Artists on Coping: Liz Sweibel

During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping

Untitled, 2020, thread and vellum, 8×8 in

Liz Sweibel’s work is an exploration of liminal spaces, points of contact, and unseen forces:  wind, history, values, math, gravity, emotion, memory. Her drawings, sculpture, and installations are spare and abstract, using specific yet ordinary materials and gestures. She often salvages materials, sources, and forms from her older work and uses them to make sense and establish identity in the present. Her studio process is low-tech, immediate, and improvisational.

AS: How are you coping?

LS: My studio is in my apartment, so my access hasn’t changed. I walk through it to get to the coffee pot. But everything else has changed. I’m teaching remotely, and finding it hard to set boundaries between time for my students and time for my own work. It can be easier to fulfill my commitments to them than to myself. Actually, it is easier. After almost three weeks, I’m still trying to locate a state of mind that will support me and my work through this time, however long it lasts. What hasn’t changed is that the hardest part, for me, is simply to start: to command the time and space. Once I’m working, I settle in.

Untitled (All Fall Down 3), thread and vellum, 8 x 11 in

AS: Has your routine changed?

LS: Yes and no. I’m not one to follow much of a routine, except to be in a classroom on time. My “routine” is closer to how I make my work: improvisational, spontaneous, intuitive. That hasn’t changed. But it has gotten more difficult to be in my studio and work. I would say my ability to focus has changed, and that has disrupted my non-routine.

AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?

LS: I’m experiencing waves of grief, disbelief, and determination, in no particular order. My approach is to not look too far ahead but to stay short-term. The goal is to keep my feelings of being overwhelmed, paralyzed, and afraid at bay. But when those feelings come, I let them. I find that’s the only way to move through them, until the next wave.

Untitled (All Fall Down 2), thread and vellum, 8 x 11 in

Untitled (All Fall Down 4), 2019, thread and vellum, 8 x 11 in

AS: What matters most right now?

LS: For me individually, staying connected to my studio and continuing to make work. Using the internet to share work, see work, stay informed, and exchange thoughts and information with other artists. Staying connected to family and friends. Supporting my students. In the bigger landscape, what matters most right now is protecting life in all forms, interrupting hate, and halting corruption.

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

LS: I’m not looking too far ahead. The world is so wildly out of control that looking far into the future is more terrifying than comforting. A shorter-term perspective at least gives me the illusion of a little control.

Untitled (All Fall Down 9), 2019, thread and vellum, 22 x 19 in

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: