Montgomery Art Association

Bonnie Carlson's "Empty Chairs" Series: Thoughts on a Pandemic

27 May 2020 3:30 PM | Martina Sestakova (Administrator)

By Bonnie Carlson 

I started to think about chairs on a walk about a month ago. I saw empty park benches, cafes with no one at them, no one in line to buy a movie ticket to sit in the soft, red velvet chairs of a theater, and even, on returning home, the chairs in my own living room, where we sit, but where we can invite no friends to join us.

I wanted to express what those empty chairs meant to me, both for better and worse: the lost jobs, shuttered businesses, the inability to sit with a friend, the loss of a friend to this terrible virus and the chair he or she will never sit in again. I thought of hospital waiting rooms where families cannot wait to see their loved ones, and so many patients coming through and sitting in chairs waiting for a lifeline.

But not all of my thoughts turned to loss. I look at the chairs in my home, or the chairs at the table in my back yard, and I plan for our return to the day when we can safely meet, and think how sweet that time will be – a barbecue, maybe a birthday party, where little kids’ legs dangle from the too-tall chairs, party hats on, waiting for the pizza. It might be a wedding delayed that we can all finally celebrate at together, taking a chair or sliding into a pew next to a beloved aunt, leaning in and taking her elbow to say hello to her as we wait for the bride to come down the aisle.

Some of these chairs are a memorial to those who will not sit in them again, but others are a plan for the return of friends and family. These chairs are an invitation to sit a spell, have a seat, or to enjoy coffee and a slice of cake, balanced on a knee, sitting in the living room with the one you have missed the most.

This pandemic will not last forever. And when it ends, when we have a vaccine or a treatment, there’s a chair here, and it’s waiting for you.

Currently all paintings are untitled. They are 8" x 8" acrylic on canvas.

All rights reserved. Bonnie Carlson. 

© 2019 Montgomery Art Association Inc., PO Box 2154, Kensington, MD 20891

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