In difficult times, we often turn to artists to help us make sense of it all. But where do those artists go to find their inspiration? We asked six RL family members—from regular contributors to a senior member of our design team—what’s driving them to create, and to share their latest work from quarantine. Here’s what they told us.
LYNDA CHURILLA, PHOTOGRAPHER
You might recognize Churilla’s work if you’ve visited a Ralph Lauren store or seen any number of the brand’s campaigns over the years, including this year’s International Women's Day series and the photographs of the Fall 2019 Ralph’s Club fashion show. From her home in the artists’ colony of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Churilla has been working with a new breed of subject: the magnolia trees and cherry trees that dot the landscape near her home. “I’m obsessed with them right now,” she says. That said, it took some time to adjust to the new normal. “I didn’t shoot for the first two weeks—I was distraught and scared,” she says. “But then I picked up my camera, and for the 30 minutes I’m shooting, it’s my refuge. I forget about everything else for those moments.”
Washington Square Park, March 31, 2020, 7:10 p.m.
Bleecker Playground, April 1, 2020, 7:11 p.m.
Javits Center, April 16, 2020, 10:48 a.m.; Park Avenue, April 13, 2020, 7:59 p.m.; Madison Street, March 30, 2020, 7:11 p.m.
Queensboro Plaza station, April 18, 2020, 6:22 p.m.
Waverly Place, March 29, 2020, 7:16 p.m.
Times Square, April 5, 2020, 6:32 a.m.; Grand Central Terminal, April 12, 2020, 5:51 p.m.; Apollo Theater, April 9, 2020, 7:25 p.m.
MARK SELIGER, PHOTOGRAPHER
During quarantine, Seliger—who has shot several RL campaigns as well as portraits of Mr. Lauren over the years—has trained his lens on New York City itself, using the Instagram hashtag #TheCityThatFinallySleeps. The images, which were commissioned by Vanity Fair, are beautiful yet also haunting, capturing oft-crowded landmarks without the usual human presence. “There’s a stillness,” Seliger says. This stillness has made him “hyperaware” he adds—hearing the birds sing outside his home in the West Village or seeing familiar architecture with fresh eyes. “I’m not really interested in the story of ‘See, there’s no people,’” he says. “It’s more like, ‘Look at what we have around us that we don’t always take in, the beauty that we don’t notice.”
DANIELA KAMILIOTIS, SVP FOR RALPH LAUREN COLLECTION
An artist, set and costume designer, and illustrator, Kamiliotis has used her time in quarantine to continue a long-running project: painting almost every surface of her studio in Bethel, Connecticut, with murals inspired by Picasso, Botticelli, Cocteau, and Matisse. “I work all the time wherever I am,” she says. “I am never not inspired.” She’s especially enjoying the novelty of spending an extended period at her studio. “I never saw the spring like this year, where every day I am following the growth of the bugs and the trees and the birds,” she says. Through her work, she is also able to do something otherwise forbidden: explore. “You don’t need to leave home if you are creating art,” she says. “Because with art, it’s almost like you are traveling with your mind.”
CARTER BERG, PHOTOGRAPHER
A backstage fixture at Ralph Lauren runway presentations and longtime contributor to RL advertising campaigns, Berg has been spending time in Millerton, New York, at his family’s weekend house. There, he’s been inspired by the region’s breathtaking natural beauty—and by one special companion in particular. “Let’s get to the crux: It’s a lot of pictures of my dog,” he says with a laugh. One image he’s captured of Cora—a Basenji mix that Berg and his wife adopted a few years back—encapsulates the spirit of the time. In it, she leaps over a stream, bounding confidently toward whatever awaits on the other side.
GORDON HARRISON HULL, CREATIVE DIRECTOR & ARTIST
The dynamic artist, who was previously an associate creative director for Ralph Lauren and has contributed regularly to The Polo App, has been keeping busy through a wide range of creative outlets, from playing guitar to reading Dashiell Hammett’s noir novels. But primarily, he says, he’s been making digital collages—often late at night after putting the kids to bed at his family’s home near Warwick, New York—and coloring book pages for children young and old. Asked for his inspiration, he mentions the restorative power of the countryside. “Being in an apple orchard is really good—the quiet of that with the absolute chaos of having two kids,” he says, before adding that “a lot of inspiration comes from nature, and a lot comes from the anxiety.”
TYLER KNOTT GREGSON, POET & PHOTOGRAPHER
“Montana’s pretty used to quarantine,” says the artist, half-joking, from his mountainside home near Helena. “My television is my door,” adds Gregson, who was among the performers and storytellers featured in a recent Ralph Lauren campaign. “I’m at the elevation where birds come and swoop and dive—you’re getting a bird’s-eye view of a bird.” A wedding photographer, Gregson watched summer bookings get canceled “like dominoes,” which gave him time to finish an upcoming (and still-untitled) book of poetry. “This idea of light permeates everything that I’m writing about and thinking about,” he says. “Either the abundance of it or the complete lack of it.” That theme, and the related message of hope, is as timely as ever. “As dark as it might seem sometimes, there is light and it’s on its way. Or it will be.”
PAUL L. UNDERWOOD is a former editor at Ralph Lauren. He is based in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and two children.