Artists on Coping: Barbara Lubliner

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

Barbara Lubliner, "Two Zips" 2019, paper relief with staples and zipper, 12 x 16 inches, photo courtesy of Paul Takeuchi

Two Zips, 2019, paper relief with staples, zipper, 12 x 16 inches. Photograph by Paul Takeuchi

New York artist Barbara Lubliner transforms traditional and nontraditional materials into thought-provoking expressions that are both iconic and quirky. She moves fluidly from performance art to works on paper to sculpture, both large and small. Solo exhibitions include Gibson Gallery Museum at SUNY Potsdam; Carter Burden Gallery, NYC; Drawing Rooms, Jersey City, NJ; and Pierro Gallery, South Orange, NJ. Recent group exhibitions include City Reliquary Museum, NYC; Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY; Edison Price Lighting Gallery, L.I.C., NY; and Ceres Gallery, NYC. Performance venues include the Brooklyn Museum and the Après Avant Garde Festival on the Staten Island Ferry.

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Lubliner studio wall with vulva Flower Lips paper reliefs with pop rivets, zippers, thread

AS: How are you coping?

BL: I’m still in shock. When the stay at home directives started to get serious, I had just gotten back from Fluxfest California, a gathering of Fluxus minded artists, which surprisingly went on without a hitch. How could the world change so fast? I had just been an Art Nurse doing guerrilla performances at the Getty! Within days all our performance venues closed. Back in New York, I stocked up on food and installed Zoom. My studio is in my apartment and my work in progress is all set up. My husband works at home too, so much of my life is not radically different.

Barbara Lubliner, "Full Bloom" 2019, paper relief with fabric, nuts and bolts, zipper, 16 x 12 inches, photo courtesy of Paul Takeuchi

Full Bloom, 2019, paper relief with fabric, nuts and bolts, zipper, 16 x 12 inches. Photograph by Paul Takeuchi

AS: Has your routine changed?

BL: My pattern hasn’t changed, but the details are evolving. No more picking up something for dinner each day as I’m out and about. I have always had a flexible routine geared towards what I’m working on, deadlines, and the demands of daily living. My art is very varied, so having my studio at home allows me to work on whatever needs doing at all different times. Currently, I’m working on “flower lips” paper reliefs and a year-long daily practice project. As the new reality unfolds, structuring my time is a work in progress.

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Bitter Pill, 2019, paper relief with fabric, button, 12 x 16 inches. Photograph by Paul Takeuchi

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

BL: I feel horrified and fortunate. I am distressed about the shape of the world and all the people who are devastated by the pandemic. At the same time, I’m healthy and comfortable, hunkered down with a great companion, my husband. I do miss being with my grandchildren whom I used to see weekly.

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See Say, 2019, paper relief with nuts and bolts, zipper, 12 x 16 inches. Photograph by Paul Takeuchi

AS: What matters most right now?

BL: Right now, it feels important to do what you can to stay healthy in body and spirit, to be kind and compassionate. Come November we need to vote in good leaders who really have the country’s best interests at heart.

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Two mouth Flower Lips paper reliefs in progress

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

BL: We are just at the beginning of the crisis. As it goes on, there will be an opportunity for creativity and new thought. I remember the feeling of connection that permeated New York City after 9/11. My hope is that this tragedy inspires humanity and compassion as well. I want to do my part to advance loving kindness.

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.