In mid – March, while New Yorkers have just started perceiving the lurking threat of Covid-19, I was working in my studio on a large-scale installation for a scheduled exhibition. Since then the exhibition has been postponed perhaps indefinitely. The unfinished work still inhabits the studio space, as if abandoned in a hurry and then frozen in time. What I could carry with me from the studio besides some art supplies, were my thoughts and urge to keep working. I have been working from home since the closure, shifting my focus to a series of daily paintings and drawings while exploring ideas for new installations. It is too early to tell how this situation has affected my work, or for that matter, most likely, any other artist’s work. It is a long process and only time will tell.
That said, at the beginning of the quarantine I had a strong urge to reach out to other artists and learn how they were coping. Since I already had a web platform in Art Spiel, the online art publication I had established a few years ago, I reached out at first to a few artists and the word has spread at quite a dizzying rate. That is how the Artists on Coping series evolved. Since the end of March, the series has expanded into a wider collaborative project, including several other writers and editors, published daily till the end of June, when the series wraps up. The interviews feature over 125 artists from all over the world, with a focus on Brooklyn artists, including some from Dumbo.
It was somewhat consoling to realize how much I share with other artists despite diverse life circumstances and varied approaches to coping. I learned that during these unsettling days artists’ natural urge to grasp what is essential becomes both a burden and an energizer; that while feeling captive by this quarantine, many artists unexpectedly welcome isolation, allured not only by its appeal to further internalize, but also paradoxically by its force to bring us together; that self-restraint is a mode we all need to process in depth and try to learn from. Ultimately, there is an overall shared sense of both ongoing grief and relentless resilience.
The ongoing pandemic has also brutally exposed systemic flaws in our health, social, and political systems as evident in the recent historical protests on a global scale. Rescheduling the Dumbo Open Studio event as a gesture of solidarity is a symbolic pause to reflect, process, and hopefully explore the role of art and artists in the larger scheme of things.
Studio M10D, 20 Jay Street
Etty Yaniv: Perpetual Roads: Video by Hongdon Lee, courtesy of Space 776
DUMBO artists recently featured in Artists on Coping Art Spiel
Jamie Martinez: https://artspiel.org/artists-on-coping-jamie-martinez/
Mary Mattingly: https://artspiel.org/artists-on-coping-mary-mattingly/
Cheryl Wing Zi Wong: https://artspiel.org/artists-on-coping-cheryl-wing-zi-wong
Anne Peabody: https://artspiel.org/anne-peabody-sunspike/
Jessica Segall: https://artspiel.org/artists-on-coping-jessica-segall/
Laura Karetzky: https://artspiel.org/artists-on-coping-laura-karetzky/
Read more at: https://artspiel.org