Art in the Time of Pandemic 2
Part 2: Originally posted May 11, 2020
All art (c) the individual artists
P20-0402, acrylic on canvas, 27 diameter
"This is the first painting I've made since the end of February. Unable to shake the feeling that my work doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world (but nevertheless itching to do something), I scaled down and made this tondo. Does it express my wish to live on another planet? Possibly. I can tell you that the illusion of spherical volume is unintentional, and any resemblance to an actual virus, living or dead, is purely coincidental."
Inset: Julie Gross, C-19 Damn-penic, mixed media collage, 12 x 12 inches
In this post, which continues from Part 1, we look at more art created during this pandemic period. The focus here is on abstraction in all its glorious incarnations. And I must say that as much as I've loved seeing these images, what artists have to say about their work is equally compelling. Stay safe, friends. Keep making art. Meanwhile, notes Barbara Laube, "the world is speeding by at a standstill."
Susan E. Squires
Hanging In, encaustic and oil stick on panel, 30 x 30 inches
"For over a month this piece rested in my studio unfinished. I had no idea what to do with it. During that time, 32 days, I focused on making one small drawing a day, 6.25 by 6.25 inches, of a newly planted tree in my front yard. I liked sitting at the window. It was a daily meditation and an affirmation of where I was. It helped me feel grounded. Laying the 32 drawings out, I found them to be not only a record of that month of quarantine, but also a complete, inspiring piece. Two days after completing that series, I went up to my studio and resolved this painting. I’m now considering making more small daily works on paper, perhaps color studies. It looks like it will be awhile."
042920, gouache on panel, 14 x 11 inches
"It took me a couple of weeks to figure out how to make art at home, not something I’ve ever been good at. I was gentle on myself. I realized that the kitchen has the best light, so voila, kitchen it is. It’s a drag to have to move it all aside when I want to cook but I’m managing. I’m getting into the groove, have made about a dozen small paintings since lockdown. On the plus side, I have an online solo that is getting some press and have been interviewed for a blog, have had a virtual studio visit, and was invited to an online gallery space. So even though I’m not out in the world, I feel as though my work is."
Below: The Kitchen studio
Victory, mixed media on canvas, 60 x 72 inches
"This painting is for us all, especially doctors, nurses, and all essential workers."
Pandemic Meditation Series #1, Clorox on black Arches, 8 x 8 inches
"I started this series before the insane Trump suggested ingesting Lysol and Clorox. I was in my apartment, not the studio and not particularly motivated to create. I had those disinfectants at hand in bottles and sprays. I remembered tie dying my black clothes with bleach and making beautiful abstract patterns during my hippie days. Inspired by that memory, I cut up some black paper and did these paintings on my dining table, working directly with Clorox both pure and watered down as a painting medium. The tonality was so beautiful as it penetrated the dye pigment of the paper. Turns out that bleach is a perfect medium for this challenging time."
040420, graphite and acrylic on paper, 8 x 8 inches
"This drawing is part of my daily drawing series, so the title is the date of its completion. Eight inches square is the standard size I have been using for the past year. My work continues a daily practice which isn’t interrupted by what takes place outside my home and studio in Minneapolis. In that respect, the work is meditative, a concentration on what is occurring at the present—putting paint on paper. This stills my mind. The art is not an escape from the crises in the world, but a method of tempering an emotionally driven response to this seemingly chaotic time."
Corona Virus 13: Bubbles, acrylic on vinyl, 12 inches diameter
"I am lucky to have a studio at home. A week into sheltering in place I experienced a tidal wave of creative energy which has erupted into a prolific and evolving series. This current work explores feelings and images surrounding the pandemic virus, as well thoughts on hope, natural beauty, and solace. Born out of mandalas, which are often employed to aid mediation and provide sacred space, these pieces are both painterly and structured. It is said that creating mandalas helps stabilize and re-order inner life. I take comfort in that."
