Art In Uncertain Times: Rebecca Ness Is Looking Out Into the World
"I've been more alone lately, as my girlfriend is a resident surgeon at Yale New Haven Hospital, and there are COVID-19 patients there already, and supposedly we haven’t even hit the main surge yet," Rebecca Ness, with heavy heart, acknowledges in her report for Art In Uncertain Times series with a heavy heart. "I miss her and I’m worried for her."
We last checked with Ness for an interview for the Winter 2020 issue, while she was happily engrossed in her art residency with Salon Nino Mier Cologne in Cologne. Living with her work in a spacious apartment in the German city was a vigorating, new experience, perfectly timed with a new focus in her art-making. "A lot of my work before was purely from my own internal experiences," she told us at the time, "but now there's a lot more of actually looking out into the world, taking pieces of it, and then crafting the image."
Upon returning to the US, Ness enjoyed a successful NYC debut with 1969 Gallery, ready for an intense period of studio work while preparing a big, upcoming LA debut with Nino Mier Gallery. But, a couple of months into her preparations, as the world around us suddenly evolved into a different place, circumstances, once again, required a temporary move where she lives with her work. Unsurprisingly, this scenario also marked a subconscious shift in her work as she finds, "I’m the lone figure in the paintings I’m currently working on, whereas in my original plans the paintings were more populated. I guess the paintings are social distancing!" We recently checked back with Ness, and she wrote to us about her personal experience amidst Covid-19 in New Haven, Connecticut.
"I haven’t really been setting an alarm; just getting up when I get up. In the past two or three years, starting when I was at Yale, I forced myself to be a morning studio worker. All of that work has since gone out of the window, as I am now naturally getting up at ten or eleven in the morning, and working until about two or three at night.
"I’m in preparations for a solo show at Nino Mier Gallery opening at the end of June, and In order to stay healthy and not need to self-quarantine out of my studio for two weeks in case my partner is exposed, I’m living in an AirBnb for a bit so I can still continue to go to my studio. I’m eating way more processed foods than I normally do. Coffee consumption has gone down, however, which is nice.
"I’m dividing my days into two parts: oil paintings in the studio, and gouache works on paper in the AirBnb. I’ll be showing a lot of gouache works in this upcoming show, which I’m excited about. This AirBnb has turned into a studio, and I sleep in the same room with my work. I haven’t done that since pre-graduate school in my bedroom/painting studio in a tiny Boston apartment. It’s nice, I get to go to bed looking at my work, and then I feel like my brain ponders the work while I’m sleeping, meaning sometimes I wake up with some of my painting problems solved. So I just roll out of bed and paint.
"My studio, the proper oil one, has become a nice form of normalcy while everything around me has changed. I love the reliable studio-couch nap, which has been there for me, no matter the pandemic status. I’m still working on the same paintings I was before the pandemic, but I’ve noticed some changes as the paintings are developed. The paintings are also turning more escapist; I’m turning what was originally a painting of a thrift store, instead into a scene of an “ideal bunker” for riding out this weird time. I’m excited about that painting, because, in reality, I’m definitely not in an ideal bunker right now. "
Text compiled by Sasha Bogojev