As an artist, what do you do when a pandemic turns the world upside down and the constraints of caregiving make time alone in your studio utterly impossible? Do those additional responsibilities intensify your need for a creative outlet? How do you keep the demands of caregiving from stymieing creativity?
From March 9 through May 7, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is presenting Suzanne Schireson: Aftercare, a series of paintings that Schireson, an artist and professor who lives and works in Rhode Island, created from 2020 to 2023 to maximize her “studio time.”
“With a generosity of spirit and an intensity of color, she invents glowing, nocturnal, makeshift fantasy studios for herself and her circle of caregiving artist friends,” said Jenine Culligan, director of the Wilson Museum.
“A dream of solitary space is contradictory in this moment,” Schireson stated. “As a mother in quarantine, I occupied more of my time with those I care for, making flashes of solitude particularly rare and inspiring….I find it is important to share a range of experiences and promote the multitude of ways that caretakers construct their lives.”
Schireson begins each composition with a fluorescent ground built up with saturated neon colors juxtaposed with impasto strokes and bands of tighter shades. The focus is on structures in the rural landscape; some are mere suggestions of a dig site; others are simple constructed sheds or lean-tos. Many incorporate the artists working intensely, feverishly, at a task, whether it is dyeing, weaving, painting, writing, or thinking and smoking.
“These artists are hungry to make art,” Culligan said. “In this nocturnal world, we witness the artists in action as they use short bursts of time and solitude to care for themselves and their art. In this work Schireson not only sustains her need to paint but also visualizes a world where artist friends have the space they need.”
Schireson’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia; Smith College, Northampton, MA; the New Bedford Museum of Art, New Bedford, MA; the Sori Art Center, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea; the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati, Assam, India; and the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris. An associate professor of art and design at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, she holds a B.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.F.A. from Indiana University, and a certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Schireson will present a lecture in conjunction with the opening of her exhibition on Thursday, March 9, at 6 p.m. in Niederer Auditorium, Wetherill Visual Arts Center. A reception will follow in the Wilson Museum. The lecture is also available via Zoom; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the link.
Top image: Suzanne Schireson, Turmeric Dye Night, 2022. Oil on paper. Courtesy of the artist.