Friday, December 31, 2021

The Year That Was 2021


Again, not exactly a good year.  It began with me going back to the hospital, the place where I spent much of 2020.  Luckily this stay wasn't as long as those involving surgery.  Still, I spent much of this past year trying to improve my physical condition, with therapy for physical and speech, and many appointments with doctors for general check-ups, blood work, mental tests, ultrasounds, an MRI, and prescribed medications.  Meanwhile, the pandemic still rages, and though we at least have vaccines to keep us from the deadly effects, I had to wait a long time to get mine, and with a new variant making its way around the area, I still have to wear a mask any time I go anywhere.  Covid had an effect on the art world, and it still hasn't recovered.   Somehow my Studio remained open and available to me, and I'm allowed to drive a bit now, which has enabled me to make art at least.

Prints- Not surprisingly, with much of my time taken by medical issues, and not really having use of my car for half the year, I didn't get a whole lot of art done.  I only produced two prints this year, a good black and white print, Fever Dream, which was based on ideas that came to me in the hospital, and this year's holiday card.  I have ideas for one or two more, so I hope to get going on some of those in the new year.

Shows- I don't think I showed work anywhere this year, which had some to do with me, and some to do with the pandemic shutting down many art spaces.  That should also change in the new year, with at least one planned show in a space that I can get to, as long as I can hang the works myself.

Firsts- I discovered this year that my trusty sabre saw, which came from a friend of my father and has been in my possession since I was in Carbondale, has now stopped working.  But a replacement just showed up at the door a few days ago, so I'll be testing that real soon.  The two prints I did this past year involved wood pieces already cut to size.   This year's holiday card was a black and white print, combining woodcut and ink wash, as a result of not having any color paint to work with, a first for me.

Teaching- My longest college job has ended after 15 years, not because of my tumor, but even before that.  Covid accelerated that, but the process of dismantling our department had been going on for years, so it's not really a surprise.  Specialists gotten rid of, tenured faculty moved to other departments, studio equipment gotten rid of, overall faculty cut by more than 50%.  And though I had scheduled classes in drawing and printmaking at my Studio building (where I have had classes before), no one signed up, so they didn't happen.  However, I did get to do one related thing, I've been providing art instruction to my niece since March, at the request of her and her parents, sort of a payback for the work they did cleaning out my apartment while I was in the hospital.

Studio- Somehow, it remained open for the whole year, even as the pandemic raged and most classes and theater productions were shut down.  Somehow we printmakers are considered essential workers, so as long as we had our keys, we could keep using it.  I was a bit shocked to come in last month and see my tack board almost off the wall, but that has been repaired.  Made my first print since coming home from the hospital, and I think it was a success, so that's a good sign. 

So this was a challenging year, but I seem to have survived it, and have the ability to make art, which counts for a lot.  Can't do much about the difficulty in buying supplies, but that is out of my hands.  When my students had problems buying materials for the last college class I taught, my supervisor told me to tell them to do the best they can, and to accept substitutions for some things.  Right now I am working with lower grade tools, and it's much harder to get frames, plexi, and mats than it used to be, and I don't know if and when I'll see all the things I possessed before, but I can make prints, so I am doing the best I can.


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