Ellen Hackl Fagan
Seeking the Sound of Cobalt Blue: Daisywheels; ink, pigment, acrylic on clayboard panel; 10 x 8 inches
"The studio is my source for renewal, a place of escape. I'm gearing up for a solo exhibition at Five Points Gallery in Torrington, Connecticut, for July. I have no idea if it will actually happen, but as the weather gets warmer, I'll be both inside the garage and out in my driveway, soaking panels and papers in pigment and water and objects. The studio becomes a chemistry lab of sorts."
Carole Freysz Gutierrez
Evolving 2, acrylic on four panels, 24 x 64 inches
Above: Detail of one panel
"I have been working up a storm. once I decided to go back to my old studio (our old house still not sold). I have been very disciplined working many hours every day and weeding in the hope that someone will finally fall in love with the garden."
Full view below
Uncharted Waters, oil and encaustic on panel, 12 x 36 inches
"I began work on this painting as I was listening to the news in my studio, before the pandemic reached our doors. I felt a compelling need to make a painting of open water, in red. The painting felt direct, unreal, and with an edge of unease to it. Prior to this, my color palette was all cool blues and calm . . . After a mandatory work-at-home order, I left my shared studio in a public art center and set up a temporary painting studio in my bedroom."
The French Bridge, acrylic on board, 48 x 48 inches
Louise P. Sloane
Crazy Bone, acrylic on linen, 40 x 30 inches
"I am still able to work every day in the studio, as it is attached to my home. The lyrics for the late great John Prine’s song, Egg and Daughter Night, are embedded as the texture. I began this painting before he became ill and ultimately died from Covid 19. His music still provides a happy background in my studio, and his lyrics always make me laugh—something we all need to do to keep our sanity. His music and lyrics still lift my spirits."
Off the Grid #3; acrylic, pencil, and colored polymer strips, 18 x 24 inches
"I've been working in my studio in Wainscott, New York. With no place to go and no one to see, I'm finding myself more focused than I've been for quite some time. I'm letting go of some of my 'rules' for making a picture. Using a pencil grid in the center of the page, I'm throwing paint, painting, and collaging with leftover polymer strips, lying around the studio."
Alexandra Rutsch Brock
Tears, colored pencil on paper, 12 x 8 inches
"Since the lockdown I have been teaching my high school art classes through Zoom and Google Slides. It is an exhausting process, and setting up lessons and slides to share with the classes takes hours. My husband bought me a beautiful set of colored pencils and I started doing daily drawings on the handmade paper I bought on a trip to London in October. I went for a long art weekend with six other New York City women artists, so the paper holds special meaning for me during this time away from friends, especially with the unknown time period before we can ever hope to travel again."
Rax, watercolor on 100% rag paper, 12 x 16 inches
"Time has slowed down considerably since there are no social obligations. It’s actually been a pleasure to disappear into the studio without watching the clock. I have always found working on the watercolors to be a meditation. They are intuitive and have been a healing presence when life has been less than kind. I have never had the noise of the art world in my head when I am making art. So many artists I know are aware of what is sellable or might get attention when they are making work. This has never been the way I approach my work. I am more interested in where my inspirations come from including art history but also life experiences."
Painting in progress
"On this piece I used a glaze to insert an element I have been trying to incorporate into a painting, a band with a serrated or zigzag edge. It runs vertically through each 'tower' of shapes, and despite the fact of its geometry, for me it introduces an element from nature into the work. I love working with yellow. The background is Indian Red, a color with such perfect qualities for what I do to it! I love how it spreads like a perfect mud on the canvas surface."
Yellow Something, acrylic on acrylic panel, 8.25 x 7.24. x.75 inches
Front and side views
"My work routine has deepened since the mandate to stay inside. I have continued working in my home studio. Without the pull to attend openings or visit exhibitions, my time is more relaxed. The sequestration has opened me to reflect on past work, bringing forward those aspects that I'd like to explore further. This piece is the beginning of a series I'm calling Infra. Infra refers to infrathin, a concept coined by Marcel Duchamp. He claimed the notion was impossible to define, that "one can only give examples of it." I think of it as intangible, yet undeniably present, beyond our full comprehension. Both eternal and ephemeral. Undefinable, ungraspable. This series came to be because while working on another project I ran out of the panel sizes I needed. While waiting for new panels to arrive, I attempted to use these, thicker panels from a past project. Failing for the project I was trying to continue, they revealed particular properties to enhance light and color (my constant quest), so I’m developing this new series further."
