Hello again from ChatterBlast’s Creative Director Matthew Ray! Welcome to the fourth installation of our 2021 post-pandemic blog series featuring some of Philadelphia’s most forward-thinking leaders. In case you missed them, check out our previous dives into the future of fashion, fitness, and retail. This week, we’re taking a look into the future of art and design with Anaïs Cooper-Hackman, former ChatterBlaster and current gallery manager at HOT•BED.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a nester. Over the years dorm rooms, AirBnBs and campsites have all been subjected to my colorful and often sentimental accoutrements. I lean towards visually stimulating vintage items over mass-produced contemporary decor, real plants over faux, candle light over recessed lighting—ESPECIALLY after dark.
So when quarantine became the answer to the encroaching global pandemic, I was looking forward to the prospect of spending a handful of weeks in my apartment. What I was not prepared for, however, was a quarantine that would last not weeks but months! What was once my sanctuary teetered on the razor-thin edge of imprisonment as the seasons changed from gloomy winter to lively spring. And in that time, where one of the few things I could feel good about was quite literally making my bed and lying in it, I dreamt of what the future might look like. Here’s my take, written from Spring/Summer 2021.
The Uncertain Times in 2020—a moniker for pandemic life coined by Kristin Detterline and inspired by the year’s most popular email intro (“I hope this email finds you well in such uncertain times…”)—taught us two things. The first is that stress baking is very real. The second is that many of us have been treating our homes as glorified storage units, brimming with empty plastic water bottles, art from the clearance section of Marshalls, and not much else.
In 2021, urban societies have been reborn. Bartering is back! A practice that has been part of the art world and intentional communities for many years reached the masses as stay-at-home orders persisted through the summer and fall months. Ready to finally give up that blender? Trade it for a sewing kit. Sick of spaghetti and meatballs, a.k.a. the only dish you know how to make? Swap it for your neighbor’s famous green curry. You could even share that meal (from a safe distance) and learn a few things about the person who sleeps on the other side of that party wall. As science fiction writer and healing justice facilitator Autumn Brown says, getting to know your neighbors is the best thing you can do in the face of an apocalypse.
People have turned away from the personality void designs of cheap mass-produced furniture, towards vintage and handmade pieces that last a lifetime. The switch came out of necessity after the black Ikea coffee table we’ve all been using as a desk, dining room table, craft station, and dance floor finally gave way and replacement parts became impossible to source. After spending a full year getting to know the light in our apartments, we’ve become fantastic gardeners and plant caretakers. Having plants around significantly improves our indoor environments, in fact “active interaction with indoor plants (like touching & smelling) can reduce physiological & psychological stress.” Now that’s something I think we can all get behind.
Social, cultural and professional experiences have taken a turn from overcrowded rooms to intimate affairs, carefully curated like Betty Draper’s dinner parties. We missed people and places so much in 2020 that in 2021, every conversation is filled with attentiveness. What used to feel like obligatory networking has turned into meaningful connection. Art and design services are sold somewhere between dinner and dessert.
2020 made us realize the importance of art in keeping people sane and inspired. In 2021, people are buying original art in droves. Philadelphia has garnered a reputation as one of the great art cities of the world thanks to new partnerships between galleries, artists, museums and art schools. Philadelphia’s strong neighborhood culture has proven to be a fantastic environment for the birth and development of diverse community-oriented spaces such as Power Street Theatre, Fleisher Art Memorial, and Philly PACK.
At HOT•BED we realize that artists are historians, recording the attitudes and experiences of a culture in real time. We’ve created a strong residency program for our studio members that supports the production of inclusive, sustainable and forward-thinking works of art. The future is bright.
If you enjoyed the cup of ice-cold intentional-living Kool Aid I just served up, consider one of these action items:
- Sign the petition to save Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund!
- Share your vision for the future by submitting to HOT•BED’s open call for artwork by June 1 2020 (all work will be accepted and everyone is encouraged to submit)
- Introduce yourself to your neighbor via a note in their mailbox 🙂