An essay titled “On the Habits and Messages of Yellow” by Kevin Kennedy Professor of Art Katharine Kuharic appears in the 06/Global Color issue of Hand/Eye magazine. The publication, whose focus is “about connecting cultures and inspiring action,” dedicated this issue to the topic of color. In her essay, Kuharic shares her thoughts on yellow’s relevance to us. The article also includes a full page image of one of her paintings titled “Jack’s Original.”
Kuharic wrote, “If you remember that I see this painting psychically as an Italian Renaissance Expulsion painting, you can see that yellow is a substitute for Fra Angelico’s divine fields of gold. Like gold, yellow is a deific color, though gold and yellow represent different deities. Gold offers us its precious rarity and hints of heaven, while yellow alarms us. Yellow is unsavory in its sources – a fact well known even to the ancients, and a source of yellow’s association with danger. Cadmium and chrome are toxic heavy metals. Naples yellow comes from lead, and Indian Yellow from collected urine. It seems no coincidence that we know yellow as the color of caution, pestilence and plague. Yellow’s associations and yellow’s physical self inflame our imagination.
“…A 15th-century Florentine’s beliefs are revealed in the material metaphor of the paintings of the time. The use of gold leaf brings an otherworldly flicker and a spiritual glow to the surface: God is not far away. The truth of our time comes out in the gassy noxious buzz of an artificial light in my painting: the color yellow lays bare the empty, futile sustenance offered up in our 21st-century world.”