Artists on Coping: Margot Spindelman

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

Untitled, 2020 oil and gouache on paper

Margot Spindelman is a painter living in Brooklyn, New York, whose most recent work is an intimate exploration of disorder, rupture, security and loss, expressed in the language of collage, as painted pieces are torn, drawn, reassembled. She has had solo shows in New York at both the Perlow Gallery and Platform Gallery. Her work has been shown in many group shows in New York and elsewhere. Spindelman is a recipient of both a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting (2004) and a George Sugarman Foundation Grant (2007). She received her Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, and her Masters of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work is featured on line by Gibson Contemporary.

AS: How are you coping?

MS: When I first started to fill this out, weeks ago, which feels like years ago, online activism seemed to overtake my studio self. A lot of work trying to stop the National Grid North Brooklyn pipeline. Somehow I think, unconsciously, that doing this work as soon as the virtual pivot happened had been almost a form of denial… It took some weeks for me to relax out of life paralysis, turn away from 24/7 at the computer, and back to the tactility of the studio.

Untitled, 2019 oil and gouache on paper

AS: Has your routine changed?

MS: Completely. My day, previously, always began with hours in the studio. Now, we walk to the 24 hour vegetable stand a little before sunrise. I chat with the night guy, a lovely student from Nepal (Where in Nepal are you from? Katmandu, Capital City. Smiles.) We get home, wash the produce, have some coffee, and then the studio. But the day has started with sky and light.

Untitled, 2020 oil and gouache on paper

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

MS: I am mostly completely freaked out by everything that will crumble, and the tremendous amount of suffering that is sure in this. People, businesses, economically ruined. And the Them trying to take full advantage (Naomi Klein, Shock Doctrine). But, there are fissures in the systems of oppression that are clearly forming. This is also a chance to fight for all of those aspirational ideas for a world in climate emergency: A just, equitable, sustainable future. In the studio, having had the idea of calamity squarely in the center of all the drawings and paintings for years, now that calamity is here, I find myself looking to make quietude in the work. A surprising shift, and hard to find.

I have been working collaboratively too— on the brilliant USPS art project conceived by Christina Massey, in which an artist begins a piece and mails it to another artist to complete. I have found that anticipating my partner’s impulses by leaving room for him/her in my beginning, and honoring their work in my completion, has been nourishing. So far I collaborated with 2 artists. This deep communication in the middle of isolation has been a gift.

Unnamed Calamity, ballpoint pen, turpentine on gessoed paper. 2013

AS: What matters most right now?

MS: Love. Absolutely everything flows from that.

Untitled, 2020 oil and gouache on paper

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

MS: In a lot of ways, I am trying not to think ahead. I’m lucky enough to have that luxury as a Union retiree (this will be a very important time for the Labor Movement). Trying to handle each day with awareness. Fewer presumptions. Work. Love (see above).


This was written weeks into the pandemic, and weeks before the murder of George Floyd. The incredible uprising, led by brave and brilliant young people of color has changed everything, will change everything, and is teaching me every day. My answer above: “Love,” has changed to “Love and Rage.” And real hope for the time ahead.

Untitled, 2020 oil and gouache on paper

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: