Sunday, June 16, 2024

Unimaginable Stories


The realities of others are unthinkable to us. Somewhere in the world a mother grieves, a community crumbles, war tears at the very fabric of daily life. At this very moment people are falling in love, welcoming brand new life into their arms, dancing joyfully. While you sit with the silence of a weekend morning, perhaps a cup of tea steaming before you on the table, there are an untold number of stories playing out across the globe. Every imaginable reality is taking place right now and it is impossible for us to fathom what they may be.

Daisy Craddock spoke to us from her studio on Bleaker Street in the West Village. At any given moment she is going in two directions. For her works on paper she is working on avocados and cantaloupes, summer fruits. Craddock says that to create her cantaloupes involves myriad layers. For the avocados she captures the oily, smooth quality of the fruit. This project, titled Fruit Diptychs, involves abstract renderings of the fruits. They fill the page with their essence rather than sit on display as still life. Craddock also works in conservation, a process that informs how she looks at a painting in an up-close, personal way. This goes a long way to explaining her diptychs which are the epitome of up-close and personal.

Craddock thinks about her paintings in terms of process. She is interested in what happens to them as she works. At times, the work speaks to the passage of time. Craddock may juxtapose unripe fruit with ripe fruit.

The second body of work that consumes Craddock grew out of her previously “painfully figurative” work. A series of life events and an accidental material find blossomed into this body of work capturing landscape. “I’ve been a painter of trees for 40 years,” she says.

It was around 15 years ago that Craddock gave herself permission to do something other than the trees. That was the moment when the diptychs began to evolve.

To hear more from Daisy Craddock, including how a work titled Pumpkin Plum impacted her own work, and how storage space changed the course of her practice, listen to the complete interview.

Elmaz Abinader is completing a novel at present titled Almost A Life. The story was inspired by her cousin’s fiancee who was forced to remain in civil war-torn Lebanon while he worked toward residency in the US. The fiancee left behind experienced the stark realities of war before eventually coming to the US and marrying Abinader’s cousin. At a party, Abinader asked how things were going only to receive the answer, “I miss the war.” This jump started her imagination.

The story centers around a woman who experiences war before moving the the US to be with a man she hasn’t seen in four years and the implications that might go along with these circumstances.

Abinader herself has spend time in the Middle East and Central America where tensions exist, but has no personal experience of wartime herself. For the book she did a tremendous amount of research in order to try to understand what wartime is like and what war does to a person. In order to construct the novel, Abinader had to construct the many layers of this story from the macro level down to the very intimate layer of the character herself.

Recently, Abinader encountered the woman who inspired the character who has raised her children here and asked how things are. The reply she received, “I am a stranger here.” Even after so many years–her cousin’s daughters are in college now–there is still the feeling of being an outsider, a stranger.

For the novel Abinader interviewed over 50 people. She says that at first people gave her “canned stories” but as she went back to them repeatedly their stories became more authentic. In one case, her doctor during treatment for thyroid cancer who came from Lebanon told her lighthearted stories of wartime for a long time. Eventually he unraveled and revealed that he lives with PTSD from the war.

To hear more from Elmaz Abinader including her take on how we can truly connect to stories like the one she tells, listen to the complete interview.


A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Take a moment to consider what stories are unfolding as you read these lines. Take a moment of gratitude for your own.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Daisy Craddock is reading The Gentleman From Moscow by Amor Towles. Elmaz Abinader is reading The Shape of Salt and Stars, a story about Syrian refugees, by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar.


Fulbright Fellowships are intended to support study and research across a broad range of fields. Creative and performing artists are eligible in several categories. In order to apply for Fulbright, applicants must apply through an academic institution they currently attend or through their alma mater if possible. If applicants are not able to apply through an academic institution, they must apply as “at large” candidates. Deadline for submissions is October 9 at 5:00 pm Eastern Time. It is important to note the time as many foundations accept applications until midnight on the night of deadline. This is not the case with Fulbright. For complete details, visit the Fulbright website.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

Sponsor: Whitney Museum of American Art – David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night. Jul 13–Sep 30, 2018. Beginning in the late 1970s, David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, and activism.



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