Spring Temporary Studio #10, video stills inkjet-printed on paper, 19 x 15 inches
"I was scheduled to be at the Millay Colony for the month of April. The residency was cancelled, but since I had been focusing on projects for the residency for several months prior to mid-March, I had materials and focus in-hand for my new temporary studio. The building where I live, on the Bowery, is underutilized, and I was able to set up a small studio in the top floor hallway. I love it. It even has a funky skylight, and it’s also very quiet! The world is in an unhappy state, but working in the temporary studio has come easily, something to be grateful for."
In My Own Head, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches
"For me, the pandemic is happening outside my house / my studio. The studio is the place where everything is unchanged. Like the daffodils in my garden that continue to grow, I continue to work as I have always worked. I’m thinking, has Covid 19 changed my work?"
Freeway: Toronto, watercolor and gouache on watercolor paper, 7 x 10 inches
"I have no access to my studio, where I traditionally work with wax. I have been working in a corner of my small living room using paper and water-based paints with a bit of collage sometimes. I’ve never considered myself a painter, but nonetheless, this is a painting I made over the past few weeks from my new series of 'system' paintings."
Covid Spring #65, graphite on paper, 12 x 18 inches
"I was sick for three weeks in late March during the beginning of our quarantine in Rhode Island. Even though I brought home from my studio some basic art supplies, they sat untouched on my dining room table for about a month. Once I tested negative for Covid 19 and started to feel stronger, my urge to make art slowly resumed. One evening in a fit of frustration over our entire situation, I picked up a handful of pencils and feverishly created 69 drawings in one sitting. Here is number 65 in the series. It's now early May and I’m venturing back into my studio. I'm working on getting some traction on the projects that I left there untouched during the height of the pandemic. I'm hoping to find my rhythm again. This is a strange time, for sure."
Corona 30, acrylic on paper, 9 x 12 inches
"I’ve been working at home. Sometimes very distracted. I’ve had a lot of brain fog from having the virus. It was awful. Thankfully I was’t hospitalized and it lasted only two weeks. I kept up my daily practice and did something every day, even if it was just chicken scratch."
Sunshine on a cloudy day #17, acrylic on panel with metal bracket and cotton cord, 15 x 6 inches
"I struggled in the early stages with making anything new. I'd go into my studio, but end up wandering around, getting distracted by looking at the news and social media on my phone. And looking out the window at the rapidly escalating changes happening in our city. The scope of these changes and my anxiety and fears stifled significant artmaking. Gradually, I resumed making new pieces in this series, which are small, mixed-media and assemblage paintings. Creating them led to an expansion into larger, more 'serious' works, and now I find that painting and constructing is one
of the few things keeping me sane right now."
Untitled, oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches
"Luckily I have been able to be in my studio. It's a great comfort and refuge. I keep thinking about the beginning of Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ." Trying to take a week at a time and settle in to not knowing."
One Morning When, watercolor and gouache on Fabriano, 20 x 16 inches
"This watercolor and many others were inspired from dying pink tulips on my kitchen table for two months this winter. I've been feeling lighter recently, shedding some of the heavy weight that grieving the loss of love can bring and settle into ones bones. The pandemic feels like a forced continuation of my own grieving, but my bounce is there. I see it in my work."
Sequester Series #5, gouache and pigment on paper, 11 x 12 inches
"My studio is at home so initially I continued to work on large paintings approximately 50 by 48 inches. As time went on these paintings felt out of sync with what I was feeling. I’ve turned to smaller works on paper, finding the pace and intimacy in the process more in line with the way time feels as I shelter in place."
