The moment that we're in can be strange, frightening and full of uncertainty. One bright spot for me, however, has been communicating with past Semi-Finalists and finding out that they are all doing reasonably well. Schedules, routines, and access to materials may have been upended during the quarantine, but the urge to make something relevant has not been diminished. In the words of Tia Factor (featured below), the key to being creative in this time is learning "...to make a reduced world work, to be resilient, remain patient, practice kindness, and find moments of joy wherever you can."
I recently asked past S-F participants to send studio snapshots and a brief description of how they are navigating art and life during the pandemic. The results filled me with so much hope and I'm happy to be sharing these updates from an unstoppable group of artists.
Stay inside, stay healthy, and I hope this issue of S-F brings you a few moments of joy and inspiration.
(The following Semi-Finalists appear in alphabetical order. Click on the artist's name to be directed to their website or gallery.)
"I’m starting to plan for my 2021 show at Melanie Flood Projects. Making some larger paintings for this show and possibly some wall paintings. Lots of ideas swirling around in my head right now that are informing the work: histories and cultural ideas around wall coverings and ornamentation; the history of witch-hunts; menopause, aging and disease; homage; vanity; kitch; friendship; girlhood, etc." -Amy Bay
"Going to the studio every day even if it is just to clean. It is fundamental to keep my creative practice flowing. Working from home gives me the opportunity to discern and contextualize the content of my art.
Right now I am working on a life size ceramic sculpture for a public space and also on differently scaled sculptures. By working on this larger piece I'm learning how much I can push the material while solving technical problems." -Iván Carmona
"I've been staying in Eugene at my in-laws' house for the past three weeks, separated from my Portland studio. The pace is slow and simple with a focus on improving the home and property. Creatively, I'm mostly thinking about which trees to plant and how they will provide future benefit for both the urban wildlife habitat and the aesthetics of the neighborhood. Projecting into the future is keeping me distracted from our overwhelming current situation.
My ongoing "Citadel" series leads me to find or produce images of simple structural shelter and calm order, with an appropriate mood of meditative solitude. Here are a few recent linocut prints and photographs." -Doug Davidovich
"I'll admit I've indulged in a fantasy of using this quiet, seemingly simple time as if it were at an artist residency. This dream lasts only moments before I'm reminded that I am extremely far from that lovely place of focus and solitude. With all schools closed, I no longer have any break from my 11-year old child. Overnight I've become her full-time companion, her ad-hoc home school teacher, and even her PE teacher! And I'm reminded that my one week off from teaching college art for "spring break" was the same week I was tasked with figuring-out how to transform my art courses into a remote format.
This has been a creative time for sure, but definitely not in any of the ways I might have anticipated (or actually wanted). Its creativity is in how to make a reduced world work, to be resilient, remain patient, practice kindness, and find moments of joy wherever you can.
*Images are from my home studio and a new painting I'm working on from the Private Places series, based on conversations with folks who live in gated communities. The other images are ways we've found to cope during this crazy time, from writing-up a schedule (we never seem to stick to), to making bread and making slime." -Tia Factor
"I have been making a series of hand-drawn posters and shirts. I really like being able to make quick things at the moment since I am still doing school work." -Ralph Pugay
"What my studio practice looks like now:
Drawing. I have been drawing with ink on paper a lot. I find that it calms me and doesn't require the commitment of painting which is so difficult right now with the dull ache of anxiety that pervades each day. I made a little nest in my studio and use leftovers of ink, paper, crayons, and just meditatively build forms sometimes listening to music, sometimes to news. I have also been using my studio to start seedlings and sew masks for Sew to Save.
I am still teaching and working really hard to make painting relevant for my students through the thin medium of Zoom. The crazy expectation that I would have more time in the studio during the pandemic has not come to pass--I am busier than ever--home farming, teaching full-time, parenting, cooking, caretaking a parent from afar, staying sane. And like everyone else, trying to understand this moment and what it means. Daily responding is necessary. 4/7/2020" -Cara Tomlinson