Last summer I was the recipient of a six month studio residency through the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation. I left my modest garage-studio behind my house, where I have been making paintings, drawings, prints and some sculpture over the last ten years, for a large high-ceilinged space at Lincoln Street Center in Rockland. Shifting spaces has been transformative for me.
Mostly I responded to the scale of my new space by following the impulse to work larger. I painted and collaged a series of wall-sized paper pieces that I made on the floor. I had a backlog of painting ideas that I wanted to get out of my head as a way to loosen up my other work. I found it liberating to work on a temporary, unfussy surface that I could reshape on an impulse. Not only did I find relief to my restlessness by turning my back on the loaded history of painting on stretched canvas but I also found a sense of possibility in the physical building itself. The new studio suited me in ways that I could not have predicted and so I have stayed on as tenant.
I am back to working on canvas but it is unstretched and I am still using the floor as my work surface. I’m using the same collage approach as I used with the paper pieces but the materials have slowed the mark-making down. There’s a body-intelligence in making work with the whole physical being — walking around and across the painting or on hands and knees. I trust it.
I talk a big game about being open to change in my studio but notice that I always have some hesitation or resistance to it when the crucial moment arrives. I’m interested in that conflicted moment and what it is telling me. A studio friend refers to it as threshold anxiety.
Very recently I’ve been working on small stretched oil paintings in my old studio again. I feel the same but completely different, like a tourist who has traveled and then come home. The residency and the changes it encouraged remind me to find the place where I stay both flexible and focused in the presence of my work while allowing myself to do all those underrated non-quantifiable studio acts: eat all the snacks, stare at the wall, read, and miss people.
—Meghan Brady, May 2018