New Studio… Who Dis!? (studio reclamation/ redesign)

Last week I did a thing…

I had already been in my studio for 8 months, but sadly, I had done little to get it to really be a space that supported my work and vision. My studio is at home and it was created out of an extra bedroom in our apartment. It even had a bed in it and the closet was being used for linen and my boys’ books. 

I had all of my art things in there, even my drawing table, but the space was still just kinda crazy. I didn’t have an office desk and was usually sitting in my living room or garden to work on my computer. During the summer that was great, but in these colder winter days, I was a lot less inclined to work outside for long stretches.

Also, a hybrid workspace had me feeling all out of focus. Is this a studio or not? 

I love being in the studio, and a space that is all mine – filled with my artwork on the walls and my computer and supplies for my work really helps me feel supported in what I want to create. I feel serious. I feel creative. I want to be in my space when it reflects my vision. 

A few weeks ago, I took the linen out of the closet and stored it in some new baskets I recently purchased. I unpacked my studio boxes and suitcases to put my supplies and books in the closet instead. 

I still didn’t have an office desk, so last week, I hired a carpenter. I learned about Mostafa from a lady in an What’s App group for Black expats in Cairo. I had invited him over a few weeks ago to consult about making several different things for my apartment: a play set for our boys to romp around with in the garden, some shelving for the kitchen and living-room, and an office desk for my studio. I decided that I’d get the office desk made first. 

Mostafa dismantled the bed frame which was taking up so much space, and got to work putting together the wooden pieces for the office desk design we had agreed on. 

Here’s the completed desk:

My new office desk has 3 shelving areas in it: one inner shelf, an outer shelf, and an open shelf unit. The desktop is really large and perfect for my big IMac computer screen. 

On the next day, I put more of my work on the walls, put my big IMac on my office desktop, and just got everything in it’s place. Crazy thing is, when I didn’t have a proper desk, I was hardly using my IMac, but now I’m using it every day. 

On the next day, something really awesome happened. As I was getting my studio together, I found out that Erin Christovale, Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angelos was in town giving a talk at the American University in Cairo campus in Tahrir Square. We connected and arranged for a studio visit. 

My studio was soooo ready! 

It was soo energizing to have Erin over in a space that really feels like a workspace and reflects me as an artist – not hybrid of me as a mom, home-maker, artist, wife. Even though my studio is at home, once I enter this space (even if my children come in here to hang out with me), its a whole new world that’s all mine. Erin’s visit felt like a reflection of “if you build it they will come” . 

I even had a virtual studio visit later that evening with a gallerist, a curator, and a collector via Zoom. Over the weekend I participated in a panel hosted by Light Legacy Books on preserving community history – right from my studio, door locked – kids and husband on the other side of the door, me in my workspace. It felt really good. I really cherish having the space and time for myself and my greatest work. Alhumdulilah. I’m excited about what will creatively evolve from me while in this studio space.