This happened about three weeks ago.
Let me explain. My studio of late was actually my mother’s studio, which had been mostly vacated because she’d been cooking more than arting in her professional life. I’d basically taken over. But notice how I’m using the past perfect tense here? All this no more. Mom got a convection oven and is using what was the studio as a kitchen…it’s the only place with an electrical outlet gnarly enough to accomodate the new oven (it was intended for a glass-firing kiln).
To be fair, she didn’t mean to oust me – and it’s her space anyway, so if she’d wanted to, she certainly could have with no apologies. But she was full willing to move around all the cooling racks and flour bins to make space for me to actually sit in front of my easel and potentially also have some table domain for drawing.
After avoiding the room for two weeks on account of feeling skittish about the chaos, I started to internally panic. I couldn’t work. I didn’t even want to go in there. I felt like I had lost something dreadfully important to me, like it had been stolen, even though it wasn’t mine to have and it also wasn’t technically gone. Then I realized something.
I need a space to work that belongs to me. Making work is a focused, tender process of caring for an image and an idea as it comes into the world. You have to be completely open to negotiating with what the work wants, and, in my experience, you have to feel really safe to do that. Making is very intimate – an interesting connection to the solution to my studio dilemma.
I turned my bedroom – the safest place I’ve got – into my studio. I gave up my me-and-someone-else sized bed for a just-me sized bed and tucked it into the corner to make space for my easel and drawing table. There’s a little defiant sadness in that choice, as though part of me is trying to convince the rest of me that, “My art is my love and that’s all I need!” But I’m not that naive and I’m not that righteous. And we all fit our someone-else’s into twin-sized beds in college, right? Should I happen upon a someone else in the time that my life and space are arranged as such, at least he’ll know what he’s getting into. When you love this woman, you share her with her work and her working. There is no separation between living and making. It is not always tidy, and it is not always comfortable, but it is honest and it is carried out with care.
And now, to work.