Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Studio Is Where You Are

Peter Fagundo
School of The Art Institute

When I was in graduate school at SAIC, we were given these studios with no windows, no doors and low fluorescent lighting.  They had a feeling of office cubicles and the effect was anxiety producing.  I felt sort of naked and nervous.  This circumstance became the fuel for much of my work that year.  I even used mostly office supplies from the old Horder store across Monroe Street.  Yellow legal pad paper and white out were the carbohydrate of my practice.  I filled the space with work and then emptied it…twice.  By the end of the that year, there was only two pieces of Belgian linen, that fit perfectly out of the wrapper, on the two long walls, a square of cotton duct canvas on the small wall and the floor donned a “rug” made from yellow legal pad paper scotch taped together.  Ray Yoshida, my adviser, said on one of our last meetings… “It’s better when you are quiet.”

Since then my studio has always been in my home; in the basement, the dining room or the pantry… where ever I find myself.  An image comes to mind I saw years ago of an aged Sam Francis painting, hunched over the canvas on the floor, in an old pair of sweats and white tube socks.  “That’s what I want!” I thought to myself.  Then I remember reading somewhere that Pablo Neruda used to disappear during dinner parties, at his house, to sneak a bit of writing in his study, only to reappear, giggling, as if nothing had happened.  Where ever I find myself, that’s where the studio is for me. 

At present, I find myself living in Evanston with my wife and three kids.  We reside in an old manor house that my wife has spent the last 12 years restoring to perfection.  It is beautiful but the only place that feels right to have a studio is in the basement.  I used to only make work down here.  I used to think that was all one was supposed to do in a studio.  I even had fluorescent lighting installed at the beginning.  Now I have half fluorescent lighting and half lamp light which is warm and cozy.  I work hard but I also read, eat, nap… what ever else we do.  One of my favorite studio occurrences lately was a day that my four year old was home sick.  He was not feeling well and I was in dire need of some studio time.  I tried everything to entertain him and make him feel better but nothing was working.  I finally just brought him down to my studio, the place I really wanted to be.  “Do what you want.”  I said in a salty tone.  “I’ve gotta draw today.”  He whined and I put him on the little couch I’d found in the alley last year.  I put on some Mabel Mercer, took out my drawing things and let him be.  He was asleep by the end of the first song.  He took a three-hour nap on that little couch.  I joined him for the last hour. We both woke up feeling better.

Peter Fagundo lives and works in Evanston, Illinois. He received his BS in Psychology and Fine Art from Regis University, Denver, Colorado in 1997, and his MFA in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003 where he was the recipient of the Merit Scholarship. He is a currently a faculty member in the Departments of Contemporary Practices and Painting and Drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited at venues including devening projects + editions, Chicago (where he is represented).

All images courtesy of the artist.

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