Welcome to the 204th installment of A View From the Easel, a series in which artists reflect on their workspace. In this edition, we peek into studios in Harlem, Tennessee, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn — where artists are witnessing their neighborhoods change, making use of tight spaces, collecting essential tools, and working alongside family members.

Want to take part? Check out our submission guidelines and share a bit about your studio with us!

Ann Jackson, Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee

I am a mixed media artist with a background in graphic design. My studio space, located in my basement, is used for my design business in one corner, and my art table in another corner. In yet another corner my 24-year-old nonbinary child works on their photography and video art. The rest of the space includes my completed paintings, art prints and photographs from artists who inspire me, bookshelves full of art books purchased at resale stores, and a sofa for thinking and relaxing.

We are very fortunate to have a gorgeous lake view with lots of wildlife running around. I photograph nature using my phone, and base my abstract paintings off those nature scenes. I am grateful to live 30 minutes away from Chattanooga, a city that simultaneously has abundant opportunities to be in nature, and well as substantial investments in the arts.

Peter Cole, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

My studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is small but only a brief walk from my apartment, which means I visit it often and easily. It’s less than 200 square feet, but has both sink and window. 

I make sculptures with mostly found and scavenged material, often forming collections of 108 objects. Pictured is a stack of 108 found hats, 108 graduated round stones and a steel Möbius strip with 108 toy ambulances driving forever.  I keep my materials handy in numerous vintage LL Bean bags, which are easily accessible and visually interesting as a collection itself. There’s a lot of preparation and modification of objects so I’ve a bandsaw, drill press and stone-cutting saw, as well as a riveter, grommet tools and a welder on hand. My current project at lower right is a prayer necklace with its requisite 108 beads, made from the heads of toys.

Larry Bentley, Harlem, New York

What you see in this photo is an attempt to live and work harmoniously in a small New York City apartment, trying to make use of every square inch possible.

On my easel, which I found at a vintage consignment store, is my latest painting. Hanging on the wall is my first attempt at painting on an unstretched canvas, both of which are part of a new series I’m working on.

You may be able to determine from the picture, noticing the Danish modern table, minimalist streamlined sofa and the bubble cigar pendant, that I have an affinity for mid-century modern, of which I highly subscribe to and it’s reflective in my artistic style.

As an incessant orderly neat freak, it’s been challenging trying to maintain order and space for art supplies, boxes, bags, etc. … and everyday living, but it’s a challenge I welcome each morning when I awake to paint.

Jennifer Baker, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

My studio is in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. I have been here since I graduated from PAFA in 1978. It is the best studio I could imagine, and so I have stayed. As the neighborhood has changed over 40 years, not always for the better, it has become my subject. I have documented the transition from a neighborhood of small factories and rowhouses, passing through a convulsive era of fires, demolition, and emptiness, to a different neighborhood emblematic of unrestrained building and development. As my 360-degree views of the city and the Delaware River have been blocked by taller and taller buildings, I found that the only way to ameliorate my sadness about this was to document the process. My images have evolved from demolition, decay, and fires to construction sites and walls eating up my visible world. In the photo, there is a large sculpture in front of the arched window, and another in the foreground. I began as a sculptor, started painting my sculptures, and eventually evolved into making paintings and monoprints. The large (18 feet) painting on the wall is my current project, a family portrait that grew from my pandemic experience of loss of family members and family home.

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Lakshmi Rivera Amin

Lakshmi Rivera Amin (she/her) is a writer and artist based in New York City. She currently works as Hyperallergic's editorial coordinator.

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