In 2009, New York-based photographer Sarah Trigg embarked on a three-year journey that would take her from San Francisco to the Wisconsin peninsula to Houston, Tex.
“If I had known exactly how long it was going to take, I’d never have had the guts to do it,” Trigg told Business Insider.
What she ended up with was a book, “Studio Life,” which came out toward the end of last year. It’s about the ways artists behave in their studios, and the strange objects they sometimes keep, from a vial of soy sauce made of human hair to a warehouse full of plastic toys.
Trigg began thinking of the importance of the studio to an artistic life in 2008, when she had to move out of a studio that she’d occupied for a decade. For her book, she photographed the studios of artists at different career stages, in different locations, and who were making different types of art. 100 made it into the book; the rest of of her photos will eventually make their way onto her website Goldminer.
“I specifically didn’t shoot the art or the artist,” Trigg said. “There’s a lot of documentation of that elsewhere. I wanted to show the hidden things in an artist’s studio and what artists talk about when they visit each other.”
Check out some of the unexpected things Trigg found.
Toys in the warehouse
Trenton Doyle Hancock has a warehouse-sized studio in Houston, Tex. that’s full of toys. He said it helps him reconnect to a time when he was more open and receptive to things, like in childhood. Hancock at first thought he would become a comic book artist and that reconstruction of childhood has stayed with him in his large-scale prints and drawings.
A goddess lamp to ward off thieves
Brooklyn-based artist Lauren Luloff keeps this Asian goddess lamp lit in her studio 24/7. She started this habit after her space got broken into the one night she turned the lamp off. Leaving the lamp on became a ritual to protect her studio.
A money tree
This money tree was a gag gift for Mindy Rose Schwartz‘s father on his 40th birthday. The Chicago-based artist took it for her studio, which is chock-full of objects from home and flea markets (her art deals largely with representations of domestic space). Schwartz joked to Trigg that whenever she’s annoyed with her father, she trims a few dollars from the plant.
Bees in a trailer
Rob Keller‘s work involves constructing dollhouses and letting different species of bees loose in them. The northern California-based artist then studies how they interact with the dollhouse and documents the bees’ strengths. He bridges the gap between art and science, according to Trigg. Keller keeps his bees in a separate trailer and hosts workshops there. With the bee population dwindling, Keller likes to contribute to that discussion.
A secret room
When artist Daniel Arsham was living in Miami, a bunny showed up at his door. He named it Oliver and kept it in his studio. His resident bunny stayed with him when he moved to New York City. When Trigg visited his space, she crawled up a tiny shaft and discovered this secret room, which reminded her of a bunny’s nest in a rabbit hole. Arsham doesn’t live in the space anymore because it’s a fire hazard, but he keeps it made up as a burrow for storage and meditation.
Soy sauce made from human hair
Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo works with unusual things in pop culture. He heard about an urban legend that some restaurants in China were selling soy sauce made of human hair, so he wanted to figure out how to produce his own. He poured acid over some strands of his own hair that breaks it down to amino acids. Lobo tried it on sushi and said it was good, just a little oily, according to Trigg.
A television screen that lit a chair on fire
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