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STUDIO STORIES 2020

STUDIO STORIES 2020 is a collection of short interviews with artists who have been making contemporary work during the Covid 19 pandemic. It introduces readers to the ways in which artists continue to create and adapt their practice today.
curated BY Lilach Schrag

ABOUT STUDIO STORIES 2020 - As the global health pandemic changed artists' lives and practice, Chicago-based artist Lilach Schrag found herself drawn to stories of how artists were adapting to lockdown and the new reality. The result is Lilach's curated presentation "Studio Stories 2020", hosted by Kol HaOt. "When I realized it would be impossible to have my scheduled June residency at Kol HaOt's gallery in Jerusalem, I reached out instead to colleagues and friends around the world who make contemporary art and started collecting their stories. I asked them to provide a glimpse into their mission, their methods, and their hearts. They spoke about their work, altered daily routines, challenging moments, uplifting realizations, and the ways in which they continue to create and adjust their practice during the pandemic. Individually, from their homes and their studios, they tell fascinating stories with thoughtful words and beautiful artwork. Collectively, they offer a snapshot of artists responding to the unprecedented reality of our time.” – Lilach Schrag, 2020

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karen Perl

KAREN PERL EARNED A DEGREE IN DRAWING AND PAINTING FROM THE SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO. AFTER A YEAR OF PAINTING FOGGY DREAMY LANDSCAPES IN DUBLIN, IRELAND, AND TWO YEARS IN THE WARM GOLDEN SUNLIGHT OF SOUTHERN FRANCE, SHE SPENT NEARLY 10 YEARS PAINTING IN THE STREETS OF CHICAGO. WHEN SHE BROUGHT HER EASEL BACK INDOORS, HER CITYSCAPES MORPHED FROM DESCRIPTIONS OF PHYSICAL LOCATIONS INTO EMOTIONAL MYSTERIOUS DREAMSCAPES.

I AM PRIMARILY A PAINTER OF STREETS AND BUILDINGS. MOST OF MY PAINTINGS DO NOT HAVE PEOPLE OR CARS IN THEM.

IGNORING CARS AND PEOPLE, I CAN FOCUS ON THE GENERAL SHAPES OF BUILDINGS, THE PLACEMENT OF THE HORIZON LINE, LINES OF DIRECTION, AND COLORS.

Adam’s Apple - Oil on Plywood, 18” x 8”, 2020

AS I PAINT, I AM EDITING OUT ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT ADD TO THE COMPOSITION, SIMPLIFYING FOR SAKE OF THE COMPOSITION.

THIS IS A PROCESS I DEVELOPED WHILE PAINTING OUTSIDE, OF TRANSLATING WHAT I SEE IN THE REAL WORLD IN THREE DIMENSIONS ONTO A FLAT TWO-DIMENSIONAL SURFACE.

Comfort Dog - Oil on Plywood, 50” x 25”, 2020

JUST LIKE DRAWING FROM THE HUMAN FIGURE IN A LIFE DRAWING CLASS, I AM TRYING TO CAPTURE THE ESSENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF WHAT IS THERE.

MY HOPE IS THAT IN THE STILLNESS OF THE RESULTING PAINTING, THERE WILL STILL BE A SENSE OF LIFE, IF ONLY BECAUSE IT NEVER GOES UNNOTICED THAT ALL SEMBLANCE OF LIFE IS MISSING.

Afternoon Light - Oil on Plywood, 30” x 15”, 2020

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Since I paint mostly indoors now, neither the pandemic nor the ongoing social unrest has changed my method of working. But a few things have become more obvious.
THE ACTIVITY OF PAINTING HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERAPEUTIC FOR ME. NOW, PAINTING IS THE ONLY ACTIVITY THAT OFFERS AN EFFECTIVE ESCAPE. IT ALLOWS ME TO EXPRESS MY FEELINGS, AND IT IS CATHARTIC.
Finding the wherewithal to claim time for my painting has always been a challenge. It is no longer. In the midst of all of the chaos that is the state of the world today, my studio is a safe place.
I make no apologies that at times painting is the only activity that will calm me down. Something that I have often suspected about myself is that I am an introvert.

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Afterlife - Oil on Plywood, 12” x 12”, 2019
Grace - Oil on Plywood, 20” x 12”, 2020

BECAUSE I AM A CHILD OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS, I GREW UP WITH A PARTICULAR STORY LINE. LIFE CAN BE COMPLETELY DISRUPTED BY EVENTS THAT YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER, AND THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN. BUT ODDLY, THIS IS NOT THE ASPECT OF THE PANDEMIC THAT I HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY.

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Chicago, West Town - Oil on Plywood, 12” x 6”, 2020

I SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH MY MOTHER NOW. SHE LOST ALL OF HER IMMEDIATE FAMILY, FIVE BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND HER PARENTS AT AUSCHWITZ. SHE HAS BEEN IN MOURNING HER WHOLE LIFE. BUT, RECENTLY, SHE HAS FOUND ANOTHER PART OF HER VOICE IN ANGER.

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Mandela Road - Oil on Plywood, 2020

VARIOUS CURRENT EVENTS, INCLUDING REFERENCES TO WHITE SUPREMACY, HAVE BROUGHT HER RIGHT BACK TO A WORLD THAT SHE KNEW VERY WELL. SHE IS MANAGING OK WITH THE PANDEMIC ITSELF, BUT NOT WITH THE WAY IT HAS BEEN HANDLED, THE WAY IT HAS AFFECTED OTHERS, AND THE ATTENDING POLITICS.

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I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AWARE THAT IN MY EFFORTS TO SIMPLIFY PAINTINGS BY REMOVING THE “NOISE” SOMETHING ELSE WAS GOING ON.

IF THE ABSENCE OF LIFE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE TO MY APPROACH TO PAINTING, DEATH IS NOW REVEALING ITSELF AS A VERY INTENTIONAL THEME.

DEATH IS REAL. IT IS ALL OVER THE NEWS – IT IS IN THE AIR – AND IT IS NOW UNDENIABLY PART OF MY PERSONAL SYMBOLISM.

Toward the Light - Oil on Plywood, 30” x 15”

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IN THE PARK NEAR MY HOUSE, I NOTICE MYSELF LINGERING IN FRONT OF AN AMERICAN FLAG. FLAGS ARE EVERYWHERE IN THE CITY, AND I LIKE TO INCLUDE THEM IN CITYSCAPES.

BUT NOW THE FLAG IS MAKING ME FEEL ANXIOUS, AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER I AM THINKING ABOUT WHAT THE FLAG IS MEANT TO SYMBOLIZE.

Lost - Oil on Plywood, 20” x 12”, 2020

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UP UNTIL NOW, I HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED ANYTHING ABOUT MY WORK TO BE POLITICAL. BUT I AM FEELING MY MOTHER’S ANGER. IT IS ALL MIXED UP WITH THE TRAGEDY AND HORRORS OF THE HOLOCAUST, AND WHAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR COUNTRY NOW.

AND MAYBE FOR THE FIRST TIME I JOIN MY MOTHER IN MOURNING. AND I AM PAINTING THE FLAG AT HALF-MAST.

Half Mast - Oil on Plywood, 12” x 6”, 2020

Adam’s Apple - Oil on Plywood, 18” x 8”, 2020

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karen perl

you can see more of karen's work by visiting:

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Created By
Lilach Schrag
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Credits:

All images are courtesy of the artist.