Artists On Coping: Katelyn Alain

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


Abyss, 2020, in Alain’s studio

In her work, Katelyn Alain searches for new myths and archetypes that reflect the way we live now. She has been in solo and group shows throughout the United States, including Arcilesi Homberg Fine Art in New York, the Curtis Gallery in New Canaan, CT, the Skotia Gallery in Santa Fe, Thinkspace in Los Angeles, and the Dedee Shattuck Gallery in Westport, MA. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, American Art Collector Magazine, Studio Visit Magazine, and Juxtapoz. She was recently a guest lecturer/visiting artist at Brooklyn College and is represented by Marloe Gallery in Brooklyn.

AS: How are you coping?

KA: I’ve vacillated between stress and anxiety, and a deep appreciation for the slower moments with my family at home. Two days in from the no-school mandate I was pure exhaustion. Shout-out to our undervalued teachers! By the end of the day, I had a sore throat and wondered if I should be saying goodbye to my family (as a higher risk individual) or if this was the most talking I’ve done in months.


Maeve Transcending The Past, 2018

AS: Has your routine changed?

KA: Ordinarily I spend my days in a different kind of isolation at my studio with noise-cancelling headphones accessing subconscious flow-states, and except for mornings and evenings, I can easily go entire days without speaking at all. As of right now I’ve attempted drawings, but I can’t truly access my creative work when my day is peppered with requests to pull apart Legos, oversee learning, serve snacks, meals, and maneuver my son away from my partner’s periodic work calls. We haven’t yet found balance.


Abyss, 2020 (detail)

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

KA: I’ve never been removed from my painting for long without detrimental personal results. The painting I’ve been working on leading into this pandemic perfectly reflects my current anxieties and general feelings about the world. It’s titled “Abyss”. That seems to be the way with my work: a mirror I only recognize after it’s made.


Alain with Time Was Spiralic Over Their Intent, 2019 (detail)

AS: What matters most right now?

KA: The pandemic is a paradigm shift that points us directly at what is most important and of greatest value. Each person must assess their life. It forces us to face all the ways our society is not set up to support our values. It’s my hope that this shift filters out the nonsense and brings us a better version of how to be human on this earth in the long run.


Studies on Alain’s desk during Gowanus Open Studios 2019

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

KA: Right now I have to figure if it’s safe for me to go to and from my studio. I might go back soon, despite the shared bathrooms and long, claustrophobic hallways. I fled at the end of last week with a gut feeling that advised me to go home and bring all necessities. I forgot to take my orchid that’s about to bloom. I’d rather not go back right now. I may find a new rhythm where I can create more in the evenings, but for now the exhaustion from stress and anxiety for loved ones is its own forced time off. I count myself lucky that we have enough food, a not-unpleasant apartment, and positive relationships where we can enjoy each other’s company and also navigate this strange new time while working to communicate the support we need as the days add up.

Here’s to every soul navigating the deep! Wishing you all calm, true rest, and of course, perfect health.


Alain’s door during Gowanus Open Studios 2019
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.