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From the Studio: Carrie Moyer

From Carrie Moyer:

I woke up to Covid-19 on March 12, after reading a gut-wrenching report from Milan and Northern Italy in the New York Times. My wife, sculptor Sheila Pepe, and I had spent most of last Fall in Umbria, where I became completely enamored of all things Italian. The fact that my new love could be completely ravaged by a virus in a matter of weeks was shocking; I started working from home the next day.

Between the advent of spring and the bracing, exhaust-free air, my neighborhood in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is sparkling and lovely these days. Fifth Avenue, normally jammed with families, is mostly shuttered except for the small storefronts selling fruits and vegetables. My days are consumed with trying to teach painting on Zoom and running the Hunter MFA Program from my dining room table. In between, I sit on my stoop in the sunshine, take walks, and cook (a satisfying new form of relaxation!). I don’t think I’ve eaten so many homecooked meals in my adult life.

My studio continues to be a sanctuary, now more than ever. It’s short walk from home, through the industrial waterfront, where it’s easy to stay six feet away from anyone. When Covid hit, I was getting ready for a solo booth at Frieze New York and looking forward to "Kick Ass Painting," a group show with Louise Fishman and Brenda Goodman at Anat Ebgi Gallery, Los Angeles. After spending months pulling very late nights in the studio, it’s been strange and disorienting to screech to a halt. The “pause” can be seen as a slow-motion train wreck or a “wrinkle in time,” that opens our minds for sweeping and systemic reinvention. It’s like we’re all going back to the land, but from the comfort of our apartments.

Reading fiction and other works of the imagination feels more important and nourishing than ever. Returning to favorite artists and artworks is also grounding. The strange pause is giving me a chance to return to the many exhibition catalogs and monographs piled up in my studio. Among the stacks, I found the MoMA catalog for "Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern," which contains Pavel Tchelitchew’s fabulous costume designs for the 1941 ballet, “The Cave of Sleep” — another gem to bury in my brain for future excavation.

I usually have four or five new paintings going in the studio at one time. (The deck keeps getting reshuffled as I reject a picture and then attempt to resuscitate it, sometimes to no avail!) Armed with a box of Color-Aid paper, single-edged blades, bone folder and packing tape, I make piles of collages to map out future compositions and color relationships.

Symmetry; totems and figures; portals and gates into contradictory spaces all continue to fascinate me. The emanation and materiality of light. Experimentation on the surface of the canvas with different paints and binders is always where I find the most joy as I move from painting to painting. My visit to Italy last fall fed a growing excitement about introducing pattern and repetition to my paintings, either through drawing or working with preexisting patterns as a basis for mutation.

The privilege of having a studio, a solitary space dedicated to thinking, processing, and making something of this moment is not lost on me. My dedication to the expression of pleasure and joy seems more pressing than ever.

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