Bits and Pieces; encaustic monotypes on paper and fabric with staples, thread, postcard; 21 x 24 inches
"My studio is in my house. Like many during the pandemic I started out cleaning and reorganizing. I revisited the bits and pieces of artwork, and memorabilia that I’ve collected over the years. As I looked at the piles on the table, I saw the beginnings of new work. There were items that I was unable to toss, including a postcard with the image of a Jasper Johns’ Flag painting. The postcard is dated 2008 and was sent by a close friend. The postcard is now part of my bricolage."
Sunday Afternoon Light, gouache on sculpted plywood, 10.5 x 5.3 inches
"I have found that this to be a residency period for me. The wheels have stopped turning. The engines are slowed. But the painting engines are full steam ahead! Being in the woods offers a cornucopia of forms and energies and combinations of elements that enhance and inform."
Times Three; ink, acrylic, crayon and paper collage; 13 x 13 inches
"Just as we all began to shelter in place I started a new project, which for me has provided a good combination of comfort and challenge. Along with an extensive collection of found images, as a compulsive archivist, I also save color tests and telephone doodles as well as snippets from failed drawings and paintings. Revisiting and incorporating these images and materials into new orchestrations has been a lifesaver, providing focus and direction during the stress and sadness of this frightening time. In many ways, I feel I am planting new seeds in order to cultivate a new garden. It is springtime after all!"
Grouping of six works on paper completed since self-isolating, all colored pencil on paper, each 12 x 9 inches
"I began self-isolating on March 13. I quickly set up an area to work in at home, since I have to commute to my studio by subway. I can paint small paintings at home, but I have enjoyed working on these colored pencil drawings so I’m going with it. I naturally work with bright color, but in these dark times, it seems needed more than ever. I title each one with the date I finished them. A recognition of the passing days of this pandemic."
Below: closer view of Untitled April 21, which appears at the bottom right of the grouping
A Yellow Crane Tower, collage on caper, 16 x 12 inches
"I began listening to a friend's cello and vocal composition entitled At Yellow Crane Tower, Seeing Off Friends one day in the studio at the start of the pandemic. The image of the tower took shape quickly, with a small shopping bag and other discarded paper pieces assembling themselves awkwardly to the haunting music--made more so by learning that this famed, ancient tower is in Wuhan, China."
Windows Above and Below, encaustic on panel, 20 x 20 inches
"I've had some unfinished panels on which I wanted to try out ideas for geometric forms. I began adding simple transparent bars going through the rectangles. In the one recently completed here, I liked the idea of windows on geometric forms. I believe that it makes a meaningful statement on the work to have these symbolic transparencies in our difficult time now. The bars represents a feeling of being trapped and the windows are looking out or in to see what the future may be."
Lisa Petker Mintz
Covid 19 #1, acrylic on panel, 8 x 8 inches
This, mixed media on vellum, 11 x 8.5 inches
"I am having a hard time being in the studio, as for me it is all about focus. However this past weekend I was able block out all the things that were bothering me and be in and with the work while simultaneously empathizing with the world outside my studio."
Rusty Grids, stoneware with post fired additions of rusted steel wire and oil paint/cold wax, 29 x 14 x 1.5 inches
"I usually alternate a week in my studio at an art center that's open to the public and a week in my home studio. Needless to say, the art center is shuttered for the forseeable future, so I've been working exclusively in my home studio since March 15, which has turned out to be more than OK. I like the quiet. I am spending full days in the studio almost every day and allowing myself the freedom to get to some new ideas that have been percolating for a while. What is missing is what everyone is missing: companionship of friends and other artists. Also income. That's missing."
Blue Rain, oil and acrylic on canvas, 16 x18 inches
"Being at home nearly two months seems to dull my perception. I was working on a large painting but it was hard to concentrate for a long stretch of time. I ended up doing several small paintings instead. I also reverted to a geometric form of yin and yang which I was using several years ago. I think I was trying to give an order to the environment which did not change all day and all night."
