During the coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.
Painter Mary DeVincentis employs a deeply personal iconography to investigate the mysteries and dilemmas of existence. Her most recent body of work, Between the Light and Me, will make its debut at M. David and Co. Gallery in Brooklyn later this year. Her work was recently featured in ArtMaze Magazine, winter 2020 edition. She is represented by M. David and Co. in New York and by Gibbons and Nicholas in Dublin, Ireland.
AS: How are you coping?
MD: The first several weeks of social isolation and adjusting to a radical change in routine were profoundly disorienting. Like my painting below, it felt like all the components of my life were tossed up in the air and in free fall. There were some really hard moments, like realizing I needed to cancel my scheduled solo exhibit which was to open at M. David and Co. on March 20th. I had included a number of guest artists in the show and had envisioned it to be an occasion of celebration of the Brooklyn art community that I so cherish. The work in the exhibit is about the gritty uncertainties, dilemmas and predicaments that we as humans encounter in life, and boy are we all in one hell of a predicament right now. Not having my show happen as planned pales into insignificance in comparison to what we are up against.
AS: Has your routine changed?
MD: It’s been hard to establish a consistent routine. The biggest change is the adjustment to social distancing. As an artist, I am used to solitude and to creating my own structure, but nothing can replace the real time company of family, friends and fellow artists. I am able to do my day job on a remote basis but it is not the same as being in the room with the person I am working with. It’s been a time consuming and steep learning curve to figure out how to manage all the practical aspects of self-care, health safety practices and meeting basic needs without venturing out anywhere. I have felt the need to bear witness and offer what support I can to those who are scared, are sick or are grieving. I do have a home studio, albeit a tiny one, but I haven’t been able to do much painting as of yet. I am very grateful to my gallerist Michael David who has been organizing and facilitating Zoom meetings for small groups of interested artists. This has been a real lifeline. Also, I live across from a park and am finding great solace and reassurance in seeing nature unfolding into spring.
AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?
MD: I am doing my best to be open to the ebb and flow of my emotions, even though there is a part of me that would like to bypass them. As Joni Mitchell wrote: “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” Sorrow, fear and rage give way to feelings of gratitude for and delight in the most ordinary of moments. Then guilt arises in me for daring to feel good while others are suffering in unimaginable ways.
AS: What matters most right now?
MD: I think the imperative task thrust upon us by this worldwide pandemic is for us as individuals and we as global citizens to ask ourselves to consider what is truly important now and going forward, and to be willing to embrace whatever changes are necessary to align ourselves more fully to our deepest purpose and to the greater good (which are usually one and the same).
The Hopi Elders, in their June 8, 2000 prophecy, gave us some questions and suggestions to guide us: “Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relationship? Where is your water? Know your garden. It is time to speak your truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for your leader.”
AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?
MD: Undoubtedly, the road ahead is perilous and full of heartbreak and much suffering. Nothing will ever be the same. At least I hope not. Can we embrace the changes we need to make to make this a more equitable and just world and work together to heal our fractured, degraded and decaying society and environment? I am an optimist at heart, so I won’t rule it out.
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: email@example.com