Getting Away with Murder

When I see flashing lights through my rearview mirror, I panic. My heart beats faster and I feel scared. I know I’ve done nothing wrong, all my documentation is in order, but nonetheless, I feel frightened. Most often, the cop car passes, in pursuit of someone else...

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When My Novel Gets Published

Last weekend at a party, a friend asked, How’s the book? And I cringed, feeling small and absolutely defeated because it’s been so long! “I’m waiting to hear back,” I said, walking on.

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Outsider Art

George Wilson Outsider Art refers to art created outside the boundaries of official culture, outside the established art scene. I first heard the term Outsider Art about a month ago when I saw an interview on facebook.

The Outsider Art Fair is this week in New York City (January 21-24) at the Metropolitan Pavilion.

In a New York Times Magazine article, I learned about the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, where artists who have not had formal art education come to create. The work is considered more pure, raw, than mainstream art. Not always, but sometimes, the artists are physically or emotionally impaired.

George Wilson

In a Huffington Post article, Priscilla Frank discusses how a policeman learned to embrace his creative side.

Charles Sabba

I love this idea of self-taught art, art without academia.

Maybe it’s because in the eighties, I was accepted to the art program at NYU and things didn’t go well for me there.

In order to get in, I had to show a portfolio. I had to sit through a nerve-wracking interview. And when I got in, I was thrilled to be part of the New York City art community.

Until I wasn’t.

It didn’t go badly at first. In fact, during my first semester in the program, my drawing teacher appreciated and encouraged my style, which was heavily textured, strong contrast, little grey. And lots of white space. She didn’t judge the things I drew: a carrot peeler, an eggbeater, half a grapefruit.

You see I was 19, and newly married. That’s what I had in my apartment. That domesticity was my life.

My photography teacher showed black and white slides (with lots of grey) of a woman wearing a housecoat. This housewife was slumped on the couch, a broom near her side, a cigarette dangled from her lips. My teacher compared these photographs to my own, which told a different story of homemaking. In my photographs, my young son stood smiling and bottomless near a stacked dishwasher; and in a self-portrait, I proudly pushed out my pregnant belly.

The following semester, I had a male teacher. He was a prominent and respected figure in the school. He had a specific belief about art and artists. I didn’t fit into his schema. I was married with a child and I was economically well off, not a starving artist.

Soon enough I felt that I didn’t belong. I can’t tell you why he had such an influence over me but he did. And I learned years later, that he was fired because I wasn’t the only female student he’d bullied and shamed.

After I left the art program, I didn’t draw or paint for a long time. But years later, I made a few collages.

Corie Adjmi

 

Corie Adjmi

I’ve been thinking about drawing again, inspired by outsider art.

Slavery Today

BLOG-STOP CHILD TRAFFICKING NOWThis week, I found myself reflecting back to a day in1974. I was ten.

A friend, Vicky, and I walked in her neighborhood, near her house. A car pulled up and the driver called us over. He asked for directions. It took a few seconds before I noticed; he was exposed and stroking himself.

When the man drove away, Vicky and I ran and hid behind bushes. Peeking through the greenery, we watched as the man circled the block. He slowed, looking for us.

Petrified, we stayed out of sight. We waited for the man to drive away  again before we ran back to Vicky’s house. Her mother called the police and when they showed up, they asked us questions.

Looking back, I think we were awfully lucky. Crouching behind those bushes, in essence, made us sitting ducks. At the time, I weighed less than 90 pounds and, in my memory, the man who exposed himself to us looms large. The scary truth is that story could've ended differently.

Some kids are not as lucky. That unpleasant experience occurred just a few years before Etan Patz disappeared and he, and other missing children, appeared on milk cartons.

Those disturbing memories were elicited with the release of the movie, Room, based on the novel written by Emma Donoghue.

(I read the book, Room, a few years back and recommend it.)

The story is about a mother and son held captive in a small room. The book is fiction but it is based on a true story.

Here’s the thing that many people don’t know: Slavery exists today.

And it exists in many countries, including the United States. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states. Children are sometimes forced to work in brothels, in sweatshops, in houses as domestic servants, in wars as child soldiers, on farms and in strip clubs.

Putting a stop to all forms of child trafficking is critical to UNICEF's work around the world.

Stop Child Trafficking Now (also called SCTNow) is a nonprofit international organization that does advocacy work attempting to bring an end to child trafficking. SCTNow targets those who sexually abuse children and aims to prosecute and convict them.

Years ago, I read The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bals and Ron Soodalter. The Slave Next Door explores human trafficking and slavery that exists in the United States today.

The book is a call to action, letting us know what we can do to bring an end to these horrific crimes.

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In-Laws and Creative Living

BLOG-MOTHER IN LAWWe all know those mean mother-in-law jokes: What do you do if you miss your mother in law? Reload, and try again!

My mother in law is well balanced. She has a chip on both shoulders.

Is there a family relationship more burdened?

Tempting fate, I went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) with my daughter-in-law, Margo, last week. We went to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak about her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

 

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Margo is pragmatic. She is a nurse and scientifically minded. On our way to BAM, Margo rattled off a list of over 32 things she’d done that day, including errands in Brooklyn and New Jersey, tending to her children, helping with homework, meeting with a painter and just before leaving her house, giving an injection to a pregnant friend.

I, on the other hand, tinkered with a story idea for most of the day.

And to tell you the truth, I was feeling a bit down about that. It is hard to stay home, facing an empty screen and have what appears to be nothing accomplished at the end of the day. Of course, I know this is not really true but Elizabeth Gilbert’s message couldn’t have come at a better time. She assured the creative souls in her audience that we were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing and she encouraged us to keep at it.

She talked about fairy dust and inspiration but she also talked about hard work and perseverance.

She talked about the voices in her head, how they take up space and how she lets them come alive: The Doubter, The Critic, Fear—and while that process didn’t sound so crazy to me, Margo diagnosed her with multiple personality disorder.

You’re probably wondering why my not necessarily artsy daughter-in-law wanted to hear Elizabeth Gilbert talk about creativity, especially considering she is one of the few people in the world who didn't even read Eat Pray Love. Or see the movie.

This is how it happened.

I was supposed to be going to the BAM with my husband but he forgot and bought tickets to the Giants game.

I invited my daughter but she opted out.

My son, Margo’s husband, was going to the football game with his dad and Margo didn't want to stay home. I promised her a drink after the reading and let’s just say it didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting.

My oldest daughter kept smirking, doubting the whole prospect.

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But she was wrong; because while Margo and I are not exactly alike (I drink vodka, she drinks tequila) we both loved the event, and the hole-in-the-wall bar we found afterwards with live music. Granted, it was a bit awkward when two men started talking to us but we left soon after and found a great restaurant. I know I’m in the right place when there are vegan options on the menu.

It’s not always easy for us to find time to get together much less share intimacies. But that night, we learned new things about each other.

A mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law: loving each other, respecting each other, caring about each other.

Now that’s art.

That’s Big Magic.