This is the 189th 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.
Some of the point of making art is that you don’t know what will happen. Making work during the pandemic has underscored that point. My exhibits have all been postponed so I’ve used this unscheduled time to print and hang all those images on which I’ve never had time to work. I’ve felt more comfortable in the studio than outside during COVID-19 and that has shifted the focus of my work in a way I’m really excited about. I’ve been painting on the prints, carving into them and, generally, making interventions that visualize the havoc and aggressive impulses that I feel inside.
I don’t think the work will be good merely because I get my feelings onto the paper — but it’s a place to start. Most of the time I manage to carry on in my cluttered studio on a daily basis. Seeing all my options hanging in front of me keeps the ideas flowing. In this way, the studio itself helps me keep up a set of standards that is entirely imposed from within. It’s true that there are many frustrating experiments that amount to nothing, so I usually start at a really small scale. If I knew how it was going to turn out, I suppose I wouldn’t bother actually doing it.
I have a lovely studio in Coney Island above the Freak Show and behind the Coney Island Museum. Since March, quarantining for health reasons, a corner of my room with natural light has become my studio, and I have gone from painting very large sideshow banners to obsessively filling sketchbooks with drawings and paintings. I join online model sessions from around the world, working with global models and artists to draw from the figure. Before COVID-19, my drawing materials went everywhere with me in a backpack; now they travel room to room much like an itinerant painter in a microcosm. This corner also serves as a classroom studio for my Fairleigh Dickinson University studio classes, which are online for COVID-19. Anywhere I plop down to work becomes a studio for me; my challenge in COVID-19 is translating the studio experience to my students. At the end of this fall semester, a student wrote to me and said how she loved when my cats visited the “studio” during class. It made me happy that the students feel like they are in a studio in COVID-19.
When the pandemic hit, I moved the studio necessities for a daily practice to my house and crammed them and myself into a small dining nook in the house. It had one tiny window and one weird outlet but it worked because instead of feeling inspired by the forced time apart, I felt emptied out. And reading about the creative bursts of inspiration from others made it strangely worse. But little by little it came back and I moved into a larger room at the back of the house with enough sun to blast away the plague gloom. I used the break that I took from studio work to teach virtual workshops and sketch loose ideas that I’m now excited to see through. Since I’m not venturing out to scrounge for paper materials, I’m working with materials that I dismissed before, which opens up new ideas. I have plenty of room to work on a few big pieces at a time and limitless smaller ones. I love being home and close to the coffee pot, the dog, my people, and my work is feeling fun again.
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