Rebecca Cosenza: That is, Makeshift and Mine

Joan Prepping for a Summer Party, Switzerland. Cyanotype, 2018.

Joan Prepping for a Summer Party, Switzerland. Cyanotype, 2018.


Steeped in sunlight on the first heatwave of the season, we descended upon Rebecca Cosenza's home studio in Germantown, NY; someone we know well, and get the pleasure of working with weekly at Instar. We found prints on coffee filters, alternative photographic prints, and all other sorts of treasures.  No surprise, except that perhaps giving an artist an opportunity to share their own words it's impossible not to be surprised!

In her own words ...

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My name is Rebecca Sienna Cosenza.

Three names.

Three syllables.

Each name has seven letters

And end in

The letter



 What's your favorite color?

Earth pigments, those umberssiennas, and ochres

hazy grey-blue and the shades of amber at golden hour

A Cafe in Vienna. Manipulated CYMK Gum Print, 2018.

A Cafe in Vienna. Manipulated CYMK Gum Print, 2018.

Name three of your favorite books:

  1. Poetics of Relation, by Edouard Glissant

  2. Writing Women's Worlds, by Lila Abu-Lughod

  3. The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran


Makeshift and Mine: Home Studio feat. Velvet Couch, Black Madonna, and a Cat named Baci

Makeshift and Mine: Home Studio feat. Velvet Couch, Black Madonna, and a Cat named Baci

Artists that Inspire:

Jenny Saville for her movement away, towards, and through beautiful bodies, 

and her memory of touch.

Carmen Amaya for her duende, her technique, and her pants.

 Njideka Akunyili Crosby for her process and storytelling.

Stone Cutting, Backyard.

Stone Cutting, Backyard.

What is an artist?  

an interpreter,

a translator,

an educator at times.                                                                                                                    What is art?

Art is relation, in constant flux. 

Art is communication.

Art is translation between

idea and action,

material and object,

breathe and performance.



How do you define yourself as an artist? 

As a biracial artist. A visual artist.  A dancer. A collaborator. I define myself as an artist through the objects I create, the dances I perform, the projects I am a part of, the communities I support. 

In the Painting Studio, SRC

In the Painting Studio, SRC

What was a pivotal project that shaped your practice? 

My portrait series of Kichwa women I worked and studied with in Ecuador as part of a linguistic ethnographic field site. Questions spilled from this project on the ways in which art can be used to bear witness to and hold space for others. 


On the constants in her practice: process. process in iteration. process as shown through form. the processing of memory. the process of being in place, out of place, holding place for someone or something. memory. movement. body, be it body in movement, body as form, or the memory of bodies.

On the value of art: Art is inherently relational. Where there is art, there is reaction. Where there is reaction, there is disruption. Where there is disruption, there is openness and opportunity. It is in this space that art spills through borders and creates the context for something else to occur.

Study of Loie Fuller in Atlas Mountains. Carbon Print, Digital Negative from iphone photo of Atlas Mountains., 2018.

Study of Loie Fuller in Atlas Mountains. Carbon Print, Digital Negative from iphone photo of Atlas Mountains., 2018.

Layered Fabric with Gum Prints, 2018.

Layered Fabric with Gum Prints, 2018.

What is your greatest challenge as an artist?


At this stage in my career,

allowing myself to continually redefine

what my artistic practice looks like as

I move between different studio spaces, mediums, and time schedules

—and remembering that mindfulness is as valuable as object making in a sustainable practice.

Color Scene of Lausanne from a Moving Train Window, 2018

Color Scene of Lausanne from a Moving Train Window, 2018

What has been a victory for you as artist?

In the car, in-between, on the way. I find I always come and go with a tobacco box filled with thread and paper, my portable studio.

In the car, in-between, on the way. I find I always come and go with a tobacco box filled with thread and paper, my portable studio.

Claiming and proclaiming myself as an Artist


Remote Dreams of Creation: An Interview with Artist Ruby Palmer

Original installation ideas laid out in the Ruby's studio, before being written into directions to be reconfigured later by students at SFCC

Original installation ideas laid out in the Ruby's studio, before being written into directions to be reconfigured later by students at SFCC

We recently interviewed local Hudson Valley artist, Ruby Palmer, to learn more about her exhibit, “Subject to Change: a remote installation.”

During the month of January, Palmer followed a similar process to artist Sol Lewitt, writing and mailing specific instructions for wall drawings and paintings to be executed by a team of faculty and students of Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) in Spokane, WA. Through this project, Palmer was able to explore a new meaning of what it is to create, by relinquishing control of her creation, by placing it into the hands of others and cooperatively imagining into its final form. The end results were better than she could have imagined.

IL: How has this project opened you and your practice as an artist?

The project was ALL about opening up. Since others were actually making and installing many of the ideas which I drew and designed, I had to completely reconsider how I approach making things.  I sent the team of instructors and students elements that I had made in my studio or at least chosen the colors for, and they assembled them with help from my written instructions. It was both exhilarating and challenging for me because I had to really get imaginative with hardware store materials and the given space, which I had never visited. I’ve always been curious about how instructions are written, and how to convey direction, whether it be in a cooking recipe or for IKEA furniture, and it’s a lot harder than I thought!

