• Monmouth Arts

How four artists share a studio in a global pandemic!

Updated: Jun 11

By Margaret Goddard

The Studio Spotlight series started in 2019, with studio visits to artists of all mediums in Monmouth County. During the quarantine period caused by COVID-19 in 2020, we're continuing to visit artists' studios remotely to check in on how local artists are coping and creating amidst hardship.

We were about to visit the studio that artists Ericka Bruno, Dawn DiCicco, Suzan Globus and Maria Verni share in Red Bank when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our region. So for this Studio Spotlight, we decided to put off an in-person studio visit for a safer time, and meanwhile find out how they have been coping and creating during the pandemic.

Though they aren't able to be together in their group studio, the four women have been rotating time in the studio to maintain social distancing. When they're not in the group studio, they work from home. Below, they share what they have been making lately and what makes them tick!

Ericka Bruno

Why do you make art?

Hmm, I have never considered not making art. An inner compulsion and curiosity seems to exist which I feel an obligation to honor. I believe it to be hard-wired in my DNA. I also feel as equally motivated to view, consider, and appreciate other artists’ work as much as I do figuring-out and creating my own. I suppose it could be defined as “problem solving” or “communication,” but the real truth is I just flat-out enjoy it.

How does working and living in this area affect the art you make?

My abstract art is very conceptual in nature, and comes from within, so other than my very immediate physical surroundings, (studio size, ample light, temperature, etc), location plays virtually no part.

What have you been thinking about/obsessing over recently?

For me, color palettes are always a point of obsession. That, and how to get more time into the day. I’m obsessing about art installations as opposed to 2D paintings/drawings. I’ve experienced several very awe-inspiring and interesting ones lately, and the 3D aspect and interactive qualities of some create such a different dynamic in the way one experiences art through immersion. (Which of course, spurs you to ask, “Are you considering going down that path?”) Let’s just say the wheels are turning...

What three words would you use to describe the group studio?

Inspiring, Engaging, Ingenious

Has being home with family affected your creativity/art practice?

My quarantine studio [at home] is very tiny, cramped and with so-so lighting. I spend the majority of my time alone, so quarantining at home or anywhere while working is much the same.

Has your art changed during this challenging time of physical distancing?

My art hasn't changed much at all, mostly in size at this moment because I have less space. My work, while still on professional quality paper and paints, could almost be somewhat like sketchbook studies. Several I plan to take much larger when I get back into the big space. I have worked out some issues while small, which is much better to do than on a large canvas. At the moment, some pieces are much more minimalistic and linear. Also, my palette is a bit more subdued, but that's because those are the only colors I have to work with! Making do with what I have... I consider it "problem-solving!"

You can find Ericka's work on her website and Instagram.

Dawn DiCicco

Why do you make art?

I can’t remember when or why I started making art but I was always either drawing or playing with clay when I was a child. I majored in art in college and became a graphic designer. It’s odd, but after I started working I stopped drawing. It wasn’t until after my children were grown that I started making art again. I took some basic drawing classes as a refresher sort of thing and on a whim took an abstract painting class and it resonated with me. I like the escape it gives me and the physical act of painting. I always loved the sensation and the connection of the pencil or brush on paper or canvas.

How does working and living in this area affect the art you make?

I grew up at the shore in Ocean county and it can be very inspiring, but traditional depictions of the ocean and the surrounding area were the norm. Abstract art wasn’t very popular when I lived there. I feel a little more freedom to explore Abstraction now.

What have you been thinking about/obsessing over recently?

Climate change, the lack of compassion people have for animals. I’m working on going vegan.



What three words would you use to describe the group studio?

Euphoric, Challenging, Adventure

Has being home with family affected your creativity/art practice?

I’ve been doing a lot of small work on paper at home. You can find it on my website [and above left].

Has your art changed during this challenging time of physical distancing?

Nothing has really changed for me, still doing abstract and collage.

You can find Dawn's work through her website, her Instagram, Red Bank Frameworks, and Windsor Gallery.

Suzan Globus

Why do you make art?

I make art for a variety of reasons, which can change from day to day. Making art is a way to express myself about life as I see it. Perhaps it creates a connection with others. I believe art helps us to understand our world better although my art doesn’t represent things I’ve seen. Not making art does not make me happy.

How does working and living in this area affect the art you make?

Working and living in this area directly affects the art I make because most of the bark I paint are pieces that I’ve collected on my morning walks. The influence of nature is a consistent thread throughout my work and living here provides multiple settings for experiencing nature.

What have you been thinking about/obsessing over recently?

Yupo paper.

What three words would you use to describe the group studio?

Convenient, Collaborative, and Sunny

Has being home with family affected your creativity/art practice?

Being home with my family hasn't affected my practice except our puppy seems to have developed a taste for blue paint. Doing all things COVID-related such as ordering food for pick up, sourcing products, doing extra cleaning and disinfecting, and sewing face masks for health care workers has taken time from my practice.

Has your art changed during this challenging time of physical distancing?

My art changed to working on bark exclusively while working from home. I can return to pouring paint in my studio.

You can find Suzan's work on her website and Instagram.

Maria Verni

Why do you make art?

I make art simply because I love to! It’s always been something I could turn to for fun, to escape stress, work out problems, etc. It’s also something that I’m not afraid of or intimidated by...I learn new things with every new piece and even challenges or colossal mistakes don’t rattle me or stop me from trying again. A large portion of my recent work has been making custom pieces for clients - it is such a tremendous gift and honor.

How does working and living in this area affect the art you make?

One obvious reason is the sheer beauty of being near the Navesink River and beaches. It’s a beautiful area of New Jersey that’s so easy to explore. Another is the beautiful architecture in Red Bank - so many buildings are works of art themselves. And, finally, it’s an area I’ve found the most enthusiastic artistic support, especially for emerging artists. There is a great sense of community pride in this area, with lots of cross-marketing between local shops and restaurants and artists.

What have you been thinking about/obsessing over recently?

I’ve been obsessing over increased use of photographs lately, as it goes hand in hand with my mixed media artwork. Exploring new areas to photograph, using old photographs and postcards in some new work, trying new techniques with paper and ink, and collaborating with other artists and photographers on Instagram.

What three words would you use to describe the group studio?

Exciting, Creative, Hopeful

Has your art changed during this challenging time of physical distancing?

For now, I’m helping my son try and finish his last year of high school from home and, boy, is that a challenge! Not creating a ton of new art - revisiting old work and doing some small commissioned pieces for now. Photography is my second art love and a much “quicker fix” for my new art these days. Seeking out new subjects and editing the pics has been fun!

You can find Maria's work on her Instagram.


105 Monmouth St.

Red Bank, NJ 07701

732.212.1890

The programs of Monmouth Arts are made possible in part by funds from the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

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