Dark Days; encaustic, graphite and charcoal powder on wood, 24 x 12 inches
"This painting surprised me. I had brought it home from my studio to work on it. I couldn’t go to my studio because I was self isolating after a hurried return from Europe. Things were in turmoil. It took me an unexpectedly long time to get to work. I was lucky to be in the comfort of my home and virus free. But the world was changing fast. It was stunning! I had a hard time focusing on work or anything else. It was hard to go back to what I was doing . . . I had to finish this piece. When it was done I was surprised to see how the surface was no longer concrete like the others in this series."
Thoughtful Mindedness, mixed media on plywood and panel, 38 x 22 x 9 inches
"My studio is in my home, so the pandemic hasn't affected my ability to work. I'm living alone so the isolation is harder and the events are making my work a bit darker and more contemplative."
Warmth in Darkness, oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches
"My home and studio are in downtown Brooklyn. Through this period the sound of sirens has been near constant in my neighborhood, each one echoing like cries of despair through the empty streets. I have been working but with a sense of sadness and loss, having good days and bad, struggling at times to concentrate. The recent paintings reflect my feeling of concentrated confinement that we are all sharing now."
Flat Line, encaustic and oil stick on rag paper, 30 x 22 inches
"I don't think being in lockdown mode has directly influenced my work, as I've always been interested in science and technology, but maybe it's having a subliminal effect. Who knows? I'm just happy to be in the studio working again."
PinkBallLadder #3, Digital image of 3D powder printed object and plastic drawing and varied light sources
"I’ve been designing and 3D printing objects, and drawing with a plastic pen, then composing and scanning the objects. I play with different lighting, from daylight, handheld flashlights and different kinds of bulbs . . . I am artist in residence in printmaking with Tanja Softić at the University of Richmond this semester and was digitally printing this series of plastic drawings, and planning a series of photopolymer prints when the university closed. I’ve been working from my home studio, and it’s been such a comfort to have all my materials and tools at hand during this extraordinary time . . .The image was scanned at 720dpi - the higher dpi resolution, the more time it takes to scan, which causes warping and glitching of the images and light."
Seen; canvas, thread, and tape; 60 x 47 inches
"I’m away from my studio at a cottage on Lake Seneca [in Upsate New York], working mostly on unfinished pieces that require a lot of sewing. The dining room table is my studio. I am trying to embrace having more quiet time and I am grateful to be making art. I finished this piece a couple of weeks ago. It is photographed hanging on the side of a red barn, the only large surface I could find."
Vetch Cutting; oil, encaustic, monotype, canvas, collage on panel, 20 x 20 inches
"My emotions are on a roller coaster. I go from organized mania to a dragging lethargy. But we are well and safe, my studio is on my property, and I can still run my gardening business, so I am very grateful."
Joan Stuart Ross
Counterweight I, mixed media on paper (ink, gesso, collage/rag paper), 15 x 11.25 inches
"As an immune-compromised visual artist, I fear that even though my life of making my work will be intact, my previous life as an engaged and supportive person who gathered with other artists, may be over."
Small Boat Big Moon, oil on linen, 29 x 23 inches
"What it has been like: Well, it has been both amazing and exhausting. I am fortunate. I live in a rural place, Southern Minnesota, and my studio is part of my house. The amazing part is how slow things seem to be. A slow spring emerging, the days are fast but also long. Time seems very different. The exhausting part is just trying to understand what is going on. How all the things that we have taken for granted have changed. Changes are being reflected, or maybe processed, in my drawings and paintings."
Silent Partner, oil on linen, 54 x 48 inches
"In some ways, my work life has gotten easier, with more time in the studio. But in other ways, psychologically and emotionally, it is harder to work. I feel lucky that my studio is downstairs from where we live, that I don’t have to travel. But, I miss seeing other artists and their work."
Lost and Found, watercolor, 9 x 12 inches
"As a person who struggles with worry on a good day, these times are especially challenging for me. When I am at work in my small home studio I am not obsessing on the state of the world. This painting, which depicts my need for preparedness, is a departure from my usual landscape theme. The red purse reflects my inner girl scout, always ready yet often beyond the reach of comfort. Clouds, for me embody the subtle logic of perpetual change, and I find painting them endlessly comforting."
