December 31, 2022 marked the last day in my studio space of 20 years. 20 years. Thousands of images created, breeding grounds for over 80 shows, tens of thousands of hours of work, collaborations with curators, gallerist, collectors and friends, hundreds of studio visits and tens of thousands of photos … my own and those taken by guests, documentation of moments beyond counting posted online and now lost in some parallel space of ones and zeros. It got me thinking about what is a studio beyond the standard definition. How a space can affect your work, how work effects the space and how those lines so quickly blur. A studio is a sovereign nation for personal expression, a temple of sorts, a sanctuary, a therapist, a laboratory, your favorite happy hour bar, hang-out lounge and occasional bedroom. It fills with energy becoming something beyond imagination … a kind of physical manifestation of the inner workings of an artist’s mind, where thankfully, there is an exit.
A studio is a place that fills with memorabilia. Objects, odds and ends that catch your attention or imagination at some point throughout the years, each of which serve as a reminder of something you wish to explore in your work. Some objects don’t reveal their purpose for years, piling up in various spaces, forming a kind of ad hoc hierarchy, changing meaning over time until one day the chance juxtaposition of mindset, object and process collide, and new works are born.
Then there is the patina of a space … the result or fallout of a somewhat aggressive attack on my canvases. Over the years my studio had become a work of art in itself, a somewhat surreal environment where it became like standing in a painting while making paintings. A hall of mirrors where standard time was put on pause. Many days I would get every bit as involved in the floor and walls as I did anything else. The studio was a consistent access point to a 20-year trip down the rabbit hole.
I now find myself at a crossroads in my artistic journey, open to re-evaluating my creative process, finding new perspectives and eventually a new space where the journey will no doubt continue anew.
So, as I bid farewell to one space, I am filled with gratitude for all it provided and excitement and curiosity for the next. Thank you to everyone reading this who have shared some of that space and time with me.
I hope you enjoy these musings and a look at a few of the photos of the footprints left behind.
This article originally appeared in John Bell’s blog.
Salt Lake City-based artist John Bell’s multi-disciplinary practice explores the intersections of social media, digital imagery, performance and natural processes, examining social, political and cultural perceptions.