Meet the Artist: Sonia Gellman Young

Photo: Courtesy of Sonia Gellman Young

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.  

I grew up in Buffalo NY but attended Jewish schools outside of Buffalo. After Yeshiva High School I attended a Jewish seminary and then Pratt Institute in NYC. I have since then studied under other artists in addition to attending the University at Buffalo.  

I am passionate about enhancing the Jewish community here in Buffalo. Oftentimes I use my artistic eye to help with party planning and design for community events. I am a mother of seven children (KAH), and my husband is a head and neck surgeon.  

What inspired you to become an artist?  

Ever since I was a little girl my parents told me I would become an artist. My mother and both my grandmothers were artists. My family has been patron of the visual and performing arts for generations. My parents always made sure I had access to art education.  

What is your specialty?  

Currently, I predominately draw and paint with soft pastels, in addition to charcoal and conté. I also have experience in printmaking and painting.  

How and where do you work?  

I work from home in my studio. Before COVID I was giving art classes to small groups as well as individual students.  

What is the most indispensable item in your studio space?  

My homemade maul stick. (a stick with a padded tip used to support an artist’s working hand.) 

Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?  

My inspiration has come through the different stages in my life. For example, when I was bearing children a lot of my themes were around pregnancy, new-born babies, and child rearing. Recently I spent a summer in the Catskills where my artwork was themed around nature. I find Judaism is a constant inspiration in my artwork. Sometimes it is just a nuance and sometimes is very pronounced.  

Do you do bespoke work? 

Yes, I do. I have done commission work predominantly portraits of both people – family members, or in some cases famous people, Rabbis –  and animals.  

What projects are you currently working on?  

I am currently working on a body of mixed media work. Drawing with charcoal and pastel on top of a loosely painted background which depicts Jewish life.  

What is your favourite item in your current collection?  

Photo: Courtesy of Sonia Gellman Young

This piece is mixed media, I initially painted acrylic paint heavily diluted with water on multi-use art paper. Once that dried, I created the image using charcoal, pastel, and conté.  

How do you know when a piece is finished?  

That’s a tough one because you can overwork a piece. Sometimes I just feel ready to be done. Sometimes my older kids will pull me away and say “mom, you’re done”. I try to have a rule for myself, that once I declare a piece finished, I don’t obsess over details I may have overlooked. I accept that I am done and move on.  

What was the first artwork you ever sold?  

When I was in 5th grade a teacher at my school offered me $100 for a piece that I made in school, which was a fun colorful drawing of the circus.  

Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?  

Photo: Courtesy of Sonia Gellman Young

This was one of the first collages that I made. It incorporates Jewish text layered on transparent paper as well as drawn and painted imagery and imagery created by cutting with scissors. It was very enjoyable because I came up with all the methods on my own and let my creative process take over.  

What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?  

Bringing joy to others is definitely a goal, bringing Jewish education is important, such as Holocaust related artwork or artwork that brings awareness of Jewish history. Sometimes my artwork can have social justice overtones where I may hope to influence the viewer.  

My objective for the future is to continue to exhibit in shows and galleries and I hope to participate in a global project with my art.  

Where can we find your work?

Instagram: soniayoungart 

My work has been exhibited in private and public collections around the world. 

Photos: Courtesy of Sonia Gellman Young

Bloomingdale's Art.com

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