The artist’s studio occupies a unique place in our collective imagination. The public – especially those who appreciate but do not create art – often regard the studio as a type of magical workshop. Behind a closed door, working alone, an artist transforms materials that at first glance don’t seem all that special – canvas, clay, string, paint, and the like – into statements that have the power to move hearts, change minds, and influence society.
This sense of the artist’s studio as a space apart from society has its appeal. We all enjoy having a place to concentrate on our work and focus on realizing a unique vision, whatever that may be. But in our experience at the American Fabric Arts building, it’s clear that artists do not exist outside of society. They are firmly within it. And the artist’s studio exists not on some magical plane firmly outside the bounds of everyday life – instead, the artist’s studio is a pivotal part of a healthy, vibrant community.
Understanding Artists as Working Professionals
There’s a saying among authors that a book is not finished until someone reads it. The same can be said of a piece of art. All art is a conversation. The artist uses their skill to make a statement and presents it to an audience; their reaction and understanding of that piece is an important part of our collective cultural conversation.
During Open Studios and studio visits, the public has a chance to extend these conversations and gain a deeper appreciation of the artist as a working professional. If you’ve ever stood in a gallery or museum and wondered what was going through the artist’s mind as they created, you’ll appreciate what a precious and rare opportunity it is to talk with the artist directly and ask them. The benefits of these conversations flow both ways: we’ve heard from many of the artists who maintain their studios here in Bridgeport, CT that they have been inspired, energized and given fresh perspective on their work as a result of interactions with studio visitors.
Maintaining a studio also helps others in the arts community discover and locate artists of interest. Just like an avid reader will go to the bookstore or library to browse an author’s latest works, gallery owners, curators, and collectors know that working studios are a rich repository of interesting art. The more studios there are in an area, the stronger the arts community becomes!