This is the 165th installment of a series in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. This week, for a special Juneteenth edition, we’ve invited Black artists in Texas to reflect on quarantining from their studios. In light of COVID-19, we’ve been asking 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 in a future edition? Submit your studio — just check out the submission guidelines.
Dawn Okoro, Austin, Texas
My studio is a small room in my home. I chose this room because one of the walls is covered in windows that allow light and warmth to pour in. I paint in this room while listening to music in my headphones. I also use the room as a photography studio and a storage space.
When quarantine became my reality, I initially lost my appetite to create. I was drowning in anxiety. But after a few weeks, I was back in my studio, easing back into art by creating small drawings in muted tones. Then I began constructing new canvases so that I could begin painting again.
I went into quarantine in mid-March of 2020. As we approach Juneteenth, marking the day when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free, I remain at home, reflecting on a current uprising over racial injustice. I hope that the marks on my new canvases will document a moment of lasting change for the better.
Betelhem Makonnen, Austin, Texas
My studio has always been a sacred space of attention and observation for me. A retreat from the exhausting navigation of the matrix of constant distractions that is our day-to-day life, which often leaves us in a state of extreme anxiety believing we have no time to respond to ourselves, to each other, nor our world. Though architecturally separate from my body, my studio functions as a physical extension of my inner body, a room to breathe.
After weeks in lockdown, I resumed my studio time recently with meditative sweeping and organizing the remnants of material and tools that were strewn all over the place, in the aftermath of work for a solo show that I opened in March. This opening, which seems a hundred years ago, was more than likely the last time that most members of my city’s arts community were together in one space. This show, which ironically is called Rock Standard Time (RST), continues frozen inside the gallery where it opened on the eve of everything that is our new now, like a kind of surreal time capsule.
I am not currently “making” in the sense of objects or forms. I am reading a lot, unlearning and learning, mostly having daily conversations with other artists about strategies to ensure that this painfully intense time of unexampled experiences will bear necessary generative transformation on both the micro and macro level. I am acutely aware that this palpable potential brought to life with so much sacrifice and loss is too precious to waste. I am finding ways to actively align my practice to support and participate in the abolitionist movements of our times. Our times are in our hands. Work, rest, repeat.
Tammie Rubin, Austin, Texas
This is my studio; it’s empty because I just signed the lease. It’s empty because I have conflicted feelings renting a studio space in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and an uprising against police brutality and white supremacy. It’s empty because I feel guilty about renting a new studio when I have friends and colleagues who are out of work. It’s empty because it is a reminder that the week of March 10th everything changed. The university where I teach closed campus, and since that is also where I worked, I lost my studio. By working on campus, I modeled a studio practice for art students. It’s how I discovered I wanted to be an artist and art professor. My mentor would invite me into his studio which was attached to the classroom. When campus closed it was hard to believe I wouldn’t see my students in person again. My studio is empty because it’s exhausting to witness people who look like me be murdered in a callous mundane fashion. I can’t turn off my brain and I feel the compulsion to construct building. Making seems such a small act, yet I am an artist and the studio can’t be empty for long.
Ariel René Jackson, Austin, Texas
My easel consists of the dialogues I am engaged in whether they be found objects, theories, or conversation. They find their way into my studio through phone calls, face calls, or bits of notes — my wall catches them, nestled behind and entangled with attachments to the wall. During this pandemic I sit in meditation — reaching out to touch the ecosystem of thoughts I am reliant on, in relationship to, in conversation with. I keep all that is erased — the ghosts of my thoughts collaged together.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Artists Show What They Can Do With a Google Phone’s Camera
Works by 20 photographers are now on view in Manhattan for the seventh season and 100th project coming out of the Google Creator Labs.
Met Museum Kicked Me Out for Praying to My Ancestral Gods
My danced prayer to looted Cambodian antiquities was too much for the New York museum.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
A Museum Guard’s Ode to the Healing Power of Art
In All the Beauty in the World, Patrick Bringley revisits the many ways that art meets life, and life art, and how death is often the bridge between them.
UK Extends Export Ban on Coveted “Portrait of Omai”
London’s National Portrait Gallery was given a few months to acquire the work, which depicts the first Polynesian visitor to the UK.
Mondays at Pratt Institute: Weekly Openings of Work by Graduating Artists
Free and open to the public, Pratt Shows celebrate the school’s graduating students. MFA and BFA work on view this spring in Brooklyn, New York.
The Sculptor Making Art With Loved Ones’ Ashes
Inspired by the three-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Julian Stair’s exhibition honors the lives of eight people with cinerary jars.
Art Institute of Chicago Under Scrutiny Over Sacred Nepali Necklace
The 17th-century object remains on display at the Chicago museum despite Nepal’s calls for repatriation.
LSU School of Art Grants Highest MFA Stipends in the Southern US
With funded assistantships, full tuition waivers, and generous stipends, Louisiana State University helps students lay the groundwork for a successful lifelong art practice.
Art Problems: How Do I Get a Public Art Commission?
Want to leave a mark on your city or town, but don’t know where to start? Paddy Johnson has some tips.
Rose B. Simpson Embeds Ancestral Histories in Clay
She has taken clay and used it to recall its ancestral roots in Pueblo culture and address the present history of postcolonial recovery and ongoing trauma.
Everyone’s in Austin and there’s a lot more to Texas than Austin, but it’s a great start! Thank you for this piece!
I love these series!
Comments are closed.