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The New Open Studio

Manju Shandler (photo courtesy of the artist)
Don Reynolds (photo source: facebook.com/donreynoldsceramics)

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual studio tours and livestreamed demonstrations have become a popular new trend. It’s the “new” open studio. Before COVID-19, visiting an open studio meant physically going to an artist’s workspace and discovering art in its natural habitat. However, with quarantines and social distancing, studio visits are unlikely to happen too often these days. Luckily, artists have found new digital ways of inviting guests into their space and demonstrating their artistic processes. 

Even with lockdown in place, arts lovers got to peek into artist Derrick Adams’ studio via Zoom and watch as he demonstrated the process behind the works in his Buoyant exhibition, which is currently on view at Hudson River Museum. When RiverArts’ annual Studio Tour was canceled due to COVID-19, the Rivertowns artists who would have shown at the event were able to share their works with audiences at home when they were showcased on the organization’s social media channels.

Mixed-media artist Manju Shandler creates works that address current events through a mythological lens. The artist states that the flexibility of online platforms has allowed her to share her work in a fun, informal way to large groups of supporters and new audiences. On August 20, she will livestream a virtual studio tour and demonstration as part of Pelham Art Center’s ongoing “Virtual Studio Tours” series. Shandler will also discuss her Persistent Mothers installation, which features 30-inch figurative sculptures that comment on her role as a woman and a mother in society. The installation will be exhibited in the Center’s upcoming Domestic Brutes exhibition, on view September 12-November 7. It’s all possible with the help of Zoom. Shandler explains, “I had never heard of Zoom a few months ago and now it has become a necessary part of all of our lives.”

On August 13, ceramist Don Reynolds, a Clay Art Center (CAC) instructor, will demonstrate how to decorate bone dry ceramic wares with underglaze and wax. Attendees of this CAC Zoom event will observe how Reynolds animates surfaces with textures that are inspired by African fabrics, Japanese fashion and more. The artist will also show various stages of progress in order to demonstrate each step for his “visitors.” Reynolds is one of several notable ceramic artists that CAC has collaborated with for artist talks and demonstrations throughout the pandemic.

A version of this article first appeared in the August issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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