During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.
Tamar Zinn is a New York based artist whose work reflects the primacy of intuitive sensory experiences. Both painting and drawing are integral to her studio practice. Recent projects include a solo exhibition, At the still point, at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, NYC, a 3-person exhibit, Thinking Sequentially at Key Projects, NYC and curating Explorations in Line at Garrison Art Center. Zinn’s work is in collections throughout the US, including Citibank, Fidelity, IBM, McKinsey, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and NYU-Langone Medical Center.
AS: How are you coping?
TZ: It varies day to day. I feel compelled to stay as informed as possible, but keeping up with reliable information also means that I will ratchet up my fears. Perhaps because we are living in physical isolation from one another, I am now spending far too much time on social media. It is actually more helpful to speak with friends and family. I am also fortunate because my husband and I are navigating this difficult time together.
I do best when I have a routine, so I try to follow an informal schedule that includes meditation, exercise, perhaps a walk outside, and a chunk of time for drawing. Drawing allows me some of the solitude I am accustomed to and helps to anchor my day. As I wrote recently on my blog, although my creative process is filled with stumbling around, uncertainty in the studio is a familiar experience and doesn’t scare me. I feel safe because I know that when I am working, I can only find my way by first getting lost. It is completely unlike the perilous uncertainty that is swirling around us.
AS: Have you had a show or other creative opportunities canceled?
TZ: I am currently scheduled to participate in a 4 person show in California in June, I have a solo show scheduled in NYC in January 2021, and I’ve started the process of curating a group show, also scheduled for January 2021. I have no idea if those exhibits will be postponed or even take place, but I remain hopeful.
AS: Has your routine changed?
TZ: My entire routine has been turned on its head. I’ve lost virtually all the paid work I did to support myself as an artist, and I can no longer go to my studio, which I used to do 4-5 times a week. I had to abruptly abandon work on a series of multi-panel paintings, and I know it may be difficult for me to reengage with that work once I can return to the studio. Fortunately, I set up a small workspace in my apartment so that I can continue to draw. At this time, I’m not focused on making “Drawings” but rather on mark-making as a way to quiet my mind. What is most difficult right now is that I miss the sanctuary of my studio, along with the luxury of entering that space and closing the door on the outside world.
AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about this?
TZ: Emotionally, I’m focused on the health crisis and its social and economic costs. I feel deep sadness because of the countless lives that will be lost; dismay over the enormous and most likely permanent disruption to the lives of millions of people around the world; fear for my own health and that of my family and friends; gratitude for the courage and sacrifice of the medical personnel and support staff at hospitals; and anger at the ineptitude and corruption of the people in government who should have been guiding us through this devastating illness.
AS: What matters most right now?
TZ: The most important thing right now is that we follow the best available advice to stay safe and protect others around us. Nothing is gained by worrying about what the future will look like.
AS: Any thoughts on the road ahead?
TZ: I fervently hope that the trauma of the pandemic and how poorly it was handled by the federal government will lead to systemic changes in our society. The economic devastation that millions of Americans are experiencing has further exposed the inequities in all aspects of American society and the selfishness of American capitalism. Since the effects of this pandemic will be so widespread, I hope that it will lead to more compassion and kindness – and that our society and government will embrace a communitarian ethic.