Creative Quarantine: Artist Doug Fogelson

Doug Fogelson | Nadir No. 9 | © Doug Fogelson

1. How are you holding up?

Well, I was doing OK navigating the ups and downs of the pandemic but now I am feeling like there may be an actual conflict brewing–at least on the side of the gun-toting far-right rural, militias and white supremacist types. I recently started looking at different media sources, such as TikTok, to see what the “kids” are seeing and it often flips between clips of police using heavy force on protestors and white Trump supporters making threats. I’m livid at the GOP, can we please vote them out?  

Dissolution No 1 | Doug Fogelson

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

At first, I was mainly focused on family resilience and connecting with friends and neighbors to build/reinforce our web, you know–triage for survival. I wasn’t feeling motivated to really use my studio or make a lot of progress on current work during the early part of the sheltering. I was creative in other ways though and utilized online learning. However, I would get really upset about not having enough ‘regular’ work to do and deeply questioned the need to continue certain things… then I’d go for walks, take photos with my cellphone and feel a bit better. Cannabis really helped me through those moments and put me into the headspace of just witnessing as spring unfolded. Really enjoyed the quiet streets and driving less.

Today I am feeling a bit more refreshed about continuing work on my main series. It’s ironic because I need to wear a mask and gloves and use cleaning chemicals as a part of my process. I take film images collected on travels to natural locations and alter them so that they degrade or wash away. It’s an exercise in loss, temporality and wondering when I will feel safe enough to travel again. This period became the time to realize my ultimate goal in the series which is to head into the most abstract space I can with the alterations. It can be challenging to let go of the things pictured in the photographs and see what emerges in the residue.  

Dissolution No 2 | Doug Fogelson

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

The pandemic underscored how little I care about the sales aspect of art. Money and notoriety as a scorecard for success shouldn’t drive this unique endeavor. Staying as free as possible in the practice and finding opportunities to have that connection or engagement with viewers is where the real value lies. 

Dissolution No 3 | Doug Fogelson

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

One artist who is really pushing hard during this time is my buddy Carron Little. She has made new instructional videos teaching art and color theory for kids and adults, done a bunch of virtual performances, been hard at work writing proposals, and organizing the performance festival called Out of Site. She’s inspiring me because she keeps on charging ahead so full of energy and conviction. 

Dissolution No 4 | Doug Fogelson

Doug Fogelson studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago. His works are exhibited with esteemed galleries and museums and included in collections such as The J. Paul Getty Center, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Center for Creative Photography, and Staatliche Museum für Fotografie. He has been recognized by The Brooklyn Rail, Photo District News, and AfterImage among others. Doug Fogelson founded and directed Front Forty Press, an independent publishing imprint, has taught in the Photography Department of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently serves as President of the Board for Filter Photo.

You can keep up with Doug at his website.