Safer at Home: Exploring the ONE Archives Collection

Week 6 (May 25, 2020)

Artist John Quitman Lynch looks up at the camera while seated on the floor of his New York City apartment. He wears a striped woven shirt and black pants, and a handful of his drawings scatter across his lap and spill onto the floor. It is not clear whether this photograph was staged or if his partner or someone else came across the artist taking stock of his work and decided to snap a picture. Lynch was born and raised in Long Beach, CA but moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in the 1950s with his partner, Harold William Rebarich. The pair later returned to live in California, and Lynch got a job in the Art Department of California State University, Long Beach where he worked for thirteen years. 

One can imagine that their New York apartment was small, and the living room or bedroom might have doubled as a work space or storage space for Lynch’s work. Another image in the collection shows Lynch in the same room as the one shown here but standing at an easel. His white shirt blends into the white curtains on the window, and his dark pants match the dark wall color. He stands as stiff and straight as the easel. Creating work from home, as are many artists now, begs the question of how Lynch found living and working in the same space. Was working from home comforting, generative, and inspiring at the same time that it might have felt constraining and isolating?

This post highlights the importance of artists’ responses to and documentation of their current moment and the ways their work acts as a lens for viewers to reflect on their own situations. Thus, as part of the Safer at Home project, I have invited four contemporary Los Angeles based artists—Ben Cuevas, MariNaomi, Brenda Zhang (Bz), and Rakeem Cunningham—to share some of their work and reflections on their practice in the time of Covid-19. Conversations with these artists will take place live online on the first four Mondays in June. Their work as well as videos of these conversations will be available in the online exhibition. 

These connections between past artists and materials in the Archive and these contemporary artists not only further the dialogue between past and present but underscore the idea that an archive is always in process. 

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