VCS alumnus Benjamin Lee Sperry on moving his practice from the studio to his home, cooking and art, and reading “Notes on Art and Resistance” by Sara Magenheimer
A few days ago, I received a message from 2016 VCS alumnus Benjamin Lee Sperry with a reading suggestion for the blog and an update on how he’s doing. We chatted a little bit via e-mail, and he graciously agreed to let me quote from his initial message here and include a few images that he sent (all of which you can enlarge by clicking on the thumbnails below).
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I wanted to send you this Sara Magenheimer piece from 2017 titled “Notes on Art and Resistance” It’s a piece I identified with the first time I read it, but it seems to have new resonance given the current situation. So much so that I’ve assigned it as a reading to the classes I’m teaching that have now gone online, and have been mailing it to artist friends as suggested reading.
I also included a couple of photographs showing the ways in which I’ve been trying to make use of any available space to keep my artistic practice flowing from home. Until recently I was working out of a studio space in Gowanus but with the effort to social distance, the building is basically shut down. I’ve since reverted to many DIY tactics that (like many artists) is really how I got my start in the first place. It includes printing in the kitchen, painting on the scaffolding that is outside my second story window, and working in the hallway, as my 3rd fl. neighbors have seemingly left town.
I generally love to cooking in normal life, but like many, dinner has become an especially fun “event” for me and my family, and with that I’ve revisited a wonderful “artists cookbook” by Julia Sherman that includes not only recipes, but interviews and writings from the likes of Tauba Auerbach, Robert Irwin, Harry Gesner, and Laurie Anderson. The book was a gift to me a few years back, but it’s proved it’s worth over the last month or two. It’s provided inspiration for dinner and just general inspiration in it’s short segment pieces.
Lastly, I’m planning a “no-contact” and somewhat illicit feeling “book swap” with a friend later in the week. We’re breaking out the disinfectant wipes and each packing a bag of books, articles, cookbooks, and other media that we think the other would enjoy and doing a “drop” on the door step for the other to pick up.
Anyways, I wish all the best to the Visual and Critical Studies program and SVA at large, and I so hope you and Amy are safe and holding up fine. Please tell her I said hello!
Benjamin Lee Sperry