Writing

Where is Daisy?

Where is Eric? So many come and go. Fast friends lost.

Where is Ruanda? I asked that a few years back. Has anyone heard from Ruanda?

“Oh, honey, she died.”

We were supposed to go to the aquarium together. She had invited me, with a big smile on her face. We had become friends just weeks before. I first met her when she visited the Path with Art choir one day.

At the big gala opening of the awesome new art space, which was attended by many and a lot of fun, by the way, I had a similar conversation.

“We should get her involved again. We should do something with her.” I was talking about a teaching artist that another teaching artist had mentioned.

“She died last year.”

Again with this!? I never seem to get the memos.

I easily lose track of time. I do not know why. It is a strange part of my makeup. I shutter myself away in my own little world.

She was a force. I could tell when first meeting her. I have read more about her life, including her work as an artist and a mother. She was definitely a force. I am sad that future collaborations are no longer possible, at least on this earthly realm.

I have a dream that a circle of us students, or participant artists as they now call us, come together to write cards to those who go missing for whatever reasons — moving, working, living. I want to keep in touch with those of my friends who go missing from our community.

By the way, where is Michael?

Writing

Thoughts on returning to the studio classroom…

Painting using oils and pastels on paper titled
Acceptance with Titian Diana and Acteon ○ oil and pastel on paper ○ 23.5”x22.5” ○ Pamm Hanson ○ 2021

by Teaching Artist Pamm Hanson

COVID-19 forced me to step up to a steep learning curve to learn to teach on Zoom! I tried to keep my attitude strong and I leaned into the generous support from PwA staff and the patience and support from the class participants. Whew!

Then we began to feel some of the benefits of being together virtually – ease of access; a sense of community without risks and demands navigating in-person group dynamics. I was surprised how close I felt to the group. But oh my how I missed walking about a working studio classroom! Oh how I love the hum of artists working together, alone with each work but all together holding the space safe and possible. How we need this as artists. There is so much risk involved in making marks, putting paint on canvas. No one can do it for me, so I really need the support of artistic community, from other artists who understand.

There is nothing safe about making art, so our spaces where we make art must feel safe. I was awed by how much of this connection we could muster through Zoom! But I also know just how deeply we can hold it by simply sitting and working quietly together.

Yet the pandemic has changed us and the threat lingers and changes. I am signed up to teach a painting class in Q4 – in-person. I feel the pull of participating artists I might miss because the class is in-person. Oh I hate to miss them! And, of course, the nagging question if I will have to wear a mask! (I am so sick of masks!!). I have my fingers crossed and I am glad I am a painter so studio classroom is BIG, AIRY and puts less pressure on a decision about a more challenging physical space.

As artists we have a responsibility toward ourselves and toward each other. So how do we act responsibly making our decisions about when to gather and when to stay separate?

I have decided my primary responsibility is to my art practice. What furthers me? What are my parameters for a feeling of creative freedom and positive health care? I do not want to be in a position that puts pressure on my feeling of health risk. I need to trust the people sitting with me. I need to be clear about the physical space around that I need, whatever that is. I need to make informed choices, and I need to own my own choices without apology.

I wish I had some magic wand to make my studio classroom magically safe from physical and psychological harm! I fiercely do my best, but I cannot give guarantees. And, I need help from the participants working with me, to let me know what they need, to engage in creative problem-solving to get as close as possible to what each individual artist needs. And, I can hope to foster a feeling in the studio that allows for repair and healing if and when something happens to raise anxiety.

So I am leaning into returning to the studio classroom! Awkwardly but surely! And, I need everyone joining me in that studio to join with a generous spirit of working together to find our way through these new and unfamiliar times. It is not a time to take things personally, to go to distrust before trust. How radical to assume we all want the best for each other in the studio so each artist can take radical risks in their work! As Flaubert said: “Be regular and orderly in your life, like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” Let us be careful and kind in our gathering so we can take the risks necessary to finish that painting!!

You may contact Pamm Hanson via pammh@pathwithart.org.