PAW’s inquiry into how alumni artists how are promoting and practicing their art from home generated a flood of responses. Below are snapshots of the creative lives of many other Princetonians.
Ben Denzer ’15
An artist focusing on the book as an object and a faculty member at The School of Visual Arts in New York, N.Y.
“I'm stuck at home, so I’m trying to use the things I readily have around me. I just made a book titled 1 ROLL (I hope you aren’t running low on toilet paper!) The book is currently an edition of one, as the material is hard to come by these days. My teaching for SVA is all digital, which presents new challenges and opportunities. I’ll be teaching an online class for the Center for Book Arts called ‘Artist Books and The Everyday.’”
Laura Trimble Elbogen ’07
A watercolor painter and illustrator in San Francisco
“I have been working on publishing 10 watercolor-and-ink paintings from my series of the Princeton campus as a free Color-On Coloring Book to distribute to the Princeton community during the coronavirus. It is meant to be a source of joy and stress release and a way to come together through a common activity at a time of social distancing. Folks can print the sheets at home for coloring and post them online to share with friends. I also launched a new house-portraits offering for Realtors as a personalized housewarming thank-you gift for their buyers as they continue to serve clients in purchases and sales as essential workers.”
Hyeseung Marriage-Song ’01
A painter in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“Some artists are making work that directly responds to the crisis or they have changed genres in some way as a consequence of the social-distancing restrictions, but that has not been the case with me. I’m still plugging away at projects I had before all this occurred. Of course, I miss the openings and art talks, but some of my regular evening work, which was about connecting with people, now happens through Zoom or FaceTime. As for the creation of the work itself, in the end, regardless of whatever is happening with the world outside, my own world is in some aspects very small: It’s just me in front of an easel with a brush.”
Megan Wellford Grinder ’95
A painter in Memphis, Tenn.
“I am continuing to paint during this time of quarantine. I paint portraits, landscapes, birds, flowers, etc. Because commissioned portraits are my primary work, I don’t always make the time to explore visual ideas I’ve been kicking around in my head. This period at home (where my studio also is) has given me a little extra time to at least start to get these ideas onto a canvas or paper. I find that if I’m not working on something specific for a client, I can get easily sidetracked or swept into the busyness of life and not make that critical time for more creative expression.”
Alison Beskin ’13
A flutist and lawyer in New York City
“I work at a corporate law firm in Manhattan. However, I continue to play every day and find ways to perform on a volunteer basis. My annual flute recital was scheduled for March 14. As an alternative to canceling the performance, my pianist collaborator and I performed for an audience of one (my husband, Stephen Ham ’12) while he recorded the recital for YouTube live streaming. The full recital is available on YouTube, and I uploaded the program notes to www.alisonbeskin.com.”
Alexander Quetell ’17
A multidisciplinary dance and performance artist in Los Angeles
“I have been taking online classes with notable teachers in the community, such as Spenser Theberge (ballet), Shamel Pitts (Gaga), and Loni Landon (contemporary). There is an abundance of live online classes hosted on Instagram and Zoom, and wonderful platforms such as @dancing.alone.together. Kate Wallich, a mentor and the founder of the all-abilities movement class Dance Church, has moved the class from gatherings of hundreds in cities all around the U.S. to a donation-based online platform. I will be working as an administrative assistant for Dance Church in exchange for a monthly stipend that will, along with unemployment checks and help from family members, help me stay afloat in this unpredictable time. As a Dance Church teacher myself, I can’t wait to get back into the studio with this community.”
Kaitlyn Hay ’10
An elementary school visual art teacher in Washington, D.C.
“Right now, I am paring down my art projects and working on delivering the context and steps in as concise a way as possible as I edit videos of my lessons on iMovie. I love making these videos, as I see video editing as a form of collage with audio and moving images as the media. It’s difficult to tell how the kids are engaging with my material, but several families have sent back photos of the completed projects and we’ll keep on, keeping on! The part that will always be lacking with the approach of asynchronous lessons that my school is using now (in which a video or content is uploaded to a web portal and the student can view it on their own time) are the kid’s reactions, questions, and ideas that keep me on my toes and make teaching this age so fun.”
Alexis Rodda ’10
An opera singer and a private voice and piano teacher in East Haven, Conn.
