What projects are you currently working on and how is social distancing affecting your art practice?
Patty Carroll (PC): Like all of us, I have been sequestered at home. Unlike many of us, I was hit with the world’s worst cold after returning from England in mid-March. We got back just as everything was shutting down. The cold from hell lasted more than three weeks, and just as I was getting over it, I was rushed to the emergency room, where they determined I needed to have my appendix out fast! So, instead of happily playing with all my mannequins, materials, and household objects to make pictures in the studio, I have been recovering by watching old movies and sleeping a lot! However, I am now returning to the land of the living, breathing, and talking, and I am antsy to get back to the studio. (The good news is I do not have the coronavirus!)
Before the lockdown, I was making red, white, and blue pictures about the constant barrage of politics. It hasn’t really let up, but instead, the concentration of news has shifted to the dreaded coronavirus. It is hard to ponder larger issues when we are confined to our homes and are concerned with the everyday issues of cooking, cleaning, eating, sleeping, and what is on Netflix for entertainment. Nevertheless, all of my photographs are about those simple, ordinary, yet overwhelming tasks that we carry out every day. I did not anticipate this lockdown, but my pictures are about experiencing it.
Like most artists, social distancing at some point doesn’t matter, because we are often in the studio alone with our thoughts and music, making whatever seems right at the time. When I do get back to actually working with objects, (not on the computer), I will be making still-life images with the myriad of stuff hanging around the studio. However, my main series, Anonymous Women requires helpers and shopping, both of which are not available right now. So that work is on hold. I think because we are confined, it is a time to do more reflecting, experimenting, and work on things that are maybe on a back burner.
Jillian Youngbird (JY): My partner and I bought a house to renovate in January. We just recently moved in and so I’ve luckily been really busy working on home improvement projects that needed to be finished. I’ve had a lot to do, which has helped with any anxiety I’ve been having. I actually just within the last week got back into any art making, and it’s been interesting, because now that I’m in a position of not having any deadlines, and not working on projects for shows for proposals, the art making process has changed for me—as I’m sure it has for everyone! Art, has become again, a practice that is just for me, just for my own comfort and creative outlet, which is something I haven’t felt in a long time. That aspect of all of this has been a little healing for me.
I’ve been working on two projects. The first is a beaded face mask, and the second is a to-scale canoe sculpture that I’ll be quilting over, then placing on a base made to look as though it is sinking. The title of this one will be “Comfort in the Sinking Feeling.” Clearly these two things have been deeply informed by our current situation.
What advice and tips can you give to artists during this time?
PC: The advice I always have to any artist is to keep going, follow your heart and mind, and don’t get influenced by negative crap.
JY: As far as any advice I have to other artists, or people in general…I think my number one piece of advice is to just be as gentle with yourself as possible. If you’re an artist and you’re not working on art, that is ok. You don’t have to be productive and you don’t have to be hard on yourself, it’s honestly the last thing you need right now.
How are you cultivating community for yourself and what can the community be doing to support artists?
PC: As for community, I am actively Zooming with friends and colleagues. Because I was so sick for so long, I have not taken the initiative as I normally would, but am jumping back in the game with email, texting, and Zoom.
JY: Here in Kansas City, I’ve seen a huge outpouring of support and love in the KC arts community. Organizations have started relief funds, people are buying groceries for each other, things like that. For me, I’ve been sewing masks for my friends, family and for the support staff of the non-profit that I worked for. So at least here, it feels like we’re all each other’s’ safety net at the moment.