Daniel Ranalli (Drawing Fellow ’10) is at heart an environmental artist working conceptually. His snail drawings are evidence of one who explores and values the fragile impermanence of life. Let’s tread lightly and take a look into his studio.
I have now, by far, the best studio I have ever had. I live in a converted elevator factory in Cambridge and my studio, a darkroom and a small wood shop are all on the first level. Our residence is on the 2nd level – bright open space with a big east-facing skylight.
My wife, the painter, Tabitha Vevers has her studio on a mezzanine that overlooks our living space and it is like her private nest high in the sky. We like to say that our living area is sandwiched between our studios.
My studio is simple – concrete floor and visible heating ducts, sprinklers and electrical conduits. There are large windows facing north, which interest me less than the fact that twenty feet past those windows are the railroad tracks for the MBTA commuter line. When I was a kid I had a model train set in the basement and spent many hours making mountains and buildings and little villages for it. I can hardly remember ever actually running the trains on the track, but I loved the whole business of creating things for it.
Out my window the trains lumber past – only four or five cars long, and a big diesel engine. In the winter when it is dark during the commuter hours I love seeing the passengers moving past me. They are reading or talking and bathed in the warm yellow light – a Hopper painting that he never made.
At this stage I rarely use my darkroom. At first I was glad to be out in the light, and working more with a computer screen and digital gear (photography is at the core of a lot of my work), but that has become less appealing over time. On the other hand, all those toxic chemicals are now in the past for me. In recent years I have started tomato plants in my darkroom sinks.
What I never seem to have enough of is table surface and storage. When I am really working, and making larger pieces, I seem to run out of surface areas in no time.
Daniel is one of thirteen artists participating in the upcoming MCC Fellows Exhibition at the Tufts University Art Gallery.