“This past year, I was on a Fulbright Award to Austria, where I was researching exiled Jewish composer Egon Lustgarten. I am really lucky that my students have been willing to switch to online lessons. I teach from my piano, and I switch camera angles to go from my face to a position from which I can demonstrate technique at the piano. In a way, I feel as though it’s pushed my students to be even more self-reliant and explore difficult music concepts on their own, instead of relying on me for an immediate solution. I performed a concert with Fulbright Austria on their Instagram Live feed. My colleague and friend, who is a pianist, recorded the songs, sent them to me, and I’ll play them on a Bluetooth speaker while I sing. It’s not ideal, but we’re making it work as best we can!”
Kenny Hargrove ’82
A filmmaker and playwright in Los Angeles
“I'm using the time to take advantage of all the great talks and panels and classes that are either moving online or are temporarily free, like those on the Sundance Film Festival’s filmmaking platform, Sundance Co//ab, or learning new skills to make beautiful images. I’m also preparing documents and potential lists of investors whom I want to approach regarding opportunities to help fund my SNOW feature film project, a drama about a woman’s journey towards love and destiny.”
Hilary Lewis ’84
The chief curator and creative director of The Glass House, the former home of architect Philip Johnson in New Canaan, Conn.
“We maintain a nearly 50-acre property containing renowned 20th-century architecture and landscape as well as a substantial collection of 20th-century American art, featuring work by John Chamberlain, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella ’58, and Andy Warhol, among others. We also have an active arts program where we present exhibitions and installations with contemporary artists and designers. Our team is staying busy by creating content and re-launching existing media that can be accessed online. We are actively planning for later months when we may present the various exhibitions, installations, and public programs.”
Lesley Schisgall Currier ’84
The founder and managing director of Marin Shakespeare Company in San Rafael, Calif.
“We’ve been reinventing our company as a remote provider. We added pages to our website for ‘Viewing from Home’ and ‘Learning from Home’ with growing lists of links to online resources. We’re offering free spring break classes by Zoom and preparing for summer camps and intern programs by Zoom. Our Teen Touring Company had to cut short their tour of As You Like It, so we shared the video on our website and with our patrons through email. While we are mourning the temporary loss of live theater, we believe when we are able to gather together again, there will be an increased thirst for the communal enjoyment, learning, discovery, and sharing that happens uniquely through theater.”
Van Wallach ’80
A writer and stand-up performer in Katonah, N.Y.
“The changed circumstances have inspired a fresh look at the possibilities of the medium. Freed from the confines of a stage, I’m experimenting with an on-the-street style of open mics. I’ve written three pieces that I’ll record at local sites, like the Katonah Metro-North station for reflections on not commuting after 22 years, and at the Katonah Library’s closed-up book drop, for a piece on the theme of ‘the last time I did something.’ It’s a new dynamic to do stand-up comedy without an audience.” Visit YouTube.
Mark Schaeffer ’78
Emeritus faculty member and adjunct instructor in the Digital Media Arts department at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif.
“I was challenged by the idea that even though we’re all physically separated, we’re still very much connected. So when this period of social isolation began, I started work on a collaborative art project that I call the Chain of Hands. Through social media posts, I asked people to send me ‘hand selfies’ — photos of one hand in a gripping position, taken by a camera in the other hand. I then use Photoshop to assemble these photos into a chain, with each hand gripping the next. The chain continues to grow as people send more photos. I plan to keep this going for as long as the shelter-in-place order continues. You can see it in progress at roseavenue.com/chain.”
Anna Berghuis ’19
A painter in New York City
“Until quarantine is over, I will be painting portraits via FaceTime. Separated from my usual, much-cherished studio space in New York City, I’m now working in the confines of my childhood bedroom. This has challenged me to be creative in new ways. As a figurative oil painter, my work has always been about the connections and relationships between people. I’m especially interested in what happens when these relationships go digital. Our online world is full of filters. Hyper-curation on the internet can often serve as a digital mask and create an idealized sense of self. I’ve found that FaceTime disrupts that facade. By painting portraits through FaceTime, I aim to explore authentic social-distancing connections and create a body of work that reflects the times.”
Robbin Ami Silverberg ’80
An artist who makes books as works of art and a professor at the Pratt Institute in New York City
“I am fortunate to have access to my studios — both my papermaking studio and book studio — so I can continue to make artwork. I don’t have all the supplies I need, so I’ve had to think up different ways to utilize what I have. I carved stamps from erasers and am hand stamping text using walnut ink. I’ve had Zoom sessions with many of my students who have no or few supplies. I try to help them figure out other ways to continue to make their art. One, for example, is trying to make artwork with dryer lint and Play-Doh, as that is all they have where they are sheltering. Another found soap in her apartment, so she is carving them to use for printing.” Visit the website.
