Lucy Nordlinger

Text by Kate Mothes

Above: Halley (When We Meet at Last), 2020, Dye, acrylic, bleach, and thread on muslin, linen, and canvas, 36 x 48in.

New York City has been and continues to be impacted by pandemic lockdown orders like nowhere else in the country. While many artists have had to transition to home workspaces due to safety concerns in communal studios, or not wanting to pay rent on spaces they have not been able to access, some find working at home to be just the right fit. Working out of a small, home-based space has influenced how Brooklyn-based artist Lucy Nordlinger thinks about scale, as well as the materials she chooses and how she assembles them. “I work out of my apartment. I have not had a studio outside of undergraduate and graduate school, so I am used to working from home. The piecemeal quality of my work emerged from this particular space; the size of my apartment (and size of my security deposit) prohibits making any sort of large-scale painting moves, so I found a work-around by creating smaller pieces to collage together into larger compositions.”

Annunciation II, 2020, Dye, bleach, gouache and acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16 in., and Untitled, 2020, Dye and acrylic on canvas and muslin, 16 x 20in.

Home also informs the imagery that appears in her work, such as plants and flowers placed around the rooms, the trees out the window, or stained glass from an old church she can see from her apartment. She thinks of her work like a time capsule of experiences and feelings associated with walks around the neighborhood, watching the seasons change, or wondering about the mysteries of the sky and spaces beyond the city. “I am exploring the poetics of the terrestrial and the cosmic, using sewing and collage to facilitate points of contact between the two,” she explains. “Symbols, gestures, spaces, and images converge– the way they might in a dream, forming a language of their own.” Plants, stars, moons, and other organic shapes are nestled against each other.

Untitled Collage, 2020, Dye, bleach, and acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12in., and Untitled Collage, 2020, Dye, bleach, acrylic, and gouache on canvas, 9 x 12in.

The process of assembling these pieces is a combination of dyeing, bleaching, and painting bits of fabric, then assembling them into larger compositions by cutting and stitching to build and reveal layers. There is an element of chance to each step, as Nordlinger says: “Using dye and bleach to paint with is fairly unpredictable. I never quite know how a piece is going to turn out. It forces me to stay intuitive, responding to whatever emerges rather than following some arbitrary plan.” To prepare for new work, she spends time collecting snippets of text or images, such as from poetry or books she has read. She recently finished The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. “A perfect read for this surreal, stagnant summer. I couldn’t put it down.” She also goes for walks and finds time to be in nature, looking at painting books, and researching cosmic happenings or geological history — any combination of which can become a catalyst for new work. / @lucynordlinger

Annunciation I, 2020, Dye, bleach, gouache and sewing on canvas, 12 x 16in.

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