Artist in Residence – Interview with Sam Pullin

Today I am sharing an interview I did with fellow Jersey City artist Sam Pullin. This is an interview series I am calling Artist in Residence.

I heard this great quote on the web recently: “On the bright side, I am no longer calling this shelter-in-place. I am now an artist-in-residence.” It got me thinking about how times of adversity and challenge are often what inspire action and creation for us artists.

I decided to seek out some peers whom I admire and ask them how they are using this time to be working artists. What has changed for them? Where are they finding room to create at home if they previously worked in an offsite studio, out-of-doors, or are now sharing a home studio with other working-from-home family members? What are they creating now – is it influenced by the current situation or on a similar path as before? Are they feeling called to action or struggling to create?

Everyone is responding differently to this crisis. Let’s learn how others are coping with their new status as Artists in Residence.


I emailed Sam the above questions and here is what he had to say:

One of the silver linings of having more time at home is that it’s a great time to reconnect with old friends that the pace and demands of the world have caused us to loose touch with.

I have definitely spent way more time and energy on making paintings over this quarantine period and feel as though my work has developed technically because of the level of focus I can spend on it. I am also working a lot smaller because of my limited supplies, particularly when it comes to canvas and I think that the change in scale is making things a bit more engaging and new. I dont want to order any unnecessary items but if I run out of canvas I may have to. If I’m unable to paint I think I will loose my mind!

The subject matter of my recent paintings, which I’m calling the “quarantine series” is inspired by my reaction to what’s happening in the world.  The tone of the paintings range from funny and light hearted to horrific and obscene, reflecting on both on my desire to turn away grom the horror of what’s happening and the need to acknowledge the full extent of the suffering that this has caused. 

I have been thinking a lot about why I make art and who benefits from the art market while paying close attention to the economic bailout, the half assed response to the coronavirus at the federal level and the pundents and political leaders who are placing market profits over human life. After this virus takes it’s horrible toll and we come out the other side of this i think there will be an opportunity to restructure some aspects of society and I’m sure there will be some organizations and individuals that seek to exploit the situation. I plan on focusing my creative energy into something that can force the restructuring into something positive and distribute the resources in a more equitable manner…I’m not exactly sure how to do that, but I spend a lot of time thinking about it and I assume it will mean rallying people and coming together with others to build coalitions.

I always thought of art making as two separate but related endeavours: the introspective time spent in the studio making the work and effort of putting it into the world and allowing it to interact with the people. It’s nice to have time in the studio, but when this is done I want to take it out into the world and see what can be done.

Thank you Sam for your thoughtful response – I think we can all relate to your concerns and your hopes for when this passes.

You can learn more about Sam here on his instagram:

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