Artist Lucia Hierro visited PAFA in February of last year and shared an important message through her stories and her work that I have never forgotten. A message that has inspired me to see things in a different perspective - where we do not give up, we do not compromise, we move on and through.
Lucia Hierro is a Bronx-based artist, who creates “sculptures and work as an analyses of personal narratives. Hierro’s work explores the body as a collection of fragmented signifiers that include language, taste, and culture” that are representative of our place in time. (www.luciahierro.com. Web. 25 Mar. 2020) During her presentation with the Visiting Artist’s Program at PAFA she talked particularly about her shifts between studio spaces and figuring out how to make large-scale work while lacking the ideal space to do so. The series of work titled Mercado started in a space that was not ideal for large work. In the end, she found creative solutions while staying true to her vision. This became the body of work for her first solo exhibition at Elizabeth Dee Gallery in Harlem, New York.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced many artists out of their normal working environments (myself included) and studio spaces putting stress on studio practices and changes to the way that they create work. Prior to studios closing and the stay at home orders, I had started my ASE Thesis Piece (details in previous blog post) - which just so happens to be my biggest work (in progress) to date. Unfortunate timing - maybe; maybe not.
During this time, I'm learning a lot about how to sustain my art practice outside of the school environment. While I wish that we were all able to be in school right now, continuing our program as it normally would go; I'm trying to find ways to grow through this experience - however impossible that may seem. I have no idea what kind of studio space I will have (if any) after I graduate, so I'm taking this as an opportunity to learn how to large work in a small space. I do not plan on compromising. I plan on making it work - and making changes to my process to make it happen.
My wing pattern is approximately 45 feet from tip to tip - this poses a particular challenge in an apartment where our longest wall is maybe 15 feet long. However frustrating it might be, I’m figuring out ways to work with it in the space, one section at a time.
I think it's important for artists to be flexible. And being flexible doesn't mean compromising. Those are two different things. I am not giving up any part of this work that I value - I am only letting its creation be more fluid; more flexible to the situation at hand; which really is what should be happening anyway.
I have faith that artists will find a way, we always have.
Stay in, but keep moving!
Hi there! My name is Ashley Garner (Also known on social media as TheColorG). I'm currently a second year MFA student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA. I am a visual artist working in soft-sculpture, installation, and painting.