1. How are you holding up?
Pretty ok, relatively speaking. I have a home, food to eat, and my family is healthy so I’m ok. Mentally and emotionally, this has been a rollercoaster. Witnessing the virus and its effects worldwide, including the politics of it, and experiencing the unrelenting anxiety that comes with trying to function in a constant state of uncertainty, compounded with the civil unrest has been heavy, to put it mildly. Some days I just feel paralyzed and other days I feel a little hopeful.
Fortunately, my studio is in my house and I’m used to working from home, so I was already set up for quarantine. Navigating my studio practice with both my husband working and my son learning from home at the beginning, well, that was new and required some adjusting. Though I think a fundamental condition of being a mother is one of constant disruption, so somehow turning that into a creative asset is always something I strive for. Leaning into the super productive stretches of time and working hours into the night when everyone is asleep while accepting that there are also periods when teaching statistics to a scowling preteen take precedence and that some days have to end with me doom-scrolling on the couch instead of painting and being ok with all of this has helped. Yoga has helped. Crying in the bathroom helps sometimes too.
2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?
Yes and no. I didn’t drastically change the trajectory or content of my current body of work in response to the pandemic, but since the start of it all (and by it all I’m including this whole period of time with the protests against racial injustice and police brutality), my thoughts and feelings have been so scattered and It’s been hard to focus them. I live in Philadelphia and when we first went into lockdown back in March, I already had so many drawings and paintings in progress and I focused on working on those. This took a lot of the initial thinking part out of the process, so I decided to trust my pre-coronavirus era self and my plans and to just go for it. I work in layers using oil paint and pastel, often bouncing around from piece to piece while things dry and settle, sometimes not returning to a painting or drawing for months or even ever. Over the past months, my goal had been to really finish these (some of which I started over a year ago), and to not start anything new (which I have a habit of doing). While the world felt like it was spinning out of control, I guess I created structure and parameters inside my studio, in my tiny world, and forced myself to complete art each week. As a result of this quarantine, I have a whole new, finished collection of work prepared for my solo show next month at Paradigm Gallery + Studio. I do think I’m going to have to let some of what I suppressed out in future works though, I’m just not ready to do that yet.
3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?
I’m not sure. It’s going to take me some time to process it all and then I’ll see what makes sense to hang on to, going forward.
4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?
My friend Erica Harney who, when laid off from her demanding “day job” schedule as a professor and scenic artist, has essentially turned this time into what she’s deemed her Quarantine Artist Residency and I’ve watched her create new work and reconnect with her own practice in such a beautiful way.
Lauren Rinaldi (b. 1983, Brooklyn, NY) is an American artist living and working in Philadelphia, PA. She studied painting and drawing at Tyler School of Art, where she earned her BFA in 2006. Since then, her solo shows have included Still Standing (2018); Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters (2015); At Arm’s Length (2014); and An Accidental Masterpiece (2011), all at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia and she has exhibited her work extensively in group shows throughout Philadelphia and the US. Her upcoming solo exhibition, Representative, opens August 28th, 2020 at Paradigm Gallery + Studio. In addition to her active studio practice, Lauren is a mother and a yoga teacher.