Olivia Clari Nice ’14
An actress in New York City
“I was scheduled to play Amelie in Amelie at the Public Theater of San Antonio starting in April, but because of the pandemic, the show has been canceled. The theater reached out asking if I would be interested in performing for an online fundraiser, so my roommate Charlotte Morris and I wrote an hourlong comedy cabaret set called ‘Social Distancing 101.’ We livestreamed it from my living room while wearing ballgowns and drinking wine.” Find it on Instagram.
Molly Bolten '14
A musician and audio engineer in Oakland, Calif.
“After the shelter-in-place was mandated in the Bay Area, I started a multimedia web zine. I sent an email to all of my creative friends asking for art of all kinds that they had made under quarantine. We’re two issues in, and we release a new issue every Monday. So far we’ve had music, comics, videos, flash fiction, poetry, photography, and much more to come. It’s been a really positive and beautiful way to foster creativity, experimentation, and, most importantly, community. We’ve had several pieces contributed by Princetonians.” Visit quaranzine.club.
Melinda Wang '99
An art curator in New York City and founder of MW Projects, an art advisory firm
“In early March, I created www.culture-fix.com to provide recommendations of online arts and culture events, with a view to sharing online events to help support creators who have been impacted by arts venue closures. MW Projects will be hosting virtual artist studio visits in May. And Ninth Street Collective, an organization I founded to offer professional development services to artists, is moving our in-person workshops online.”
Lia Romeo ’03
A playwright in Hoboken, N.J.
“I wrote a short play at the end of March to be performed online called Lifestyle Content. It’s a 10-minute comedy about four beauty editors at a lifestyle website, isolated in their homes after an apocalyptic event, trying to figure out what kind of content is appropriate for troubled times. It was inspired by me asking how I should be responding to this kind of moment as an artist. Do I continue pursuing the same kinds of projects I've been pursuing in the past, or do I change my artistic practice in some fundamental way (and if so, how)? The play has already been performed online by Trinity Street Players in Austin, livestreamed by City Theatre in Miami, and included in a collection called the ‘Scene Study Emergency Pack’ for teachers who are teaching acting via distance learning.” Watch it online.
Katerina Wong ’10
A dancer, choreographer, and co-artistic director of RAWdance in San Francisco
“Our solution for the moment is to turn to our digital modes of connection. We are calling it #RAWdanceGoesDigital, and are featuring a variety of short videos in a wide range of contexts, from excerpts of archival performance videos to new recordings of our dancers continuing their creative processes from home, to offerings that our dancers make which draw from other expertise (such as working as fitness trainers, massage therapists, and dance teachers).” Watch online.
Cara Reichel ’95
Founder of Prospect Theater Company with Peter Mills '95, her husband, in New York City
“During the first week of shelter in place, we asked our network of theater artists to record video of themselves singing ‘Two Buoys,’ one of Pete’s songs, and he edited them together into an uplifting video. It features Sarah Corey ’99 in Washington, D.C., Simone Zamore ’99 in New York City, Katie Pickett ’00 in the Boston area, Tira Harpaz ’74 in New York City, David Kessler ’99 in New Jersey, and Tony Valles ’97 in New York City.” Watch online.
Bronwen Gilbert Houck ’99
A photographer in Seattle, Wash.
“I am documenting my experience as a photographer now isolated at home in Seattle with my spouse and two children (ages 6 and 9). I am working on a series of images cataloging how our family life has changed now that our world has shrunk dramatically. I am also documenting the virtual world in which we are living now that our jobs, social life, schooling, extracurricular activities, fitness activities, seemingly everything is lived through apps such as Zoom and Skype. I don’t know where any of this artistic work is going, but it is keeping me engaged with my artistic brain while all of my professional photography contracts have been cancelled due to social distancing.”
Dayna Li ’14
A graduate student in directing at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange, Calif.
“I’m co-directing a documentary on the decriminalization of prostitution in America. The film features women who have worked as sex workers and who have also been exploited or trafficked. For all our interviews, we traveled to the location. In January and February, we went to the Bay Area, Washington D.C., and New York. But we couldn’t go to Nevada to film an interview with sex workers at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City. Luckily, one of the women owned professional camera equipment because she is America’s highest-paid legal sex worker and has a YouTube following. So we asked questions through Zoom as one woman recorded the interview with the camera.”