Home Art A View From the Easel During Times of Quarantine

A View From the Easel During Times of Quarantine

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This is the 166th 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 changed their studio space and/or if they are focusing on particular projects while quarantining. Want to take part? Submit your studio — just check out the submission guidelines.

Sarah Morejohn, Plainsboro, New Jersey

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My studio is located in a corner of my apartment that I share with my husband and our pet rabbit. I’ve had this setup before the quarantine; in fact, I haven’t had a dedicated studio space since graduating college in 2011. I don’t know if this has helped or hindered me. Sometimes I wish I could have a large empty space to make my work in and watch the drawings ripple out from one another, but at the moment this is the most comforting place I have. I feel guilty luck to have financial security and to be in an emotionally stable relationship. My work has shifted since March in many ways. I’m making drawings with a different mark-making language on larger sheets of paper, I’m cutting things out, I’m finding myself trying any wild idea, knowing that I have vast amounts of time to spend. At first, I was working a lot trying to quell anxiety and uncertainty. Now I’m racing less, trying to relearn how to be.

Star Trauth, Miami, Florida

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On March 9 I walked to dinner with my husband and returned hone. That was the last time I was out. I’m high-risk. I’ve suffered many respiratory illnesses, ICU, and intubation; home is where I am. I’ve survived much. Art is my salve, family is my peace. So I stay, during which I’ve scratched open many scabs to create pieces while inside. On view are several pieces in various states of progress. I like to work on more than one at a time.

It does press down on me, how much a person can bear. What type of illness or abuse can you come back from? How much can I take? Can you take? My work explores how much my material can take before it burns to nothing. It starts as water bottle waste turned into fiber. I give it life again just to see how far I can stretch it. Literally.

I hand-mold and fire-mold each component. Each one its own work of art. I assemble it into mounted sculpture or tapestry. I’m taking waste from man and bending it to my will to give back something interesting and beautiful.

Poonam Jain, Bangalore, India

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I have been in Bangalore since the 20th of March. I came here from Bombay with the few papers and pens that I always carry during short travels. As it turns out, my stay here is for a longer period this time.

Boredom gave me time to clean the excess messages and emails from my phone. These texts and immobility have become materials to make a series of drawings; at least that’s the idea for now. These are also just sketches, yet a way of passing time in an ineffable period. I like to think as if I am using Law of Conservation of Energy, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and that energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. In these drawings, virtual trash becomes material to fill space in twisted architectural spaces that resemble crumbled paper or beaten metal sheets.

Luci Gutierrez, Washington, DC

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The portrait of an artist is a difficult thing to capture. The canvases that we create memorialize a moment of beauty, of inspiration, of a deeply moving feeling, sometimes wrought through months or years of work. But what the canvas forgets is all the moments surrounding it. The nights where we stay up to paint after the children have gone to sleep, the hours that we spent typing at our keyboards during office hours with paint-stained fingers, the things that we sacrificed to keep the dream going.

But the dream lives. It moves through me. It’s carried through me, through generations of inspired women. When I paint, I paint about home, I paint the wild earth and the deep greens of the Amazon, I paint the dirt so that you can almost feel it in your fingers, and the sky so that you can almost touch the stars.

And so I built my home like I built my art, to remind me of where I’m from, to remind my children, who watch me create every day. I want them to know that even in this world we live in, that the dream is still real. That there is magic in the universe, and it doesn’t come from some far-off place, but it’s built at home, in the space in which we live, where they watch me paint, where we can create new worlds together.

Petey Brown, Brooklyn, New York

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Being sequestered at home in Brooklyn has changed my routine as well as my subject matter. Because I am in the vulnerable group I have stayed home; because of this, I make sure to do a yoga routine every day first thing in the morning. Previously, I took daily walks of at least three miles, but these are no longer happening. Neither are commutes to my lovely studio in Soho where I have been working for more than 20 years. Instead, I have repurposed a guest room (which we are very lucky to have) into a studio by covering everything with plastic tarps. The bed has become a surface for supplies and pieces that are drying. A side table with drawers for guests’ belongings now serves as a palette table. I am taking inspiration from domestic surroundings, my environment inside and out. Brownstone details combined with figurative suggestions are a comfort for me right now. Smaller formats work for these personal pieces.

Although I am physically comfortable, the horrific news is a continuing presence in this calm home. I am not marching but can hear chants of the protestors on Flatbush Ave and join in silent accord.

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