Cancelled Residences

Jan Cunningham

Artist's Website

Jan is a painter and photographer based in Connecticut. From her quiet, south-facing studio in New Haven, she reflects on the past eighteen months.

It has been a productive time. And yet, the pandemic, by slowing us all down, also slowed down the pace of the work. The space created by the pandemic allowed the work to find its own pace and depth. The paintings wanted an incremental, steady pace. I learned to trust that.

I have been in New Haven the entire time. New Haven is a very livable city, with its own pace and rhythms. My studio is in an industrial setting, in an urban neighborhood with accompanying soundscape. Out of necessity, one has to be alert to the unpredictable - not a bad thing to be in a studio.

The studio itself is quiet, kind of large, with high ceilings, large windows, and south light. Quiet is essential to my working process. I have to be able to hear myself think. The quiet countryside of Ireland would seem very agreeable. It seems, in my mind at least, to combine a wild ruggedness and domesticated beauty, owing to millennia of human habitation. Walking in the countryside will open new vistas externally and internally that will inform the work in unexpected and welcome ways. It will not be without its challenges, but nothing worth doing is. 

Being in a new place and having the opportunity to actually live there always affects Jan deeply. It allows for new points of view, and contributes to a map composed over a lifetime.

In addition to quiet, light is what most influences me and my work. I will be very interested in the light in West Cork. I would imagine that in response to the light that I find, I will want to make photographs and small watercolors and drawings. 

Currently, Jan is working on a large triptych based of three canvasses derived from the Golden Rule. It will be a part of her next solo show at the Anita Rogers Gallery in New York.

I usually work on three to five paintings at a time, but now and then a painting comes along that requires all of my attention. The triptych I am working on now is the second painting over the past eighteen months to make this demand. The other is “Accord,” a painting I finished earlier this year.  Both of these paintings, and a good part of the work I have done over the past eighteen months will be included in my next exhibition. I am looking forward to that very much.