by Jennifer Printz, Miami, United States
Artist-in-residence, March 2020/21
Sometimes things don’t work out, but then again they do. This paradoxical statement beautifully explains how the 2020 L’AiR Arts Drawing Research Residency manifested. It has turned out to be a situation none of the artists selected could have imagined.
In early March, I found myself eagerly planning for my arrival to Paris and was excited to be connected to the other artists by Mila from L’AiR Arts through What’s App group chat a few weeks out from the residency date. What none of us knew then was how COVID-19 would soon spread across Europe and then the United States. Ultimately the pandemic would prevent travel to Paris and demand that many of us shelter in place.
The connections Mila put in place among the residents to help coordinate arrival times and program plans in Paris turned into conversations about how the virus was gaining in number in each of our countries and how that was impacting our lives. As we lamented our not being able to meet in person in Paris in 2020 as planned, we also mentioned the idea of collaborating together.
In Miami, the Bakehouse Arts Complex, where my studio is, had to close, but offered to help facilitate our community presence through online programming. The idea of collaboration mentioned among the L’AiR Arts group inspired me to propose an online conversation among us about our work and drawing practices and the Bakehouse staff agreed. On April 10, I moderated a zoom session with Yen Ha, Nicole Shimonek, Ole Lejbach, Hannah Stahulak, and Grazielle Portella. Each of us shared our work and we saw the similarities of process, and focus, oftentimes meditative, in nature in our work, as well as, our need to continue to draw during an uncertain time.
Having learned so much about these artists in this inspiring conversation, I left with the desire to do something again in a format that allowed for as many artists who wanted to participate to do so regardless of time zone. With some thought and feedback from L’AiR Arts and the Bakehouse team, a virtual residency was proposed to the group. Each artist was to submit a video that shared their studio and working process to be presented on social media. When the videos were submitted, I was deeply touched by the hard work each artist put into creating a presentation that represented who they are, as well as, their art and process. From Akira’s clear descriptions of graphite pencils to Nicole’s engaging performance to Dipali’s vibrator drawings, the videos as a whole present drawing across the globe as a dynamic and adaptive media.
Watch the videos for Drawing Us In - Part II, artist presentations:
In addition to this event, other things are happening among this group. Grazielle, with help from her colleagues at the University of Lisbon, has organized a recurring program titled 5 Minutes of Drawing and several of us have already participated or have signed up for future dates. Many of us have posted the images of the beautifully drawn postcards Yen has sent us in the mail. I am excited and pleased to be a part of this amazing group of artists. We have yet to walk the streets of Paris together to visit galleries and art fairs, but we have already met the intercultural exchange goals of L’AiR Arts as we have connected and learned from each other. We have exchanged ideas and drawings, and we are just beginning. What has worked out is the reality that when we do arrive in Paris next spring, we will arrive as collaborateurs, as fellows, and most importantly, as friends.
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Cover Image: L'AiR Arts residents, Multidisciplinary Program, January 2020