Light in the Storm, acrylic and oil on panel, 11 x 14 inches
"We are lucky. My home, Maui, having limited hospital space, quarantined fairly quickly and we have been rewarded with relatively few cases. But that has meant no tourism. So no hotels and no shows means my income went to zero suddenly. But I have been here before and know I am still an artist."
Take Off, oil and enamel with collaged elements on cotton canvas, 52 x 72 inches
"I am thankful that I have a home studio and can work at all hours of the day or night. At first it was very hard to ignore and to concentrate, particularly losing a family member and being so aware of illness everywhere. However, I was able to break through and eventually focus again. This is the first of several paintings that I am creating right now in my studio."
Gathering, encaustic on panel, 16 x 16 inches
"For the first 39 days of self-isolation I had a difficult time feeling connected to my studio practice. I had trouble working through failures and largely went through the motions in an effort to soothe my sadness and anxiety. On the 40th morning I realized that life was going on even in seclusion. Determined to develop new habits that made the best use of my time in this new reality, I went to my home studio and began painting, using colors from a page of an inspiration notebook I’d put together the previous week. For the first time in weeks I felt hopeful and happy while working. I think this painting reflects that change in attitude. I’ve since been better able to work through problems and persevere, even when the work isn’t particularly successful."
Wild Woman, acrylic on canvas, 45 x 82 inches
"I often make large paintings, and due to the scale, it's been very difficult without my assistant here helping me, but I've been busy nonetheless with my painting routine and have made several new works in the last few weeks."
Joanie Gagnon San Chirico
Surge #8, acrylic, 35 x 58 inches
"My studio is attached to our home, so I’ve been fortunate to shelter here. Little has changed in that respect, but then so much has changed. My Surge series had been my interpretation of rising seas, but this one has become comments on the surge of Covid cases. It didn’t start out to be 'bloody,' but sometimes paintings have minds of their own. Still in progress, I'll see where it goes from here. Eventually I will add handstitching in topographical map patterns and then the painting will be stretched."
Why Are So Many Looking Away?, carbon pencil and gouache on Arches paper, 12 x 16 inches
"It took several weeks of intense fear that I would die from this virus before I could begin to paint again. I expected today’s painting to be chaotic and anxious, as that is how I felt for most of the day. When I read that the mayor of Las Vegas proposed that her city be a control group to see how many would die without social distancing, I went bonkers. Somehow deep breaths and Messaien’s music calmed me enough that my unconscious revealed a different kind of a painting. I am glad because I enjoyed painting today."
From A Narrow Place, fluid acrylics on paper, 9 x 16 inches
"I have been calling all the work made since quarantine From a Narrow Place.
A narrow place or fortress—in Hebrew, Mitzrayim— is the metaphor for the constriction the Israelites suffered during slavery before they were freed. It seems apt since we had the Seder during the second week of this extreme pandemic 'constriction' and we are still stuck."
Project in progress with handmade paper, indigo dye, and egg tempera
"It took me many weeks from the time New York City started social distancing to even think about making work. However, I was inspired to join a project for the United States Postal Service that artist Christina Massey created to raise awareness of the USPS’s financial difficulties. The concept is to create a small collaborative Exquisite Corpse-inspired artwork where each artist (two of us in my case) starts a piece individually and then sends it through the mail for their partner to finish. I am delighted to be paired with, Shira Toren, an artist I admire very much. I set up a small table in our dining area and got to work with the limited materials I have with me. This opportunity has given me purpose and a chance to connect with my community, which I was sorely missing. The images you see here are my half of the collaboration. I can't wait to see what happens! (Artwork and guidelines for the USPS Art Project can be found at @uspsartproject)
Untitled, mixed media on canvas, 18 x 24 inches
"The wife of a very dear friend was one of the first people to die from Covid 19 in British Columbia, and we just heard that my brother-in-law's grandson (28 years old) died in Baltimore. My thinking during sequestration: Painting and drawing have always been a form of meditation for me and I love being alone (when it's my choice). No real changes for me except I really miss seeing my daughters and grandkids. I walk everyday in the forest with a neighbour, six feet apart, and my wife. I'm grateful for Facetime and Zoom."
