Like many artists short on money, when I moved to New York City I moved into an art studio rather than an apartment. The Craigslist ad for the commercial space I found stated, in a phrase I saw again and again, “No Living.” My space was 120 square feet–no shower, no kitchen, no private bathroom. I bathed at the gym, microwaved my dinner, and hid from my landlord. Over time, I adjusted to this way of life. In the beginning, I thought living in my studio would be only temporary, but it went on for years, studio after studio.
I often had a reoccurring anxiety dream of the door being opened while I was in bed, sometimes by my landlord, sometimes by strangers. In these dreams, I would remain asleep in a state of terror while being observed by these intruders. These dreams often occurred in the early morning and I was always relieved to wake up and realize they weren’t real. In “Reoccurring Dream of the Opening Door” the nightmare begins with the light streaming in. I may have been sleeping in my studio, but I lived mostly in my head. To me, New York was still not a real place. My imagination and subconscious all still resided in Oklahoma, the one and only location of all the places and figures in the work I had made up to that point. These are my first paintings set in New York City.
The works included in the collage wall were made over the course of three years. They are quick one-shot paintings made on the cut up remains of failed paintings. They show the cycle of painting, living, sleeping, and dreaming. Many nights, I had insomnia. To the sleep deprived, there is no crueler sensation than the gentle change of light in the early morning. The soft blue light filtering in is the signal that the struggle to sleep has been lost. It’s time to put away my bedding, start the day anyway, and hope for better rest when the sun goes down again.
No Living August 5th to September 13th 2020 at Sargent’s Daughters
Two Coats of Paint Interview by Caroline Chandler
Art Slay Interview by Ryan Martin