KINGSTON — Before Yael Govseyeff Kahanov moved to Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Israeli-born artist had already found commercial success.
The sculptor and print artist produced works in her own studios, Yael’s Ateliers, in Carmel, Ind.; Indianapolis, Ind., and Half Moon Bay, Calif., and she’s been commissioned by corporations, institutions and private collectors — for instance, Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceuticals, Methodist Hospital and the Lincoln Insurance Museum — all over the world.
“I’ve done a lot of work,” Kahanov said in a recent interview at Mainstreet Galleries in Kingston. “I never thought I’d do another gallery show. I came in here to frame something.”
The Harveys Lake resident, who moved into the community two years ago to be closer to her children — her daughter is a dean at Misericordia University — will exhibit her copper and glass sculptures and her woodcut prints through Oct. 31 at the Kingston venue, 370 Pierce St.
Kahanov’s first encounter with gallery owner Sally Casey quickly turned from retail inquiry to future plans when the conversation revealed the piece Kahanov needed to frame was her own.
“Sally said, ‘I want to give you a show,’” Kahanov said.
And the artist proceeded to create all new pieces for the exhibit over the course of eight months.
Her sculptural works are a stunning amalgamation of cut metal and fired glass, displaying sultry, expressionist lines and shapes and brilliant colors in wall installations that range from abstract to loosely representational.
Kahanov considers her medium an ancient one as copper has been used in various capacities by a multitude of civilizations for about 6,000 years.
“I call it my primitive work, because I learned it and studied it by myself,” Kahanov said.
Upon settling in the U.S., Kahanov needed a job and knew she wanted to work as an artist, so she started instructing children on how to make jewelry in a camp setting.
“When I started the camp, it brought something to me,” Kahanov said. “It challenged me. I bought copper, scissors.”
Today, she works in large pieces — those hanging at the Mainstreet Galleries, which can measure 3 to 4 feet in one dimension, are small compared to the 8-foot works she’s created. One commission, a wall, measured 150 feet long and 8 feet tall, she said.
“I can talk with some authority that there are not people doing this work at this scale,” Kahanov said.
Her subjects range from musicians to dancers to a free flowing female form. More representational works portray an orchid and Half Moon Bay.
“Usually, I prefer complete abstraction,” Kahanov said. “When I do abstract work, I like to play with form.”
But even her more representational works experiment with the expression of a figure rather than a strict portrayal of one.
“It’s all gestural,” she said. “Nothing is realistic.”
What is concrete is the amount of work that goes in to each sculpture. Kahanov renders her creations first in construction paper and scales them up to begin cutting, folding and shaping copper. Her husband, Moti, assists in her cutting, and a local welder, Dave Chmiola, creates the frames on which her copper and glass creations are mounted.
“I found someone who became absolutely part of (the work),” Kahanov said of Chmiola. “I love the people that help me. They deserve all the credit.”
A series of prints is displayed alongside Kahanov’s sculptures. Faces, floral patterns and even birds comprise the woodcuts.
“That’s me,” Kahanov said, pointing to one of the birds. “I am the free bird. My work is me.”
Her inspiration, she said, doesn’t come from particular sources but from everywhere at once.
“It comes all the time,” Kahanov said. “It keeps me young.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: The Recent Works of Yael Govseyeff Kahanov
Where: Mainstreet Galleries, 370 Pierce St., Kingston
When: through Oct. 31
Additional information: The exhibit showcases Kahanov’s glass on copper sculpture, etchings and woodcuts on silk.