Art In Uncertain Times: New York Academy of Art Transforms Their Tribeca Ball Into Virtual Experiences
Every year, the New York Academy of Art opens their studios for the special Tribeca Ball, giving a chance for friends of the Academy and patrons to preview works from rising stars of the school and get to see the studios where the works are being made. Its a chance for the artists to not only show their works, but engage in sales and meet many people in the NY art world. As we obviously have been covering throughout our Art In Uncertain Times series, everyone is making adjustments to previously planned events, the New York Academy of Art being no different. In evolving the Tribeca Ball, the Academy has created "virtual studio tours," the Tribeca Ball online, "a digital extravaganza of new artists to follow and new work to collect."
As the New York Academy of Art are updating the site every week with new works, we teamed with them on highlighting a few of the artists and their experiences through this incredible moment in history. We asked them about how they were adapting to their new home studio set-ups, and the works they submitted for this year's Tribeca Ball. Here are some of the students' stories, in their own words.
LYDIA BAKER, MFA 2020
I share a converted living room studio space with my roommates. Before quarantine, I operated under the belief that I had to be alone to create. I’ve learned throughout this process that artists are highly adaptable creatures and sometimes a simple pair of headphones is all we need. I’ve been working on detailed trace monotypes, drawings and prints, which have provided an answer to my anxiety. These past few weeks, I’ve let go of my ego and leaned into my psychological state.
In regards to Tribeca Ball, our annual celebration, nothing can compare with seeing highly personal, “visual research” in the studios. For the artist, it is so exciting and validating to be able to share what we see with others.
PHIL PADWE, MFA 2021
I find myself aware of moments I might have taken for granted. The way shadows loom at dusk, or how sunlight bounces off the floor and walls at midday. Becoming more aware of the lighting in my daily, domestic, New York City life is making this feel a bit like living in an Edward Hopper painting, actually...
I'm adapting well with regards to studio space, but only because a surprise second-apartment fell in my lap. My mother, who lives one building away, happened to be in Mexico in February and decided to stay there, very last minute, until things get 'back to normal' here - so I use her apartment as a makeshift studio. Having her dining room table (and floor, and walls) to do the collage work is ideal. Otherwise I'd only be doing small drawings, in silverpoint, of my wife and cats.
I'm a drawing major at the Academy and have been creating, and drawing on, strange grounds since starting at school. Using sewing patterns and toned paper as collage elements, and then drawing on top of those in pen, chalk, charcoal, crayon, graphite, pastel, inks and with assorted paints and inks. I submitted a self portrait containing a very conspicuous skull and my drawing hand; self portraiture is almost always a meditation on death or impermanence and mine's no different. I also included the very first image in this sewing-pattern series, which is a head study of a model in profile; and another large drawing of a baby mounted on board. That's the first in an adoption series.
AUGUSTO FANJUL, MFA 2020
Once the crisis started my life changed in so many levels and so did my art, physically and conceptually. I am lucky to have a small space in my studio apartment so I organized it to make it functional as a painting studio, the hardest part was the several subway rides I did in order to have everything I needed back at home from the school studio.
The pieces I submitted to Tribeca Ball are a reaction of women’s stories, who are close to me, and their life experiences. I have great memories at Tribeca Ball, it is a great time to show others what you’ve been working on so hard and share with them your stories and ideas. Truly a beautiful experience with people that love and support art and what you do.
JOHANNA RYAN, MFA 2020
Adapting to new home studio: I’ve had a new studio every year for the past three years, but moving to working at home during this pandemic was a whole different experience. The situation in New York City changed so quickly, it was a frenzy to grab what I could from my studio space at school and at the same time my husband also started working at home. We’ve made it work and it’s also been great to still stay connected with my friends, classmates, and art community online.
For the Tribeca Ball online exhibition, I submitted monotypes and cyanotypes (one of the first photographic processes ever created). Tribeca Ball and Open Studios were always such amazing events to get to showcase your work. It was just cool to be able to hang all your favorite pieces together and share it with people who love art too. I am so grateful to still have a chance to show my work (even if it is online) and I know I will really appreciate these events even more in the future.
MAUD MADSEN, MFA 2020
Between cabin fever, an uncertain future, and the new space constraints that working in my bedroom have created, this transition to isolation has been fairly difficult. However, the excuse to work small, privately, and in acrylic has already yielded some exciting progress in my own practice. The content of my work has shifted to memories of structures and environments I built as a child to control or escape to, like blanket forts and sand castles.
I have three works in the Tribeca Ball online exhibition so far, including my first blanket fort painting. I’m very grateful for the chance to show pieces from my thesis work, but I will definitely miss the excuse to dress up and celebrate with all of my peers. One of my fondest memories from last year was when we went out to dinner at our favourite Thai spot after the Ball; the staff thought we looked just like movie stars, so all of the cooks and waitresses came out of the back of the restaurant to take a group photo with us.
CARL-EDOUARD KEITA, MFA 2021
With everything going on and the school closing, i was only able to grab some if my stuff. Luckily, we have an extra room in our apartment that I transformed as a studio. I tried to make it as efficient as possible and be able to work on multiple pieces at the same time.
The pieces I have submitted are strong and are the result of my experience as a contemporary African man. I'm really happy to have an opportunity like this to showcase my work.
SIOBHAN O’CONNOR, MFA 2020
My home studio space Is much smaller than my academy studio so that does limit the scale of my painting, like I can't just nail into my walls in my apartment; I'd totally destroy them. Mentally the space and what we are all currently going through is extremely tolling. I find it hard to stay motivated and create most days, but I have been more introspective and put my time into staying in touch with the people I care about.
The pieces I submitted to the Tribeca Ball online exhibition talk about relationships, intimacy and sexuality. These pieces are inspired by the people I love and care about the most and it's such challenging time to have to paint without them. Tribeca ball was our night to dress up, celebrate all of the hard work we've done and really get our work out there into the public eye of the artworld.
NATALIE TERENZINI, MFA 2020
I am typically an oil painter but I am currently transitioning my entire practice to gouache and other water media in order to work safely and more efficiently in a smaller home space. This situation is one that I can't help but allow to have influence on my work, I think the most recent pieces are very much reflections on isolation, they are voyeuristic windows into my own experience and behaviors that seem magnified under the circumstances.
The pieces in the Tribeca Ball online exhibition are from the body of work I was continuing to work on before the semester was interrupted, the work focuses on tension in both the formal and emotional elements of the paintings and the narrative potential that comes from those dualities.
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