Mickalene Thomas: Love is a Shape Untitled (Materials). Artwork (c) the artist / Photography (c) Casey Kelbaugh (pages 86-87)
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An Interview with “Open Studio” Authors Sharon Coplan Hurowitz & Amanda Benchley

This lavish new book takes you inside the private studios of 17 of today’s most celebrated artists as they draw, paint, sculpt, or design an original art project that readers can re-create at home

Open Studio: Do-It-Yourself Art Projects by Contemporary Artists showcases the work of Marina Abramovic, George Condo, Will Cotton, John Currin, Thomas Demand, Rachel Feinstein, the Haas Brothers, Alex Israel, Rashid Johnson, KAWS, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, Mickalene Thomas, Sarah Sze, William Wegman, and Lawrence Weiner. The book demystifies the studio practice through fun, accessible, D.I.Y. art projects.

Open Studio ($79.95) is now available at The Met Store

Each entry includes a brief profile that explores how the artist came to love art, their unique creative methodologies, and the sources of their inspiration. It provides a suggested list of supplies, illustrated step-by-step instructions, pullout templates and stencils, and essential elements for at-home art projects. No special skills or previous art experience are required.

The result will inspire kids and adults to blaze their own creative trails. We recently spoke with the book’s coauthors, Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and Amanda Benchley, about this exciting collaboration.

Sharon Coplan Hurowitz (left) and Amanda Benchley (right) with Will Cotton in his Tribeca studio. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh

How did you come up with the list of artists? Selecting them was an organic process. Many are friends, so it was natural to reach out to those who we thought would take this special journey with us. The invitation to participate in Open Studio was an unusual request—to create an art project and be photographed making it in the studio. So we needed artists who were excited about the concept—and we’re grateful to them.

Maya Lin: Mouth of the Amazon. Artwork (c) the artist / Photography (c) Casey Kelbaugh

What was it like visiting so many different artists’ studios? It’s always a privilege to see an artist’s workspace: what books and props they reference; what music is playing; is the space big or small, neat or messy, filled with assistants or solitary. It gives you a new perspective into their work.

Wangechi Mutu in her studio. Artwork (c) the artist / Photography (c) Casey Kelbaugh

What kinds of ideas inspired some of the art projects? The inspiration came from a love of artists’ books and edition-making. Jasper John’s 1971 Target, in The Met collection, was the springboard. The artwork consists of a printed outline of a target along with real-life art supplies (a paintbrush and three watercolors affixed to the paper), and Johns leaves room for you to collaborate and sign your name to the artwork.

In a similar spirit, many Open Studio artists designed detachable inserts to make their art projects interactive and create an exchange with the reader. Many produced projects tied their art-making practices, while others surprised us with projects connected to earlier times in their lives, such as childhood and art school.

Are the art projects designed for specific age groups? No, each artist was given carte blanche. Some—like Rachel Feinstein’s paper sculpture—are more complicated, while others—such as the George Condo color-by-number or Bill Wegman’s dog heads—are straightforward and fun for kids and adults. 

William Wegman: Altered Photos; showing step-by-step and insert to help make the artwork. Photography: © Nicholas Calcott.

Readers love the book’s design and its user-friendly projects. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Open Studio is designed to be used. Creativity is at the heart of the book, and Open Studio is the opportunity for you to be the artist. We hope readers are inspired to make the projects—and then make more art!

Sharon Coplan Hurowitz is an independent curator and publisher; Amanda Benchley is a journalist and filmmaker. Published by Phaidon, their beautifully designed book makes a wonderful gift idea for both art lovers and art makers—whether recipients choose to explore the fun, diverse D.I.Y. art projects, or simply admire this eye-catching art book on their coffee tables. Shop it at The Met Store now.

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