Courtesy of Emily Lambert

Brooklyn-based artist Jaqueline Cedar gave a lecture to KSC art professor Emily Lambert’s beginning painting class, on October 20. During the lecture, Cedar discussed her work as an artist and curator, as well as what it means to make art during the pandemic and what it means to be an artist right now.

Regarding her work, Cedar said, “My paintings and sculptures are primarily figurative and based on the way bodies move in space and relate to each other psychologically. They often focus on absurd and uncanny moments between people or groups of people.”

“What I spoke to Emily’s class about was a lot of challenges in the beginning of this time for all of us in the world, and just thinking about what it looks like to be in quarantine was, I feel like, a hurdle enough. There was a little New Yorker cartoon that I read at the beginning of quarantine, where they had a few people sitting on the couch. And the joke was, somebody saying, ‘I’m going to finish my novel,’ and, ‘I’m going to write this book’ and then somebody said, ‘I ate Cheetos today,’ it’s really hard to make work when you’re focused on, you know, just the fact that the world is kind of falling apart around you.”

Cedar hosted and curated an art gallery, “Good Naked”, from her spare bedroom in Brooklyn. However, due to quarantine, the gallery could not operate. Cedar discussed her challenges as an artist and curator during quarantine. “Luckily, my studio is at home. So I was able to really focus on making it in a very private and vulnerable way. I felt really thankful, in the end, to have all that time and space. I ended up thinking a lot about things that I wouldn’t have necessarily given myself permission to think about because it just felt like a quiet time when no one’s focus was really on the work. So I could just really explore and experiment in a way that maybe I hadn’t when I was trying to hustle to produce constantly and to show my work more regularly,” said Cedar.

In the lecture, Cedar also discussed what it means to be an artist at this time. “A huge priority in being an artist just in general is, you know, to make work certainly, but also to share it and to be connected to a community of artists and with my own practice, and with the gallery I’ve always felt that like, tactile social experiences are of the utmost value,” said Cedar.

Cedar elaborated by talking about how these “tactile social experiences” can happen during a pandemic. “During this time, a lot of those things were just rendered impossible because we can’t really socialize safely in the same way that we could before my apartment, I was running out of my home in the second bedroom, so I can’t really invite people over in groups the way that I could before. And so I had to really rethink how to make all these things happen, so like virtual shows was one opportunity. I felt like it was really essential to think about how do we make this not just a list of images online, how do we make it still feel like a social experience. So whether it’s like a zoom opening, or like a dance party, that is in virtual space, or like some of the artists built worlds in unity.”

Working with Cedar, Lambert created a gallery on Lambert’s field in Peterborough, New Hampshire. “We hung paintings in the trees, Lynn [Richardson] installed her sculptural piece in the grass and in the field, and we had sculpture all outside. We’re going to bring a selection of that work to the Carroll House [Gallery]. It will be opening next week, and it will be on view until sometime in November,” said Lambert.

In a usual semester, visiting artists giving lectures to students would be very common, however, due to the pandemic, there has been a challenge in having these lectures happen. “I think it’s so important to think about how artists view the world and to think about different ways of seeing the world and different ways people create and what inspires them to make things and every artist has a unique voice and a unique take on the world and how they channel that through their, through their making,” said Lambert.

Lambert further discussed these ways of seeing and creating, saying, “Jaqueline Cedar has a very rich sketchbook practice, like she sketches and hers, she draws in her sketchbook all the time and uses that as a way to generate ideas that become paintings or become, you know, larger drawings or different kinds of things.”

Lambert also talked about how these practices are important for art students to see, “As a teacher, I think that seeing that progression, and that an artist will show you not just the final project or product, but the steps and the process that leads you to create that final product, and I think that that’s really important for students to think about and to learn about I think, as an artist, in general, it’s really important to listen to other artists speak, you learn so much, even if it’s not related, or even if you know you have your work is very different than that artists, you still can learn about the creative process through what they’re making,” said Lambert.

Pieces from the outdoor gallery that Lambert and Cedar curated will be on display in the Carroll House Gallery starting next week, and will be on view until mid-late November. For more information on Jaqueline Cedar, visit For more information about future art lectures, visit the Keene State event calendar.


Tom Benoit can be contacted at:

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