Artists on Coping: Patricia Fabricant

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

Patricia Fabricant, Alexi Rutsch Brock, Beth Dary at the opening for Among Friends, May 2019

Patricia Fabricant is a painter and book designer, from New York City. She received her BA from Wesleyan University and studied painting in Italy. Her abstract paintings have been exhibited widely at such galleries as SFA projects, M David & Co, Front Room, Morgan Lehman, the Painting Center and the National Arts Club. More recently she has worked figuratively, both on a political series, Paper Dolls, and on woven self-portraits, which she began in response to the 2016 election and its aftermath. She is also curating shows. She lives in Brooklyn and shares a studio at the EFA, in Manhattan.

AS: How are you coping?

PF: I am finding that the more I live in the moment, the less anxious I feel. Day-to-day the rhythms of working at home, cooking, talking on the phone, watching shows, reading, all feel very normal. But when I step back and try to see where this might be headed, I start to spiral. I’m also finding that if I ration my news intake, I’m a lot calmer.

I am very grateful to have a full-time job right now, both for the income and for the structure it gives my days. I am also trying to stay in touch with friends and family virtually — through zoom, the phone, social media. I am so very very glad to have the internet during this, otherwise the isolation might have been too much to bear. I have also been trying to get outside and go for walks, sometimes with friends, although I’m now uncertain as to whether that is something I should be doing. I also just started doing Zoom yoga.

I feel like cooking has become my primary creative outlet at the moment, as I settle into this new life for however long it goes on. I just started making art at home, something I’ve never found easy, but art has helped me through difficult times in the past, and I am hoping that will kick in here too.

Three from the Venn Diagrams series from 2017, which were an exploration of mixed emotions

AS: Has your routine changed?

PF: Not too long ago, I might have said “not much”. But I had gotten in the habit of going to my day job and now am back at my home computer. The biggest change is the loss of my studio. I am working hard to find the time and headspace for it. I liked having a dedicated space for art without all the distractions of home. The kitchen is my new home studio because it has the best light and it’s easier to manage the cats. I’m working small, so that’s OK for now. But I miss my studio space, my studio mate.

Like most artists, I don’t mind spending time alone. However, I am used to being able to get out, see art, go to openings, have dinner with friends, all the things I can’t do right now. There is no shortage of stimulation in my own home, from books to Netflix, to projects I had postponed (website update for one), but I miss people. Zoom is helping but it’s not the same.

Studio wall, March 15, 2020, the last studio day before quarantine. A selection of these works was to be in a show at SFA Projects opening 4/1/2020 and now postponed

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

PF: I have rewritten this answer a few times because my emotions are changing all the time. I’m kind of in acceptance mode right now, taking it one day at a time, drawing comfort where I can. Last week I was freaking out. I’m not really afraid of getting sick. I’m afraid of going quietly crazy in my apartment. I’m an extrovert who also enjoys time alone. This is a LOT of time alone. Someone I know took his own life just recently and that weighed heavily on me. His suicide note read “how do you enjoy life?”. I’m trying to remind myself how lucky I am that I’m (so far) healthy, financially stable, not trying to manage small children with nothing to do, it could be so much more difficult. I can ride this out but I hope it doesn’t go on too long.

Self portraits from late 2016, created in response to the 2016 election, depicting the range of emotions felt every day

Julia, Evie, Chris. Three very special people. 2017

AS: What matters most right now?

PF: Family and friends. Staying connected. Kindness. Art comes after that somewhere.

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

PF: I think we will awaken, whenever this is finally over, to a vastly different landscape on nearly every level. I expect that for a time we will be kinder to each other, the way we were after 9/11. In the short term I imagine we will really appreciate human contact. In the longer term I would love to see us rethink the path we have been on. This crisis has shown the flaws in our healthcare system. We need to address that. We need to take care of our planet, of the less fortunate. This crisis has magnified the stratification of society. I’d like to see the drive towards consumerism slowed down for a bit while we rebuild. I hope we will be more mindful.

I don’t know what the art world will look like a few months from now, or whenever we begin to return to a semblance of normality (whatever normal is!). The longer this goes on, the more I worry about galleries, especially the smaller alternative ones, not being able to survive. I worry about some of my artist friends who don’t have any kind of safety net. It has been interesting to see the resilience of the art world — online shows, virtual gallery tours. We will manage to find a way. It will be different. I would like to see the city make an effort to support the rebuilding of the art world. I’m not optimistic about that. I’m hopeful artists will come together to support each other and provide opportunities. I have enjoyed the collaborative and inclusive nature of curating and have a few projects in the pipeline. Fingers crossed they will happen, when things can open back up.

And we will think twice about wasting food or toilet paper, that’s for sure.

Patricia Fabricant, in happier days, in her studio at the Elizabeth Foundation. Photo: Paul Quinn

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: