spring sketchbook

March — May 2020

Usually I present these seasonal sketchbook blog posts without much commentary, but looking back through photos from this period brought back the anxious, frozen feeling in my stomach from early March as NYC shut down and the numbers of people sick, dying, losing their jobs kept rising and rising and rising so quickly. I have been saying to myself for years now that for me all generative acts are the work (not just making finished paintings or drawings) and this spring reflected that truth back to me very plainly.

When “the job” work (planning events) obviously isn’t happening, and “the art” work isn’t happening in the same way of taking public transit to the studio, and even other practices like yoga in the local studio or working in the community garden take different forms… what is left?

  • moving my body
  • writing three pages of words by hand each morning
  • sitting still and doing “nothing” but paying attention to breath
  • and also the harder work which is what my art practice teaches me: paying attention (to the grief and the blatant inequities and injustices crisis exposes, to my own tendency toward becoming very, very still and small when I am afraid… maybe if I don’t move even a centimeter, this pain will go away)

What is left was a collapse onto these practices I felt so, so thankful to have been slowly cultivating, and finding them sturdy enough to lean extra heavy onto during these three months. This was my “sketchbook” for this spring 2020 — a response to what I was seeing and thinking about more broadly than things that show up in pen-and-paper sketches, and deeper recognition that these two things aren’t different or separate. In art practice and in living: curious, careful attention in an attempt to see what really is — a spiritual, and dangerously practical pursuit.

One communal response has been to volunteer + commit monthly funds to Bed-Stuy Strong, a group of neighbors providing groceries and essential supplies amidst the covid-19 pandemic. Anyone experiencing hunger is welcome to request a delivery, though most deliveries have been made to the elderly, immunocompromised, or disabled neighbors. You can read more about BSS here and here.

Another, this tool for redistributing wealth as a still-employed person. And the #MuseumWorkersFund for colleagues across the field who have been unceremoniously laid off amidst a global health crisis — in the words of the organizers, “It has become clear to us that when our institutions will not stand in solidarity with us, we must stand in solidarity with one another.”

And finally, though certainly not least — this renewed commitment, co-signed and public so that I will hold myself to it: arts workers for Black lives.

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