Workspaces offer clues to creative genius, says Summer Anne Burton

Perhaps the first insight about this photographic collection of the workspaces of famous artists and writers is that they existed at all. A designated time and place for creative practice makes it real and important, something to do that involves focus, repetition, and tools.

The aesthetics of the space matter too, in that they either reflect or contrast one’s own notion of what art making looks like. I have a faint love of the book-filled studies like those of the novelists depicted, but in fact my workspaces have always looked a little more like the illustrators, designers, and journalists. I’m more in the world in both practical and aesthetic ways. Same goes for the isolated paradise. I would love it there, so much that a nap or a walk is a far more likely outcome than work.

The pictures powerfully evoke the artists’ bodies and their personal lives too. There are creature comforts that need heeding, like a decent chair. The presence or absence of love and social connection is palpable when you know the story of a particular author. Though I have always craved a room of my own, I’m also mindful of the painful depressions endured by both Virginia Woolf and Anne Sexton. There are times when it’s better to set the work down and get outside those four walls.

For more great pictures, look at Allison Meier’s photo essay from the Smithsonian’s image collection. Want to check out some amazing creative spaces in the DC region next weekend? Come over Saturday May 9, 12pm-5pm for the Gateway Open Studio Tour!  After party at Gateway Arts Center 5pm-8pm.

About Anne L'Ecuyer

Anne is a strategist, facilitator and consultant who stays closely connected to an international network of city leaders, cultural professionals, and individual artists. She is an expert in the creative industries and cultural tourism in the United States, as well as the contributions of the arts toward educational, social, and environmental goals.
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