Arts Post
Posted at 03:45 PM ET, 07/21/2011

Artist Explained: Isabel Manalo of The Studio Visit

Isabel Manalo is on a mission to make an artist’s creative process as understandable as possible.

The result is her web journal The Studio Visit , a site that takes art newbies and critics one step further into the art world and gives viewers a peek into the life and creative space of an artist. Created in 2008 by Manalo, a visual artist who is a former American University professor, the site has reached beyond its Washington origins and has profiled artists from Atlanta to Peru, and several locations in between. “[The Studio Visit] was more of an idea that I wanted to go out and start to get reconnected with the Washington D.C. art community, and do studio visits rather than just feeling more connected to… colleagues, friends, people that I admire outside of the art opening contacts,” she says. Here, Manalo discusses her favorite part of working with the site and her hopes of demystifying the artist.

Visual artist Ashley Williams in her studio in Charlottesville, Va. (Photo by Wes Milholen)

“ I love…the collaboration with the artist, when I’m actually doing a studio visit, conducting one, asking the questions, doing the video. I love that part. ... And I guess the takeaway, if I were to say, I feel like we are doing a really good service for the art community. First, for the artist, I feel like we are giving them some coverage in terms of press. Also, we are giving a service to people who most – a lot of people don’t have the time or the energy or whatever, for whatever reason, to go into an artist’s studio.”

“You know, you don’t really see what goes on behind the object, the curated vision. So that’s really part of our mission, is to really reveal and demystify what occurs in an artist’s studio. And what you see is that we are completely normal people, and we’re just as hardworking and – there’s nothing like, totally dramatic that you feel like Hollywood likes to portray in terms of how we function in our studio.”
Williams in her studio in Charlottesville, Va. She creates evolving images that involve animals, plants and minerals. (Photo by Wes Milholen)

“The vision of [TSV], ultimately, is – first, virtually, is to have a global reach. In terms of community is to create more educational programming such as the Art Critique series. That is a series [that] involves 3 or 4 artists. We do a call, first come, first serve. And so each critique has a guest critiquer, or as I like to say, “critter.” Each artist hangs [his] work. We spend about 20 minutes to a half-hour on each artist, and we have a dialogue. And the audience, even those who are not showing their work, are able to get engaged and involved. We’ve gotten a great response in terms of how people feel…it’s critical, yet it’s constructive, and it’s also community-driven. It’s building community.”

HANDOUT PHOTO: Image of Isabel Manalo, creator of the web journal The Studio Visit. (Photo by Brandon Webster) (Courtesy of Isabel Manalo - Courtesy of Isabel Manalo)
“If you’re coming to the site, hopefully you’ll come to it with an open mind. Watch the video, look at the photos, and then read the article in the hopes that you’ll be able to kind of connect to - first of all that artists’ ideas, etc., their studio; and then also with the interviewer and their point of view. Hopefully they’ll be able to leave it, depending on who they are, with a degree of appreciation for the artists and their process.So that’s really what I’m hoping, that a viewer will do once they navigate through the site. It will inspire them to actually get out and go see some art, go see some lectures, participate with the art critique and just contribute to making the art community more vibrant.

I just want people to get to know artists for real and realize that we’re normal.”

The Studio Visit is hosting an Artist Critique on July 27 at Pleasant Plains Workshop. For more information, visit

By Erin Williams  |  03:45 PM ET, 07/21/2011

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company