Artists on Coping: Barbara Laube

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

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Works in progress on the good studio wall

To Barbara Laube the act of painting is spiritual, shamanistic, healing, and transformative. Truth is found through process and the materiality of paint. Rooted in the history of abstraction, her subject matter may not be obvious and is always left open to interpretation. It emerges from the endless mark making and adjustments to the painting surface. Imagery is often revealed that reflects her relationship to the outside world and her life, and to her deep love of great painting, particularly the early Renaissance. She exploits the play between the open and dense, and the light and dark. In the end the act of painting and paint itself is first and foremost and has always been her way of making sense of her life, loves and beliefs. Ms. Laube lives and works in Riverdale, New York. She has shown extensively in New York, including M. David & Co., Zurcher Gallery, The Painting Center, Carter Burden Gallery, Bowery Gallery, and Sideshow Gallery. She has also shown at Kent State University in Ohio, and in New Mexico, Illinois, Washington, California, New Jersey, and Texas.

AS: How are you coping?

BL: It is three months in as I am writing this, and ninety days is one of the milestones of healing. We are now facing two viruses, Covid-19 and racism. So much is being brought to light and the challenge is in finding the balance between staying informed and not succumbing to fear. I am concentrating on the things I can change. Painting is a great refuge. I try to eat right but there have been too many comfort food events. I have a great support system of healers and friends.

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My view from the studio/living room

AS: Has your routine changed?

BL: My studio has always been my living space so there was no change in my routine there. The first few weeks of confinement I couldn’t work. I spent a lot of time staring at the painting wall, contemplating the distance between the nail holes where ghosts of paintings were. Then I started working and paintings rushed out of me with a newfound sense of joy and immediacy while the world, at a standstill, sped by.

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Every Breath

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

BL: There are highs and lows with fear, sadness, hope and joy. I ache for my grandchildren who are coming of age in this time. My heart aches for all people of color in particular and for the planet. I’m angry at the government. When working, I am in touch with my higher self that experiences joy and love. I have always been solitary and am used to being alone, although my cat Bob is a lifesaver in the affection department.

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Bricks into Veils

AS: What matters most right now?

BL Right now what matters most to me is the health and safety of myself, family and loved ones. I’m concerned for my grandchildren who are headed soon for college and for friends who I love dearly. Next I am concerned for the health of the planet and all the people. Right now I am not worried, but it takes diligence and practice to remain conscious and calm.

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The Distance Between 3

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

BL: As far as the road ahead, I think we’re in for some very messy, turbulent, and hopefully transformative times. This quote from Simon Weaving leapt out at me and seems more prescient now than when I first read it: “Images of viruses reveal a monochrome world of grey. Like electrons, atoms and quarks, viruses exist in a realm where color has no meaning.”

May we have the courage to shine the light on all that needs healing in us and the world.

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Abstract Angel
Catherine Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer based in New York. She wrote the introductions to Meryl Meisler’s two books, and is currently working on an oral history about recent changes in photography.