Along with most of New York and much of the US, mid-March 2020 meant a huge shift in work and daily life. Expectations went out the window while fear and uncertainty ran amok. During this time, I lost my day job and gained an unlimited amount of time to devote to art. It was a complicated way to get exactly what I wanted.
I began painting immediately. There was no shortage of ideas or questions. All I could do was look at statistics and charts that tracked data both in Europe and the US. I checked graphs on the NYTimes website every day, which described “hot zones” in a beige-yellow to red-orange palette that became my own. The warm color scheme also echoes the passage of virus from human body to human body and the socially dependent nature of the disease.
Everyone’s concern at the outset was “flattening the curve”. This phrase became our societal mantra overnight, our generation’s call to arms. Everything was about curves and directing their trajectory. I began tracing a series of curves again and again. The repetition of forms and subtle variation of colors mirrors our never-the-same-but-never-changing days. We find sameness and difference in smaller and smaller details. The edges of the curves expand and become borders of stained glass windows. The work moves from paper to canvas as uncertainty expands and contracts. My mind wanders as I make methodical strokes, turning over questions about how long I can stay afloat, what going forward looks like now. I wonder if summer is canceled, who has died today, who will make it and what will remain.
"Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak," New York Times.
"Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count," New York Times.
Soleri: Architecture as Human Ecology, Antonietta Iolanda Lima, 2000.
John Wesley collection at Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas.
Artwork photographed by Christian Nguyen