Stay at Home (In the Studio) Order

I have noticed these days, these “Stay at Home Order” days here in Oregon, the ease and mental wellness I am experiencing being stuck in the studio. My non-pandemic schedule includes two and half days a week working for the county health department and many hours (bleeding into days) of running around shopping for groceries or second-hand treasures, eating at restaurants, and other non-essential errands. I am diving now into the privilege and comfort of my home and my art studio in a way I’ve not done before. And I’m discovering surprising things about my creative process!

I am fully aware that all my sculptures touch on the theme of interconnection. And I know that art-making clears a path for me to connect with my cultural heritage, other artists, and the Native community here in Portland and beyond. What I’ve not noticed so profoundly before forced isolation is the feeling of travelling, connecting, and returning home that I have when I create.

Like others doing the thing they love, I lose track of myself when I work with ceramic clay to make masks, when I shape and finish plastilene clay on my figure sculptures, when I apply, and reapply until right, pigment to fired masks. This losing track feels a bit like travelling, like dipping out of this time and place into another. And I’m noticing when I reemerge, deep fulfilling moments of connection, of relationship to the subjects of my masks and figures, and to the people who follow and enjoy my sculptures.

My regular opportunities to show art have been impacted by virus-related restrictions. I made the difficult decision today not to invest money in fees and lodging arrangements for my biggest show of the year, the summer Santa Fe Indian Art Market. And my April trip and delivery of art to the Inuit Gallery of Vancouver BC has been postponed--I’ll be shipping some pieces there for exhibit instead. I’m especially grateful today for the ongoing work of Quintana Galleries and Raven Makes Gallery who continue to exhibit my art during this crisis.

Despite these limitations and potential setbacks, my compulsion to be in the studio, to create, to visit some making-realm and come back, is not diminished. My drive to create is vivid. It is purpose enough. Being “isolated” in the studio is bringing me incredible joy and leaving me feeling connected and gratified. What a gift!

Here are snapshots of two ceramic masks I've finished during the Stay at Home Order...

Ptarmigan Person

Owl Person

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