Once the pandemic struck, there was the way it was supposed to happen. We all planned to pick up and actually read that book, value lost time with family, learn to cook vegetables, take long, meditative walks, rest, pause, regroup. Obviously, that lasted… well, from looking across the USA, maybe it never really started. One of the reasons why I find Oakland-based artist and founder of the art brand People I’ve Loved, Carissa Potter’s work so fascinating in this context is how it openly talks about both these longings and missed opportunities. Even in our partnership with her and the art program If You Were Here Now, the work speaks honestly about how we relentlessly dream up scenarios and conversations we wish we could have had and would have if things were even just a little more perfect.
This past week, Potter opened Making Being Here Enough, a virtual show at Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Francisco, of sumi ink works that touch on these needed intimate moments with each other in the face of continued adversity around us. Even though many of these speak to a timelessness, it’s hard to look at them without the ominous cloud of Covid or the need for social justice reform. Potter herself recently became a mother of a child who needs extra care, and this the gallery notes so eloquently, “These paintings are made by a woman who has learned how to comfort herself.” From intertwined bodies to simple still-lifes to social distanced conversations and even solitary nude, the works quietly speak of acceptance and the need to be at peace with uncertainty.
There is enormous fortitude in just asking ourselves to be okay with that uncertainty. For Potter, it is an exploration of not only self but how she sees the world around us. We often look for absolutes and answers, but in just calling the show Making Being Here Enough, she cautions that a pause in the chaos is power enough. —Evan Pricco