Shroud, tinted polymer on 140-lb. Yupo paper, 26 x 20 inches
"This period of time in the the studio has been an opportunity to slow down and to experiment...I have discovered Yupo!"
Cloud Memory, acrylic and shredded paper on panel, 15 x 48 inches
Above: center panel
"I was thinking about idle times, time passing and how time is spent. The notion of watching clouds, lying on the grass, looking up with arms folded behind my head is right up there with sitting and staring off lost in a daydream. Both can be done when there is time, lots of time. I wanted the cloud shapes to be comedic to represent the absurdity of our current times. They’re cliche on purpose. They’re painted on a piece I did fifteen years ago (a shredded drawing of a brushy hillside next to a corn field where I played as a child)."
Full view below
Go with the Flow, acrylic on Dura-lar, 10 x 10 inches
"I was working on two big projects that I had to put on hold due to the Stay in Place [order]. Both involved installations needing vendors that closed. Very stressful! (Both have been rescheduled for the week of May 18.) There is so much out of my control right now that while my projects are on hold, I decided to just let it go. In this work I experimented with fluid acrylic on Dura-Lar and to see where it takes me."
Blue Tide, watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
"Working from home was initially challenging. I missed the clear light and the spaciousness of my studio. I was also disappointed because my one-person show at Galatea Fine Art in Boston, scheduled for May, would be postponed. Yet the need to make art remained. After various experiments, I found watercolor worked. I’m interested in combining the structure of geometry with loose, spontaneous mark making. Though my paintings done at home continue these interests, they are more atmospheric. There is more of a focus on sea and sky and open space. For now my exhibition at Galatea Fine Art remains virtual, but hopefully, there will be a physical exhibition at a later date, and the watercolors that I’m doing now will lead to some new and interesting directions."
Eternity’s Gate; fiber, thread, and encaustic; 24 x 15 x 4 inches
"I am fortunate to still have work, but it’s been crazy trying to figure out how to teach art fully online. What has hit me hardest from the news is people dying alone. My Mom is in nursing care, and that idea haunts me. I have a tiny workspace at home and am surrounded by works in progress. I feel a need for beauty, even in thinking about the somber reality of eventual passing."
All Together Now, installation: branches, foam, rubber, plastic, acrylic, ink, mulberry bark, Latex, Tyvek, rawhide, fur, metal, textiles, and vinyl
"This installation was born out of the quarantine. At some point, shortly after the shelter-in-place orders, I began to think about the work made recently and over the years, some parts stuffed away on shelves and others hanging out in the studio or in process. I began to take everything out--found objects, finished works, materials and supplies--and started building a giant immersive painting/ installation/collage. Bringing together pieces from the studio to join forces in a time of social distancing is my ode to the studio and an ode to us."
Resting in Uncertainty; handmade recycled paper, abaca, organic matter; 12 x 12 inches
"Work has been slow in coming during these past couple of months. In addition to the upending of life as we knew it, which has been paired with an increasingly disturbing reality, I had been scheduled to resume work in the paper studio on April 1. Not being able to follow through with these plans required some adjusting, but the arrival of a new 12-by-12-inch mold and deckle has me inspired and excited to pursue papermaking in my home studio."
Above and below: Two pages of Desert Botany, mixed media on handmade paper, total size of 5 inches by 18 feet
"It is hard to get an idea from these two little segments, as this 18-foot-long accordion-fold book will be part of a larger installation. This in-progress book, started in January, is a microcosm of the whole. The plants, started more in a traditional botanical way, will be overcome by dangerous, thorny plants. Not as positive as I usually am, but then I've never lived through a pandemic.
