Atomic Fusion: The Zen Artistry of Michael Yurkovic
The influence of the Atomic Age (1940-1960) has been a dominating theme in our culture through architecture, interior, industrial design and the fine arts. Atomic Age design elements utilize themes from atomic science and are easily identifiable through the use of atomic motifs, futuristic signs and symbolisms. These design elements reflect the intellectual optimism and belief in the power of technology and its impact on life in the future that was experienced by much of the world’s society during the 1950-1960s. These design elements and patterns spilled over into a broad range of consumer products including furniture, fashion, animation, film and television. Many similarities exist between Atomic Age design and the Mid-Century Modern (MCM) trend of the same period and almost every American household during this period contained one or more elements of these significant style movements. The MCM movement in the United States reflected the International and Bauhaus movements and the impact was highly visible in American residential architecture and interior design by bridging modernism into both the post-war American suburban migration and urban living. MCM function and form was highly accepted by the needs of the average American living in small spaces.
Love of these movements, including the appreciation for the form and function of Atomic Age and MCM designs, their creators is the inspiration and driving force behind the artistry of the designer and fine scale miniature artisan Michael Yurkovic. Michael’s interest in art and design began during early childhood and continued into adulthood as an avid collector of vintage tin toys, miniature models of automobiles and iconic vintage Atomic Age-style television sets from the 1950s-1960s. Through the support of his family (many who worked for generations as coal miners) including his father, a steelworker, Michael was encouraged to step out of his family’s comfort zone to pursue an arts education. Trained in industrial design in the Chicago area, Yurkovic’s impressive design career has spanned 3 decades and includes stints as a successful designer of consumer electronics, home healthcare appliances and toys and games; some of his game creations are still in production and are available in prestigious venues including New York City’s MOMA’s gift shop.
Michael’s lifelong love of art and design together with his impressive technical and visionary skills provided a natural segue from industrial design into the world of creating 1/12th scale miniatures. After visiting the Chicago International Dollhouse Miniatures Show and Sale in 2013 he was inspired to begin his fine scale miniature journey and within three short months he attended his first miniature show as an exhibitor; thus his business “Atomic Miniatures” was born. Yurkovic’s first pieces to be presented to the miniature community included his wooden figural accessories of men and women in motion, styled with a classic, modern look; these figures (still being created in 2016) impart a “Mad Men” feeling, with the sleek characteristic 1960s style. At this first show, Yurkovic began many long-standing friendships vital to his miniature career including Bill Robertson and Kari Bloom. Mr. Robertson encouraged Michael’s pursuits towards a scholarship to The Guild School, IGMA’s premier, annual weeklong educational offering (www.igma.org) and he remains a great source of encouragement. Ms. Bloom recognized Michael’s unique and inherent vision and skill and has been a constant source of encouragement in his expansion into the creation of miniature MCM furniture, establishing his brand and has engaged in several collaborations. Based on his scholarship experience at The Guild School, along with an impressive portfolio of stylish renditions of MCM furnishings, Yurkovic was elected to the coveted IGMA Artisan status in furniture in 2014.
Drawing on the inspiration from classic MCM designers including Charles Eames, Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and the American modernist George Nelson, Michael’s current portfolio includes furniture, accessories and vignettes that typify the styles of MCM and Atomic Age, unique to the world of fine scale miniatures. He creates these pieces using fine materials and his own unique processes including quality hardwood and molded plywood, vinyl and also the processes of the period including crafting in metals and wires and thermoforming plastics, consistent with the materials and techniques used in the production of the original products. He states “…the beginnings of any piece for me are very pure. I strive to use original, virgin materials; brass wire, a sheet of plastic, a beautiful piece of wood.” Attention to detail and personal self-study of the works of the master designers of the MCM period have become hallmarks of his work. Yurkovics’s portfolio also includes miniature automobiles crafted in the European 1/43rd scale he creates on specification for racecar owners, collectors and drivers and parallel his personal love and appreciation for the classic lines of the Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini among others. Michael’s evolving and signature style now includes the creation of vignettes and settings incorporating various items from his furniture and accessories catalogue; each vignette is designed to invite the viewer to engage in the setting, create their own personal narrative, and inspire a unique and individual interpretation of that time and place represented. Many of these vignettes are created from ideas sparked not only from the classic interpretation of MCM style but from contemporary everyday life including street art, graffiti, interpretive theatre and the political commentaries of the current day.
Like many miniature artisans, Michael’s work is performed in a dedicated workshop space in his home in Des Plaines, Illinois. His home and workshop contain many life-size MCM furnishings he collects that reflect his personal lifestyle and also serve as his daily inspiration. His workshop has become a personal meditative space that reflects his own credo “…I am not a slave to my work. I am at a point in life where I am highly motivated to create so many great projects while maintaining a great and balanced quality of life.” He intuitively knows when a piece is complete based on his personal satisfaction and he rarely revisits or tweaks a piece. This Zen-like approach to his work embodies a focus on simplicity and intuition rather than fixating on a goal or conventional thinking.
His reliance on intuition and mastery of skill has served him well; we look forward to his future, evolving work, his expanding vision, and the stories his work will compel us to live and re-tell. We are excited to learn of his special exhibition “Atomic Fusion: The Zen Artistry of Michael Yurkovich” in The Gallery at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures from March 5, 2016 through May 1, 2016 in the village of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Michael will also teach a Master Class on Saturday, March 5 and will speak at an open house on March 6 as part of the D. Thomas Fine Miniaturists’ Series. Click here for more information on the exhibit, class and open house please or call 914-231-9871. More more on the artistry of Michael Yurkovic please visit Atomic Miniature.
ABOUT D. THOMAS FINE MINIATURES
D. Thomas Fine Miniatures is an online and in-store retail destination featuring artisan dollhouses and top quality collectibles including 1/12th scale furniture and accessories. The shop also offers workshops and classes taught by master artisans.
The concept, designed to appeal to collectors, crafters and enthusiasts at all skill levels and abilities, was created, in part, to raise awareness of miniatures as a decorative art form and to introduce the discipline not only to a new generation but to those who may just be discovering it!
The shop also features a gallery space showcasing works in miniature by well-known artists from all over the world.
D. Thomas Fine Miniatures is located at 579 Warburton Avenue in the village of Hastings-on-Hudson NY. Gallery and shop hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from Noon to 5:00 pm. Evening hours are available by appointment.