SARATOGA SPRINGS – Parenting during the pandemic came with its own set of unique challenges. Saratoga Springs’ artist Tara Hughes explores some of those challenges in a series of paintings and three-dimensional works that will be on view at C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios in Saratoga Springs starting Friday.
Called “Spells” the exhibit is part of a celebration of C.R.E.A.T.E.’s new studio location at 70B Beekman Street. It’s also part of an international initiative, called Taking Up Space, which highlights artwork made by living women artists during the month of May.
Each of the works in the exhibit was made during the last two years, while Hughes was taking care of her young children in the midst of lockdowns and the upheaval brought about by the pandemic.
In some of the drawings and paintings, Hughes directly reflects on the beauty and exhaustion of parenting. In one piece, a figure rests on the floor, a hand holding onto a child in a crib and a foot connecting to a child sleeping in a bed. Other pieces reference themes of personal emotional trauma around COVID-19.
Creating artwork during the pandemic was difficult, “but actually, it also is what got me through it,” Hughes noted. “By having that structure and the projects to work through the pandemic [with] my art, I found it to be . . . the only way that I could really process what was going on.”
She was limited in the materials she had available and used mostly paints, clay, wool, wood and fabric, rather than the more industrial materials she’s used in the past.
“The work . . . is really just personal and about being home as a mother with my kids during that time, in a very specific and honest way, which I don’t think I addressed quite as head-on in the past,” Hughes said.
“I do feel like women and mothers had a particular experience during the pandemic.”
“Spells” will be shown alongside “Pictures In Health” an annual show curated by C.R.E.A.T.E. in honor of Mental Health Awareness month, a fitting combination.
“[‘Spells’] is in a way about community and about mental health,” Hughes said. “It did seem like the perfect place to show this work.”
C.R.E.A.T.E., a non-profit which has another studio in Schenectady, focuses on providing a space where the benefits of art-making impact both the individual and the community and offers low-cost art workshops and community wellness activities among other opportunities.
After subleasing studio space for the last few years from Living Resources’ gallery/workshop on Beekman Street, C.R.E.A.T.E.’s Saratoga Springs studio settled into the 70B Beekman St. location in March.
“We were excited to find a spot still in the Beekman Street Arts District, right next door to [Living Resources] that allows us to create our own space to welcome the community back on an ongoing, more regular basis,” said Executive Director Heather Hutchison.
“We’ll be able to more fully expand our offerings to the public now, and get back to highlighting art exhibits and programs that relates to our mission of using art for healing, personal growth and community connection.”
Saratoga site director Julie Lewis said the new studio is a perfect fit.
“There is plenty of wall space for shows and exhibitions, open floor space for community programming, open storage for participants to access a variety of art materials, a bathroom, a small kitchen and a private office space. The new space also fits our needs geographically, as we are expanding our programming and offerings to our community in Saratoga Springs,” Lewis said.
On Friday, C.R.E.A.T.E. will host an open house and art reception from 5-8 p.m. It will include art-making activities, a raffle and sales of limited edition custom products to support C.R.E.A.T.E. For more information visit createcommunitystudios.org.