This is the 191st 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 impacted their studio space and/or if their work process has changed while quarantining. Want to take part? Please submit your studio! Just check out the submission guidelines.
“Welcome. To my studio. Welcome. To the church. Like any, it mirrors the believer. Me. I am it all. When I am here, I am the creator, the communicator, and the moral. A metamorphosis of the holy trinity. Mine. The studio is always there for me, carrying me, and crusading my every cause. There, through every part of the process, every layer of paint, manifesting my every vision. Sacrificing it all. And everything for me. This sanctuary and monastery, it exists for me. My Eden, my heavens, purgatory, and inferno. My gateways and portals. All in one and at once.”
This is an excerpt from a longer piece I wrote during the quarantine, which reflects my interest in origins and contemporary iterations of symbology, mysticism, and religious archetypes. In 2020, I have been deeply grateful for my studio, to have one, and to be able to paint. In August my family was blessed with the birth of our daughter. Since her birth, I have been painting portraits of her and my wife — Madonna. My studio, both isolated and open, has been relatively active. The studio is me, sometimes the whole family, and when possible, it is friends and colleagues — where we listen, share, learn, and act.
I moved into my studio in the summer of quarantine. I am in a storefront in East LA, so it’s one large open space with great light from the window that leads to the street, and I can see my paintings from everywhere, even when I’m up in my lofted bed. Having no specific end of the workday might be a nightmare for some people, but for me it keeps everything exciting and open-ended. I don’t have to finish anything or clean up by 7pm for dinner, for example. I can work, cook dinner, then work again for a couple hours before bed if I feel like it. The absence of boundaries is necessary for me — I’m more immersed in my work than ever before.
Laura Bell, the Bronx, New York
I live and have my studio in the Bronx, walking distance from Woodlawn Cemetery. When the COVID-19 quarantine hit, I began drawing there with another painter, masked and distanced, as a way to find a sense of freedom in a compressed situation. It had been a long time since I’d placed myself right there on the ground, drawing directly from the landscape, though the profusion and power of the natural world and our collisions with it have long been at the heart of my paintings. I tuned in to the commingling of monuments to human lives — angels, crosses, plain stone markers— with oaks and willows, herons and cattails. Pencils, colored pencils, charcoal, pastels, ink, markers, crayons — the contents of all of the coffee cans in my studio came into play, along with ideas about memory, legacy, death. How we will look back on this time, and how it will change us.
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