Yevgeniya Gazman combines art with philanthropy.
Yevgeniya Gazman, founder and creator of YGazmArt, fills each aspect of her life with intentionality. You can find her at her favorite hometown Farmington haunts: practicing a vinyasa flow at Bodhi Yoga, sipping on a latte at Apothecary Espresso and Coffee, or collaborating with other creatives at Skep Space, a new artist incubator, where she was commissioned to paint the entrance door with one of her signature hamsa designs.
Gazman, 41, was born in the former Soviet Union and came to the United States with her family as a refugee at age 9. She said she owes her foundations in this country to the generosity of the Jewish community of Metro Detroit. It embraced her family and allowed her to attend Hillel Day School and Tamarack Camps where she was not only immersed in Jewish communal life but the vital skill of learning English.
Now, the artist and activist wishes to give back with her business by combining art with philanthropy. Grounded in the motto “Good Through Art Together,” Gazman launched YGazm as a company in the spring of 2022. She has allied with several nonprofit organizations to whom she donates portions of sales of her merchandised products from yoga pants to metal water bottles to tote bags.
“I have been thinking of launching a business for a while now, but this spring it all came together,” said Gazman, who has been candid with her battles with bipolar disorder. “I choose causes that align with my values, and I want YGazm to become the successful financial means to invest in the organizations that I care so much about. It has been a 20-year journey for me to get to where I am now.”
This summer, she launched her Hamsa Project in a flurry of emotions following the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Gazman said she has been transfixed on the hamsa, a symbol of God’s protection and love — ever since 2013 when she took Torah classes at the newly established Chabad of Greater Downtown Detroit.
Rifling through her box of paints, she chose red to reflect her anger. As a follow up, she continued the series in blue and green. The originals are on display for sale at Berkley Coffee. Half of the sales of merchandise such as metal water bottles, tote bags, mugs and museum-quality poster reprints — all priced at $40 — are donated to Michigan Reproductive Freedom for All (red), The Anti-Defamation League (blue) and the environmental resiliency nonprofit called the Greening of Detroit (green).
Gazman’s heart and mind are never too far away from the war in Ukraine. Her sister is surviving in Dnipro, and she has a nephew in Lviv. Sporadic phone calls to her sister are often punctuated by the sounds of sirens or explosions in the background, she said.
The war inspired Gazman to paint What the World Needs Now. The title composition portrays a multicolored flower painted on a flat black background. Each petal is lined with thick gold with the word “Love” inscribed in the center of the flower.
Another original painting, called Slava Ukraini, features an iconic image of a Russian nesting doll flanked with butterfly wings. Both paintings are for sale. Of each sale of the merchandise from this collection, $3 will be donated to World Central Kitchen, an organization providing frontline food assistance in Ukraine. So far, she has raised over $3,000 for this charity.
Recently, customers have reached out to the artist for individual commissions.
“I enjoy getting to know my clients who commission my work,” said Gazman, who is a member of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and last summer graduated from the ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute. “Many find my use of bright rainbow colors combined with Judaica themes very appealing.
“When I’m painting, I’m open to everything that is happening around me and on my canvas,” explained Gazman. “I really feel like art is like my divine gift and purpose. This is what needs to pass through me to make a better world.”
To shop for Gazman’s art, visit www.ygazmart.com/home or www.etsy.com/shop/YGazm.