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April 7, 2020

Andrew Chalfen Remains Active and Creative During Self-Quarantine

About the Author
Jasmine Noble

See the exhibition here


InLiquid Member Andrew Chalfen shares with us how he maintains a healthy, active routine during the COVID-19 pandemic. From confronting anxiety in a pro-active way to old school communication with an old friend, Andrew finds this period as a time to self-educate while self-isolating.
What are you doing to stay sane during this time?
If ever there was a time for addressing one’s anxiety through art-making, this is it. Really, it has been that way for me since November 2016, but this new viral adventure is quite the pile-on. So I’ve been clinging to routine: wake up, make my oat/kale/date/apple/yogurt smoothie, pour my coffee, sit in front of the light lamp for 20 minutes while doing DuoLingo (Spanish) while my cat BeBop claws at my clothes for attention, then I get down to work on art while listening to podcasts and music until darkness, sometimes beyond. A regular sleep schedule is a good thing.
Do you have any advice for others?
Get old school and call a friend on the phone every day. Maybe use Skype/Facetime. Do more exercise than I’ve been doing. Fill out yer census and for the love of God, get an absentee ballot and vote. Breathe. Snacks.
If you want to hear 3 hours of music I dig, I was a guest DJ on WKDU-FM back in November and you can listen to that show here and view the playlist here.
What’s your trick for making sure you wash your hands for 20 seconds?
Get all the digits and that edge of your palm below your pinkie that everyone forgets to soap up. Also, don’t venture out at all until 2022.
Do you have any movie or TV recommendations?
Been reading an article most every night from The New Yorker. That’s all I seem to have the attention for at the moment.
If you have Netflix, I’d highly recommend the design documentary series Abstract and the Japanese animation Aggretsuko. The new-ish Miles Davis doc was really good, too.
Tell us about your usual studio practices!
The past three weeks I’ve been working pretty much non-stop, fueled on nervous energy, on a just-finished 4′ x 3′ canvas, “Screaming Windows (Tiled City III).” My initial intention with this canvas was just to return to further exploration of a variant on my quixotic mix of color and shape preferences, generative process, randomization, and intentionality. And not for nothing, I recently sold (in the before times) “Tiled City II,” and there seemed to be some interest for additional works like that.
But the finished piece seems to radiate the current personal/collective freakout. The overload, distortions and flattening of digital information, the desperate singing of Italians and Spanish folks from their little balconies, the maze of unreality as we shelter-in-place, crammed in and isolated. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Perhaps it’s just another of my center-less cityscapes that can be hung any which way, colorful after-images you blink when you’ve rubbed your eyes too much.
It should be noted that even prior to COVID-19, I had already been sort of self-isolating, so I kinda got a head start. My beloved brother passed away unexpectedly in January and I’ve been in the grief-world aftermath of that, so the current zeitgeist of deep and sad unease is sort of familiar turf. I did a small mixed media piece right after my brother’s passing, called “Memory Drifter.” It’s a sort of music generator, or a musical filter, or memory filter, a saturated soap bubble of memory or nostalgia that starts fading, atomizing, loses color and definition, breaks apart. A memorial of sorts. I guess you could plug it into an amplifier?
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