It was daydream-like in many ways. It actually parallels my creative process as I usually solve problems in my work through sleep or waking dream. I don’t work directly from my dreams, but I do have that moment when waking, where I “know” the answer to a problem. It’s usually a solid response that I trust.

In fact, the whole concept for “Subject to Change” came about that way. I went to bed thinking I couldn’t do an installation so far away, and I woke up with the idea to work remotely, turning it into a game with the students—giving them direction and they would interpret and make the ideas. The results were sort of incidental, and the hope was that they would learn a bit about my process through making.

IL: How do you measure success of this project?

The biggest feeling of success came from the students’ texts and emails to me expressing their enthusiasm and curiosity, and willingness to participate.

That was a relief for me, especially since we’ve never met! The final result was also interesting and dreamlike to see these images appear on my screens and realize I was responsible for them. 

 IL: What’s happening in your studio now?

I’m doing watercolor drawings in response to the Spokane project. I’m back to thinking about cutting into walls and floors and making compositions inside those shallow spaces. Since the opportunities are rare, I’m imagining them a lot.  I’m also continuing my “flower paintings” which I began last spring and are a departure in many ways, but are informing the other work. Who knows where they are going, but they satisfy my need for color, more voluminous shapes, more gesture and less hard edge geometry.

IL: It's not a secret, at Instar we love artist moms and are always interested in what that relationship is like. Can you tell us a little about your own experience of being a mother artist?

It’s a pretty big challenge and I am SO happy to have my kids in my life, I love them so much. I can’t work the way I used to, so I’ve adjusted, and my work has adjusted, for better and worse. Like, I have to leave all the dishes and piles of laundry and have a messy house.  Before I had kids I used to sit around contemplating my work a lot—too much, and now I really don’t have time—I’ve gotta get to the point. 

Ruby Palmer lives and works in Rhinebeck NY with her husband and twin daughters. Since 2016 she started and has run an artist lecture series at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff NY called ARTalks that runs monthly. Her work has been shown in NYC at Exit Art, Smack Mellon, Parallel Art Space, and Morgan Lehman Gallery, at Page Bond Gallery in Richmond VA, as well as Samuel Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, NY and Instar Lodge in Germantown, amongst others. Visit Ruby Palmer’s website to see her multi-disciplinary work. 

Ruby Palmer, “Subject to Change: a remote installation”, 2017 Spokane Falls Community College Art Gallery, Spokane, WA, Photo credit: Chris Billings

The Hidden Past of Now: An Interview with Artist Melora Kuhn

Melora in studio

Standing inside Melora Kuhn’s studio, one steps into her upcoming installation.  An other room, something imaginary with painted walls displaying both the unnatural version of nature and interior settings of some mysterious historical place, a grand trompe l'oeil. Deeper than that, it is a space within a space and moves your thoughts to a mind inside a mind.

Her work confronts modern issues through a historical lense. In past work, Kuhn displays the idea of a known scene confronting the unknown. In paintings such as The Interior Chamber, she moves the viewer from a setting in an interior room to a place where the walls are filling the room with water. Or, as seen in The Wolf’s Cry, dogs and wolves battle in a Habsburgian wilderness. Her art provokes themes of class, race, and unspoken histories that can too often be lost in the fondness for a past time.

“I love to play off of reality,” says Kuhn. “I want to understand the thinking system and hidden elements within it.”

Kuhn’s upcoming installation for the Eigen + Art gallery in Leipzig is being finished inside her studio, a converted red barn from the late 1800s in Germantown. As a resident of the area for the last eight years, she has seen not just the small community of Germantown grow, but the Hudson Valley as a whole bioregion. This cycle of renewal and change mirrors her work, but Kuhn’s influences stretch beyond the valley.

Melora's Barn

“The quiet helps you to go deeper in the work,” explains Kuhn. “But those daily interactions [among artists] are missing. It makes you need to seek them out more.”

The as-yet-untitled installation will be shown this spring at the Eigen + Art in Leipzig. Her installation expands her previous work into a fully immersive piece, with painted walls, furniture, and interactive elements.

“I’ve always painted 19th century rooms. Now, I’m making one,” Kuhn explains.

Melorakuhn installation

The scale of her installation, incorporating a fully enclosed room, pushes her to new ways of creation. While she would always mix her oil paints the need for consistency lead Kuhn to developing her own color palette using Benjamin Moore house paint.

“I had to with more space,” Kuhn says. “It was to save time and make the colors consistent.”


As she is putting the final touches on her installation, her work takes on, literally, a new dimension. She moves from paintings of a room to art as a room. This natural evolution of her work goes on to establish what she most wants a viewer to take away from her work.

“To unravel it. To find out where we are now,” says Kuhn.

Melora Kuhn’s installation will be on display at the Eigen + Art Gallery in Leipzig from April 22nd through May 27th. For more information, visit their website.

Reported by William Crane, images by Dawn Breeze for Instar Lodge.

Melora Kuhn was one of the inaugural artists exhibiting in Time & Again in August 2016