Friday, January 22, 2016

Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple

"Without art, you're dead!"

The opening line in Molly Crabapple's memoir, Drawing Blood, is a quote from her great-grandfather. Crabapple loved to draw from the time she could hold a crayon, but she hated being a child and describes that feeling of powerlessness very well.

Crabapple supported herself through art school and beyond as a model. She performed burlesque. She regularly attended an exclusive nightclub, where she sat in near-darkness, sketching the louche goings-on. She slept with men and women.

The point in Crabapple's narrative where I felt my interest kick into high gear was when she began using her art as a vehicle for activism. Her New York City apartment was right next to the site of Occupy Wall Street. In London, Crabapple bonded with feminist writer Laurie Penny. (I love Penny's work. If you haven't read her essays, go check out Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution.)

   "Unhealthily, we pored over conservative British message boards, where trolls talked about garroting Laurie to death, or tying me to a post and smothering me with shit. White men never seemed to provoke this sort of rage."
Poster by Molly Crabapple
Full colour artwork, like the teargas poster above, accompanies the text in Drawing Blood. If you want to see more of Crabapple's work, I recommend her scenes from the Syrian War, viewable on her website.

   "Art is hope against cynicism, creation against entropy. To make art is an act of both love and defiance. Though I'm a cynic, I believe these things are all we have."

Drawing Blood is fiercely feminist and compelling.

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