When local studio potter Lorna Meaden joined Studio & as the newest member-owner in January, little did she – or the four other member-owners at the gallery – know that within weeks, things would come to a grinding halt because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, closing schools for the rest of the semester, shuttering theaters and music venues and closing retail businesses.
Fortunately for Studio &, the group of five member-owners had been working on building up the gallery’s online presence before the global pandemic sent everyone home and online.
“The five of us who are the core members of &, before all this pandemic stuff happened, we made it one of our goals for this year to have a bigger online presence and really focus on our online shop, so we were planning that anyway,” Meaden said. “We felt really good about having sort of a jump-start on it before all this hit in March. ... That’s helping, but we still have a long way to go.”
Meaden first became involved at the gallery through a group ceramics exhibition in April 2013 called “Definitive Marks: Four Perspectives in Clay.” She has been a represented artist with the gallery since November 2016.
Meaden has lived in Durango for the better part of 30 years. Like many people here, she moved to Durango to attend Fort Lewis College. In the years since, she’s left to travel, learn and participate in artist-in-residence programs – and she’s always returned.
Since the pandemic shut pretty much everything down, Meaden said she has had the opportunity to really dig in and focus on her work.
In her pottery, Meaden works primarily with porcelain. Once she shapes her pieces, she uses a process called “soda firing,” where soda ash mixed with water is sprayed onto pieces in the kiln. The mixture coats everything and changes the look of the glazes, like the colors and the surfaces of the pots, teapots, tumblers, juicers and other items she creates.
Meaden’s also taken up jewelry-making, having been learning silversmithing in the last year.
“I was working at the Gem & Mineral Club, which is also now closed,” she said. “I set up a jeweler’s bench in the downstairs of my ceramics studio, so I’m also focusing on that more, too. I’m just going to up my studio-artist game with the jewelry-making also.”
For now, Meaden is getting geared up for an online Mother’s Day sale, which will go live Wednesday on her website, she said, just in time to ship work to arrive for Mother’s Day.
And while Studio &’s brick-and-mortar shop is closed for now, and the workshops she had set up in far-flung places have been canceled or rescheduled, between the gallery’s online shop and Meaden’s website – and possibly trying her hand at online teaching – there’s a lot to keep her busy, including working with her fellow gallery member-owners to help support Durango’s arts community.
“While the five of us at Studio & look forward to the gallery returning to being the hub it once was for local art enthusiasts to gather, we are going to be both innovative and conscious in our efforts to see the gallery evolve and reopen in a step-by-step way post-COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “We are committed to being there to serve our clients and continuing to be the resource and support for local artists that we have always been.”
The arts, Meaden said, have helped get us through the past few months, and, even more, they help form who we are as societies.
“There was a thing going around on Facebook of people saying, ‘Thank you to all of the artists and writers and performing arts people during this crisis because imagine what it would be like to stay home without movies to watch and books to read,’ I thought that was a pretty interesting thing,” she said. “It enriches our culture on so many levels, and I think this crisis has changed people’s perspectives in so many ways.”