’d see what he’s been up to lately, and then, of course, share it all with you. Take it away, Dustin!

Preparing for my exhibition of paintings at Venus Over Manhattan next spring; making mountains; looking at Max Ernst and Hokusai; and investigating new techniques for building the earth. When the ice melts and the new buds bloom, my piles of rocks must be complete.

Greg, the man with many hands who bicycles through many lands, begins the process of carefully cleaning each layer of glass before they are glued together to create a “Psychogeography.” This archive of human consciousness is a DNA stamp of found media in a 3,000-pound microscope slide.

Drawers of mushrooms to glue instead of eat. Drawers of icebergs to float on so I don’t get cold feet. Drawers of machines to put in my mind’s eye. Drawers of little animals to dance with me under the sky. Drawers of architecture to build new worlds for pleasure. Drawers of shells that I will always treasure.

The DY Studio crew convenes for a team lunch. I am grateful and lucky to have such wonderful souls assist me in making weird shit every day. Today we ate sandwiches and discussed putting together a group show for the team, all of whom are artists themselves.

Making a bridge across the sun. It will only burn for a few billion more years, so I feel the pressure on my brain to finish this one for Venus.

Gabriel and Maxine. Gabriel helped me build Pioneer Works (PW), and Maxine helped us grow up. Without these two, I would be lost. We meet every week in the Science Studios at Pioneer Works to storm brains and guide the vessel through cyclones and sunshine.

This is the human I go to to understand black holes and the topologies of space. I ask her questions like: “What’s the difference between the eternal and the infinite?” Janna is our Chair and Director of Sciences. She is a shooting star. I thank the cosmos that her ball of fire landed inside Pioneer Works.

Greg and Reid hang a painting titled  At the top is Jupiter, painted very much like the photograph that the James Webb telescope took recently. Is the earth a body? Or is the body earth? I eat rocks for breakfast, I am an amateur geologist. One of Jupiter’s moons is under the feet.

Our 10-year anniversary celebrations at Pioneer Works are in full swing. It’s bananas. Ten years sometimes feels like 10 hours. This is Darren Aronofsky, my brother from another, in his finest frock, looking to the heavens.

Ata Kak ripping it up inside PW. We danced until our bones could dance no more. I can’t believe they were under our roof, live. This was the real psychedelic dream. Am I hallucinating?

Between dances and discussions, friends come next door to the studio. Mickalene Thomas and Derrick Adams are two magical, mystical, mojo-licious souls, whose work I respect, admire, and continue to be inspired by.

Marlon and a “Psychogeography” titled . Marlon is a son of the moon and stars. In March, we celebrated the launch of his book, , at Pioneer Works. There are no words for the words that this man weaves together.

Ed is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He shoots light into the brain. Here he is with . I tell people that if they find Waldo in the sculpture, they get a piece of art…it has only happened twice. Ed didn’t find him this time.

Ran into Tiffiney and her son Waffle while running between the studio and PW. Tiffiney started Red Hook Art Project, a wondrous nonprofit just across the way, that teaches and mentors local youth. Waffle works with us at Pioneer Works. He was plucked from 1974 and, to our delight, dropped in present-day Brooklyn. He is an amazing artist himself.

I was heading to watch some brave souls get tattooed by Bruno Levy on the third floor when I ran into my friends Mickey and Mike D. Look at Mickey’s bewitching begemmed psychedelic dream eyes.

I finally left Red Hook to go to MoMA for the opening of Refik Anadol’s . Here I am with Refik and Beeple, two artists ushering in the silicon-based mutation. I love learning from what they make. After the exhibition, we had a long dinner. I got home really late, but I snuck my daughter, Zia Copernicus, a kiss goodnight while she slept.


More Trending Stories:

The Art World Is Actually Not Very Creative About What It Values. What Would It Take to Change That?

‘It’s My Damaged Rembrandt’: New Book Asserts a Downgraded Portrait of the Dutch Master Is the Real Deal

Introducing the 2022 Burns Halperin Report

Possibly the Oldest Pair of Levi’s Jeans, Salvaged From an 1857 Shipwreck, Just Auctioned for a Deep-Pocketed $114,000

Mr. Brainwash, Made Famous in the Banksy Documentary, Opens His Own Art Museum Where Guests Enter Through the Gift Shop

Click Here to See Our Latest Artnet Auctions, Live Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here