Switching Spaces: A Studio Visit with Carol Ivey

by Jessica Fuentes March 5, 2022

As a child, Carol Ivey moved around a lot. While her father wasn’t in the military, he was instead, according to Ivey, “kind of a dealer.” The family could be happily living in their home, not necessarily looking for a change, but if someone approached her father with a good offer for the property, he gladly sold. This meant that sometimes they packed their things and moved into a rental property they owned, because there wasn’t always a new home lined up for purchase. To me, someone who grew up with a much more stable family home, this sounds nerve-wracking, but to Ivey it was exciting and fun. (To be fair, the moves never meant she had to change schools or leave friends.)

“There’s a couple of places I’m nostalgic about, even today,” Ivey admits, “but, you know, life would go on. You just kind of keep moving, and that’s what I’m doing here,” Ivey says of her recent choice to move her studio. 

A photograph of the inside of an artist studio. There is a arched window that lets in a substantial amount of light. There are also multiple tables each with still life objects like dried plants and vases.

Carol Ivey’s Lancaster Loft studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

Ivey carried this sense of never staying in one place too long into her adult life, often moving residences and studios every few years until about 2008. I mention this to point out just how unusual it was for Ivey to remain in her most recent studio space, Lancaster Lofts, just southeast of downtown Fort Worth, for the past fourteen years. Last year, Ivey sat down with Christopher Blay to talk about her early years as a painter in Austin and her artistic practice in general, so while I won’t go into that, it’s important to note that as a painter of still lifes, her physical studio space has shaped (and featured prominently in) her work.

“I have within me a rhythm, and if it weren’t for the charm of that building, I never would have been there that long,” Ivey says of her Lancaster studio.

A painting by Carol Ivey of her Lancaster Loft studio. The painting shows an arched window with a short bookcase below it. There are two chairs set facing each other and small table with a teapot. Large dried plants stand against one wall.

Carol Ivey, “Stepping Back,” 2018, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist.

In 2008, Ivey joined Lancaster Lofts, moving her studio from west Fort Worth to east and taking on the role of “lead-artist.” The move brought her studio closer to her home and gave her the opportunity to shape the goings-on of the artist studios hosted at this new site. As lead-artist, she was tasked with ensuring the studio spaces were leased, keeping a waiting list of potential artists, maintaining paper products in the common areas, serving as a liaison between the artists and management, and scheduling programs in the common gallery/classroom space. 

Over the years, the role shifted and Ivey found herself ready to step down and focus more on her own art practice. Focus, actually, is a key reason why after so many years Ivey felt it was time to move. The sounds of the outside world — traffic, emergency sirens — started creeping in and became a distraction that was hard to shake. In her street-facing ground floor studio on Lancaster, Ivey longed for uninterrupted time. 

Her friend and former Lancaster Loft artist Doug Blagg (the younger brother of Daniel and Dennis Blagg) now had a studio space above the Arts Fort Worth galleries, where a few other studios had recently become available. Everything was aligning and pointing toward a shift. Prior to her move, Ivey sought out an artist to take over her studio space and responsibilities at Lancaster. On the recommendation of Art Tooth, a local organization that partners with and creates opportunities for artists, she found a perfect fit with Michelle Cortez Gonzales. 

Then, in early January of this year, Ivey took on the task of packing up years of work and materials and settling into her new space, just down the hall and around the corner from Blagg. In the process, she’s had the opportunity to revisit old works and re-curate her files. “I’m creating a burn pile,” Ivey says half-jokingly. “It’s liberating! Some things are art but most things aren’t,” Ivey says, referring to life drawings and instructional sketches. 

A photograph of artist Carol Ivey sitting in her studio. A large-scale painting sits behind her.

Carol Ivey in her studio at Arts Fort Worth.

A photograph of the interior of Carol Ivey's studio at Arts Fort Worth. The image shows a blue and white floral patterned chair sitting in front of a window.

Photograph of a chair in Carol Ivey’s studio.

Although part of the act of moving is about starting anew, there were definitely aspects of her past studio that Ivey was sure to bring over, including favorite pieces of furniture, a few beloved dried plants, and a “bridge” painting that was started at Lancaster and will be finished in the new space. Her intention was to finish the painting prior to the move, but now it will serve as a transitional work. 

A photograph of still life items sitting on a table top. Harsh light comes in through the window casting long shadows.

A table top in Carol Ivey’s Arts Fort Worth studio.

As a consequence of the new studio space, for the first time in decades Ivey will be working from southern (rather than northern) light. To non-painters, this may sound like a trivial matter, but northern light has long been heralded as a superior natural light source. It allows for indirect light to enter a room and reflect from various surfaces and provides subtle shifts in light throughout the day, rather than dramatic shadows that shift throughout the day. But, true to form, Ivey is embracing this change. 

“That’s the thing about this space, it affords me a whole new chapter. It’s delighting me. Like, those cast shadows from these vertical blinds are interesting,” Ivey says as she points to the wall behind me. “I think some different and more conceptual work is going to come out of it. This is part of moving every now and again. I adapt to new spaces and kind of mine them.”

A photograph of vertical cast shadows falling on a wall in an artist's studio.

Cast shadows on the wall of Carol Ivey’s studio.

Aside from the shift in light source, Ivey also points out the geometry found in and around her studio. The parking garage across the way and the angular shadows entering the space in the afternoon are all fodder for potential works to come. But, Ivey is measured when discussing what’s next. She hints that with the new studio will come new or maybe revisited ways of working.

The one specific thing Ivey does share is her interest in painting a light fixture that she’s been holding on to for a number of years. She is intrigued by how the light coming through her new window transforms the fixture and suggests to me that it just might inspire a painting. “I’ve got some new paintings in mind. You’ll see,” she says with a playful smile.

A photograph by artist Carol Ivey of a floral light fixture sitting on a table top. Harsh light casts dramatic shadows on the table.

Light fixture on table with cast shadows. Image courtesy of Carol Ivey.


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sydney yeager March 6, 2022 - 08:50

It’s nice to visit with you long distance, Carol! I love the last line of the article”You’ll see” !

Ilika Margi March 6, 2022 - 11:42

Carol, such a lovely article! And, the light is reason enough to move!
All the best

jill wilkinson March 7, 2022 - 21:42

Hi, Carol!
I was so happy to read about you and your studio spaces.
Jill Wilkinson

alisa mersky March 14, 2022 - 11:48

Carol, such a treat to read about you!

Michelle Locke March 16, 2022 - 09:32

Hi Carol!
What a pleasure to see your name ‘in print’! It’s nice to see what you are doing and to follow you on Glasstire!
Michelle Locke


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