This the 153rd 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.
Jean-Michael Vissepó Ocasio, Nashville, Tennessee
Quarantined life is shaping my artistic practice and space. It’s an everyday adjustment. I am using the living room as my studio. The USA has not implemented mandatory quarantine, but I’m not taking risks, especially since my partner is immunocompromised. Our new normal led me to build in my new living room studio our “Decontamination Station Entrance” — a fun & educational, site-specific install entrance that serves the purpose of the namesake. The wall to the right is now used to hang current works in progress. The coffee table is my new desk and sketchbook table. In my daily process, I find myself constantly rearranging the furniture, depending on what task I’m working on or what I’m using the space for. My apartment is in East Nashville. One hundred and fifteen Covid cases reported in our county as of March 20, 2020. #stayhomechallenge
Chris Weller, Brooklyn, New York
The idea of being isolated in my studio sounds like another normal day. These times feel like anything but. After developing corona symptoms, I won’t be seeing my studio any time soon. It was easy to set up space in my kitchen. The difficulty is quieting the fear that I may get very sick compounded by the fear that everyone I love is also at risk. The paralyzing fear and 24/7, no-end-in-sight quarantine is soul-numbingly lonely. My plan is to get healthy and make some art. I want to express our fears and perhaps the nostalgia I’ve been feeling for a life not so mired in greed and mistrust. My preference is always to work from life, to draw the figure from life, to make my subway portrait “doodles” on the train while commuting, to work from the urban landscape of this city I love so much. Being holed up in my kitchen for the foreseeable future is not ideal, but here I am. What to do? I’ll get to work.
“Artist” is an amorphous job title. The best way to stay sane is to give it some definite form and purpose.
Sophia Arnold, Montreal, Québec, Canada
My studio has been moved to my home in light of COVID-19. I am currently a student at Concordia University, Montreal, where students have seen their spaces temporarily closed, forcing them to create makeshift setups.
It’s been quite fun to find new, easy ways to work within your home, especially when you create oil paintings that require a lot of ventilation and space. It allows you to get creative with the space and see your practice in a new light. It has been great in encouraging experimentation on a smaller scale to integrate into larger works at a later date.
Melissa Stern, Shokan, New York
I have left NYC for the Catskills where I have long maintained a summer studio. It’s on the ground floor of a 150-year-old barn. While sunny, the space is unheated and a bit of a challenge on 40-degree days. Bundled up in five layers of clothing, I have attempted to escape temporarily the horror of the news and make drawings that reflect how I’m feeling right now. That, too, has been a challenge, but a welcome one.
I’ve long made work that is figurative, psychological, emotional, and oddly funny. It’s the dark humor part that has helped me create art dealing with issues of gender, politics, and “girlhood” and that allows folks to connect their own personal stories to the more challenging aspects of my work. Humor is a great way to pull viewers into the work.
Lately, it’s been difficult to access the “funny” parts of my art or the rest of the world. I’m making drawings that are a more direct expression of the anxiety and uncertainty that I, and many others, are feeling. It seems imperative to express these feelings visually. They will be a visual document of this strange and surreal time.
Lisa Adams, Santa Monica, California
Just before the pandemic hit, I moved from a 1920s live/work space in the Arts District of downtown LA to a three-bedroom house in Santa Monica, California. After the move, my original intention was to find a dedicated workspace to use as a studio but because of the quarantine I’ve sequestered, and my living room now serves as my studio. I’m just now finding my way, making the same scale oil paintings as before; however, I feel that working quickly on paper might be more compelling to me at this time. The real-time pace of urgency seems best expressed in small work that can be completed in a day or two. I’m thinking of maybe giving away the small works on paper. I got this idea from artist Chris Finley, who, in the past, had done this in an Instagram raffle. It was brilliant and I actually won a beautiful work of his. As I’m sure is true for many artists, quarantine seems like heaven. I never have to leave my studio or my house. This is proving to be a highly productive time.