Creative Quarantine: Artist Dawn Brennan

Noir, Eldorado | ©Dawn Brennan

1. How are you holding up?

Really OK. I was never all that outgoing to begin with, so limited socialization hasn’t bothered me. I haven’t lost my day job, so I can still pay my bills. And even better, now that I’m working from home I can pretend to be working at my office job while I work on my art. So far, I and the people I love are healthy, so I’m the luckiest person I know. 


Noir, I Stay Busy | ©Dawn Brennan

Noir, Every Night I Get Drunk | ©Dawn Brennan

2.  Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work.  If so, in what way?

Subjects for my “Noir” drawings have definitely been influenced. The series is already about isolation, but it’s gotten more direct now. On the practical side, some shows I had lined up in Pilsen and Hyde Park have been postponed, but I’ve been exhibiting in some online shows. 


Noir, Step Out | ©Dawn Brennan

Noir, Father | ©Dawn Brennan

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

I’ve been dragged further into the 21st century, having to learn how to teach online. It turns out I really like it and the students do amazing work! I hope to keep doing it post-plague. I’ve discovered that online teaching is not necessarily worse than in-person teaching. Students can go at their own pace without Teachers hanging over them. Also, in terms of the subject matter, I have always seen the value in copying masterworks, and always included it in my teaching, but I’d never before offered a class that was nothing but copying. I was surprised at how much I myself have learned from doing it so intensely; and I’m learning something then the students must be, too. 


Noir, New York University | ©Dawn Brennan

Noir, Chicago Avenue | ©Dawn Brennan

4. Of the artists you follow, who is handling this particularly well?

It seems all the artists I follow are dead, making it pretty easy to follow them. Right now I’m trying to be like Charles Burchfield and Honoré Daumier. All the living artists I might know or admire, well, no idea how they’re taking COVID. I especially admire people who do public outreach and engage in current issues. They make me ashamed of what a cavewoman I am. Not that I’m going to change my behavior, but . . .I guess that sort of outreach must be severely limited right now.


Noir, I Do This A Lot | ©Dawn Brennan

5.  Are there any artists, filmmakers, albums, or genres you’ve been drawn to during the crisis? If so, why?

At one of the very worst crises of my life, I decided to watch Luchino Visconti’s The Damned to cheer myself up; it worked. I feel like these times are Luchino Visconti times, and I’ve been watching every movie of his I can find. I come away from his movies thinking, life is so hard and complicated and tragic, and I love it so much.


Pergamon Frieze Studies, Pergamon #7 | ©Dawn Brennan

Pergamon Frieze Studies, Pergamon #5 | ©Dawn Brennan

I was born and raised in the Midwest. I’m still here… I’m not sure why. I got a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from the University of Chicago Midway Studios. I’ve taught and exhibited art in and around Chicago since 1999.


Dawn Brennan posing with “I Do This A Lot” T-Shirts at Columbia College Chicago Exhibit | Photo Credit: Timothy Bales

Dawn Brennan can be found online at her Website.