Realistic routine of a New York artist
Manon Tallien de Cabarrus
Me Time is an exhibition of the work of Lucie Rosická at Guttenberg Arts, an artist studio in Guttenberg, New Jersey opened until January 31st, 2023. She presents the work she did during her three-months residency at the studio. Here is how she works.
Her morning starts with a smell: a fresh cup of coffee. It also starts with a sound: the rhythmic pulses of her sewing machine. Her thin hands are guiding beige fabric between two needles, following lines she has drawn with a piece of soap she uses as chalk. She has long beautiful fingers, perfect red nail polish, a few golden rings including her engagement ring and her wedding ring. Her gestures are precise, trained, without hesitation.
Lucie Rosická, 24, a textile artist from Olomouc, Czech Republic, likes to use her mornings for her mechanical work, keeping the creative parts for the afternoon.
This has been her routine for the past two months, ever since she moved to the United States for a three-months residency at Guttenberg Arts, an artist workshop and studio in Guttenberg, New Jersey.
The studio is hidden in a small street in a small residential town in New Jersey, with 12,000 inhabitants. With only four blocks from north to south, Guttenberg is mainly composed of two-or-three story buildings and local shops. Surprisingly, it is also one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. A large portion of the town’s population lives in a very tall condominium complex, the “Galaxy Towers”.
From its waterfront, the skyline of the whole island of Manhattan is visible on the other side of Hudson River, with its tall buildings that sharply differ from the calm of Guttenberg, on this clear morning of November.
The studio looks like any building of the town from the outside : white, not very tall, two glass doors, and just a little metal plaque that reads “Bulls Ferry Studios”. But inside is a 4,500 square feet studio with 6 different presses to print on paper and fabric, a ceramic oven, a dark room, glass-blowing equipment, and a sewing machine. It is a fairytale for creative souls : cardboard boxes filled with unknown objects trying to escape, plants, various orange squashes coming from the community garden behind the studio, pots of colorful bright paint and pigments, white clay…
Rosická wears headphones to listen to her favorite type of podcast : true crime. “Once, my husband told me I looked like a princess doing embroidery but listening to terrifying stories. It’s called balance!”.
She crosses the room to pay a visit to Mark Lester, a ceramist. When she enters, he takes off his earbuds. When asking what he is listening to, he explains it is a podcast about the Moon and rockets to go there. Probably to help him balance with the earthiness of the clay he shapes. For weeks, Lester has been working on a kimchi pot to ferment cabbage in a Korean style, mainly because he wants to have one.
The third artist in the residency is Julien Dorsey, who does cyanotype, a printing method using curcuma and vinegar to reveal images. He prefers using the sunshine to activate the chemicals than the dedicated machines in the darkroom downstairs, so he crosses the studio to the community garden behind, trying not to drop his precious cargo despite Chico, the studio owner’s dog, playing around him.
The three artists did not know each other before coming here, but they are all enjoying the experience. For Rosická, it is a dream come true. “I still don’t realize how lucky I am”.
When she was a teenager, she did not want to become an artist. She did not believe she could fit into what she pictured as the artist’s lifestyle, with non-stop partying and relying on late-night inspiration and drugs as the only way to create art. “I had this idea that to be an artist you need to suffer”, she said. She is attached to her routine, a 9 to 5 every day in the studio. She never wanted to be a cursed poet.
Routine is a polysemic word with both positive and negative connotations. According to Britannica, it can be “a regular way of doing things in a particular order” but also “a boring state or situation in which things are done the same way”.
Often, the 21st century internet also glorifies routines, especially morning routines, especially when it comes to YouTube videos. “PRODUCTIVE WINTER MORNING ROUTINE 2022 *realistic*”, “5 AM Morning Routine : Early Morning Hacks for a Health & Productive Day” flourish everyday on the platform. Rosická’s routine ? A complete flow with her sewing machine.
Routine can be a way to avoid decision fatigue and increase productivity, which is an obsession of our time. Regularity creates productivity. Even for an artist.
A dissolute life, Charles-Baudelaire style, fits badly in the 21st Century. Did Baudelaire ever think of his carbon footprint ?
Lucie Rosická does. Most of her fabric is re-used, she shapes her art to fit in scrap fabric coming from fashion studios. She draws her patterns on old pieces of paper that could have been thrown away.
Because she can only be in New York for three months, she has her priorities. She does not want to have a two-day hangover because she doesn’t want anything to get in the way of her early morning commute from her apartment in the South Bronx. Along the way, she captures the look, the light, and the colors of the city in drawings and in the quiet of her studio. She transforms them into textile works of art.
Her voice is modified by the needle she holds between her teeth as she is speaking and pinning a piece she wants to sew. Then she glues pieces of fabric together with adhesive spray, to make sure it does not move. It represents a flowy lock of hair.
Her art is mostly about femininity and every aspect of being a woman: shaving, nail polish, face masks… Showing a beige piece called “Hair clip”, where multiple lines of embroidery shape the object among many locks of hair, she explains: “I like when you can see someone spend time on it”. Her form of work is a way for her to honor women who spent hours on tapestry.
This sense of heritage also comes from her grandmother, who taught her how to knit, and her mother, who taught her how to sew clothes for her Barbies. She adapted it to her lifestyle and her time, to make it part of the realistic routine of a New York artist.