"I keep thinking of Jean Paul Sartre's complete distrust of nature. When I lived in Paris in the early '80s I was reading all of Sartre's novels in the original French. He wrote that he lived in constant fear of plants, that he needed to be in the concrete of the city because he had this vision of plants taking over (think Chernobyl). So far the book looks rather tame, but that isn’t what is within my head. Crucifixion Thorn will take over until the last 10 pages are only a thicket of thorns. [Nash has photographed the plant in front of one of her pages, below.] I might consider letting a bit of blue sky start to some through the negative spaces in the final few pages as a token of hope, but I’ll see how the work unfolds."
Untitled drawing, charcoal and oil pastel on paper, 13 x 10 inches
"It's now seven weeks since I've been to my studio. I miss the solitude, the quiet, the throwing off of all worldly concerns for hours at a stretch. In the small workspace I've carved out at home, I've spent a few hours drawing now and then, but I find it difficult to focus. But on a positive note, I have no expectations and I'm letting myself wander wherever my hand takes me."
Spring Air and Bare Branches, watercolor and sumi ink on paper, 14 x 10 inches
"This is a watercolor I did a few of weeks ago while New York is on 'Ppause.' I have a studio in my home, and under normal circumstances having this much free time would be a dream come true as a painter, however I have found it very difficult to produce any art. I have gotten much solace by taking long walks in nature. Watching the trees working to produce their blossoms and leaves finally brought me to a place where I felt expressive. The first thing I did was make this watercolor/ink painting. I am planning to get outside and do more plein air painting, as being with nature has been very helpful for me."
Thorny Heart, ballpoint pen on paper, 9.5 x 7 inches
"Making my regular art during this pandemic has been difficult, and as much as I try it has been a struggle. With a studio full of art supplies, I picked up my sketchbook and a ballpoint pen, started doodling during online phone sessions, and these drawings emerged. Organic hybrids of human/animal/insect parts and flowers, they have thorns, spikes, teeth and claws--enticing, scary, grotesquely beautiful, and a reflection of my frustration during house arrest quarantine."
Where Have All the Flowers Gone, encaustic and fabric on panel, 40 x 40 inches
"Two of my adult children are on the front line. Such a distressing time. I am fortunate. My studio is where I temporarily forget about the current situation. Subconcious effects of the pandemic show up anyway."
C-Reflected, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches
"For the past few weeks, I have been working at home in a small bathroom that needs to be gutted. Instead of my very familiar oil sticks, which are in my studio, I ordered acrylic paints. This is my first quarantine acrylic painting."
Tree Talk, encaustic on panel, 18 x 18 inches
"Since March I have been mostly in the inability-to-focus group. My studio is [a building] in my back yard, so it is definitely available. It’s just that not much seems to happen there, energy wise. When focused I work on paintings referencing what I respond to on my neighborhood —lichen, stone, and tree bark. Nature looks and sounds extra alive without the cars and haze! I have been putting older art work in my front yard almost every day to lift the neighbors' spirits a bit, and I am making art postcards as part of a project that will deliver them to hospital workers."
Inflection Point I, mixed media on paper, 14 x 18 inches
"In this time of a pandemic I’ve been staying home and trying to focus in the studio. I’m full of sorrow—and rage—for the amount of suffering and the needless losses thanks to profound mismanagement, incompetence and malevolence. It made me think about how we are all in our own little spaces, isolated in parallel. In one sense my life hasn't changed much—my studio is in my home. I'm working to finish my MFA in a low-residence program and the MFA exhibition and thesis show got pushed out until Sept. I won't be surprised if it's online."
The Distance Between 3, oil and copper leaf on panel, 10 x 10 inches
"My studio is where I live and work, though little work happened during the early days of the pandemic. A lot of time was spent staring at studio walls and noticing the distance between nails and nonexistent paintings. Then a time warp, furious paintings painted with joy and a sense of immediacy, and all the while the world was speeding by at a standstill."
Emergence, encaustic on panel, 30 x 60 inches
"I just finished this one yesterday as a commission for a hospital in El Paso, Texas."