This is the 183rd installment of a series in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. In light of COVID-19, we’ve asked participants to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted their studio space and/or if their work process has changed while quarantining. Want to take part? Please submit your studio! Just check out the submission guidelines.
Before the pandemic I was very jealous of having my own space to focus and create. Once a den with closed doors, my working area is now where our dining room use to be. After lockdown I realized that I had not been at my studio for weeks, so I needed I adapt. I moved upstairs so I could work while preparing meals and homeschooling my 5-year-old. My husband is working from home too, so the three of us are home all the time. There’s no quiet time as it used to be, when they went to the office and school. There’s no separation, no prolonged hours for inspiration. I’m in the midst of it every day, making plans while cooking, editing while helping with sight words. My work is political and based on my perspective as a mother, but I used to think I needed my own time to make. Now independence has been traded for interdependence. My son leaves small tokens on my desk, toys, drawings, “I love you” cards. “For you to remember me while you’re working” he says. As if we were not together 24/7. As if I could ever forget about him for a second.
My wife and I moved a few months ago, into a larger apartment to accommodate our newborn daughter, and the place we lucked into includes a great basement that I moved my studio into. Though I had to give up a little cherished natural light, I feel like I gained a lot in the transition, not least being able to work from home and spend less time out in the world during quarantine times and more time close to my daughter and wife. During the first lockdown we spent some time upstate and I started making a series of sculptural climbing holds. I have enough space here to test those as I cast them, and to do a lot of the processes that are staples of my practice. I have space to carve and even a little window woodburning station. And, for the first time, I have a closet devoted to drying wood for carving, almost like a little private kiln. I’m looking so, so forward to a time when I can have visitors over to the new studio and grill in the tiny backyard alleyway that leads down into the basement and serves as another testing/training wall for the climbing holds. I promise to tidy up before you come over.
This is the table where I spend most hours of the day and night. By day this is where I work as an architect in front of the computer, and by night and on weekends it is also where I make my art. (I sleep in the bed that is just out of the camera frame.) I can shift the computer monitor and keyboard back to make room for my watercolor paper, ruler, triangle, and brushes. I have always made small watercolors, appropriate to the amount of space I have to work in, but since we began quarantining, I have had more time to work, and so I have been making larger pieces that maximize the size of the desk.
I don’t need much space to make my work, and I have been surprised to discover how much I feel sustained by this compact space. Here, I am surrounded by the objects that are meaningful to me: the chair I made in graduate school, my mother’s art and my father’s photographs on the wall, my ceramics, and the table I designed with my husband. While the space may be small, it has given me the confidence and energy to keep painting big.
As COVID-19 set in, and exhibitions turned virtual, I realized I was going to need to pivot my durational performance and installation work for the online realm. As my traditional studio space has no internet capabilities, I decided to turn my 550-square-foot one-bedroom apartment into a live stream performance space.
Pictured here you can see the maze of web cams and tripods, along with my makeshift green screen set up next to artifacts I use in my performances. With this set up I have been able to stream my work in real time on Twitch.tv. Twitch.tv has helped me maintain the live and interactive nature of my performances through coded Twitch chat commands. In my performances I have been focused on the body and its relationship to the landscape more than ever now during this year, where both feel so fragile. This new avenue inspires me to keep creating and streaming, I feel liberated to have created my own space that can be broadcast anywhere.
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