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Constellations No. 2
Constellations No. 2 arrives in your inbox today, on summer solstice eve. Tomorrow the sun will shepherd in the longest day of the year to mark summer’s long-awaited return.
The last few months have flown by. I was busy making storefront portraits of Northern Michigan’s American Spoon shops, vineyard maps of Napa’s Burgess Cellars, and traveling back to the Bay Area to see dear friends and visit favorite old haunts. I also squeezed in a spontaneous weekend in Chicago with friends - we spent our days walking through the neighborhoods, eating great food and visiting one of my favorite museums, Art Institute of Chicago. I spent time in the museum’s encompassing Cezanne retrospective, which was an unexpected way to revisit my college study abroad summer in Aix-en-Provence, and thought a lot about two of my art heroes, Maira Kalman and Lois Dodd. You can read more about that on my journal right HERE.
Back at home in Northern Michigan, life this time of year is positively abuzz. It’s easy to get swept away in the brink-of-summer energy that is all around me in the natural world, in my family life, in my community, and beyond (it often feels like living in a timelapse nature documentary: hills awakened with vibrant greens, trillium and lady’s slippers popping up from fern laden forest floors, velvety meadow grasses bowing to an invisible paintbrush). Immense growth brings with it all the highs of possibility, and also a certain complexity. The moment is so fleeting that I want to move fast to experience it all; I also want to move in slow motion so that I can really see the tiny and monumental changes afoot. Navigating this energetic split can be challenging.
As it happens, the last few months, the word yielding has come up over and over in conversations, lingering in my brain through the seasonal shift. The word has so many implications: yielding to demands of a moment or circumstance, to the needs of another, or of the self. Slowing one thing down to let another move forward. Forefronting flexibility, releasing rigidity. Bending a bit, and trusting in the potential of a pause.
I read once that “stice” in the word solstice is derived from the Latin sistere meaning “to stand still.” So, like the sun’s annual mid June stance, my goal for the summer is to try to stand still a bit more often, to focus my energy on patience, pausing, and looking closely.
On that note, I’m taking an intentional break from social media for a little while, but in the meantime I’d love to hear from you. Please don’t be a stranger!
Wishing you a fruitful summer, friends - however you define it.
WHY WE COOK WINS
2022 NAUTILUS BOOK AWARD
In May, I received wonderful news:
Why We Cook is the winner of the 2022 Nautilus Book Award Gold in Food, Cooking, and Healthy Eating!
Since 1999, Nautilus Book Awards have celebrated and honored "books that support conscious living & green values, high-level wellness, positive social change & social justice, and spiritual growth." This award is an honor that I wholeheartedly share with each person who contributed to the book, as well as my agent Kate Woodrow, my wonderful editor Rachael Mt. Pleasant, and the whole lovely team at Workman Publishing. To read more about the history and mission of Nautilus Book Awards, and view the full list of award winners, head right over here.
IN MY KITCHEN LATELY
If we’ve shared a meal together in the last few months then you know I have been experimenting with eliminating foods from my normal diet to get to the bottom of a few pesky health issues (no dairy, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, nuts or refined sugar!). I know, I know - at first glance that sounds like a lot. Indeed, creating new habits in my eating life was a big shift for the first few weeks. But now that I’m going on three months, it is increasingly intuitive by the day. Plus, the improved way that I feel on the daily is inspiration enough to keep going. Amy Chaplin’s wonderful book, Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Refined Sugar, (Artisan, 2019) has been a huge resource while I've delved into new routines. Full of adaptable recipes and replicable techniques that are practical and pleasurable, it has made me forget that I’m eliminating anything at all.
Watercolor and ink illustration of Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin (Artisan Books, 2019), with Photographs by Anson Smart, art direction and cover design by Michelle Ishay-Cohen.
A BRIGHT LIGHT
Since 2015, art historian, curator and broadcaster Katy Hessel has been running an Instagram account @thegreatwomenartists, devoted to celebrating historic and contemporary women artists. Her podcast, The Great Women Artists, now in its seventh season, has become one of my favorites to listen to on my frequent drives through Northern Michigan's countryside. Her interviews with fellow art historians cover artists whose names are often new to me (which proves her point entirely) and I always learn something new - from context about time period or sweeping art historical movements, to tidbits about each artist's unique life and interests. Hessel's passion for the topic is infectious - I usually end up looking up the artist she's covered immediately after I've parked the car. Some of my favorites so far are her episodes on Toyin Ojih Odutola, Cassi Namoda, and Alice Neel. I can't wait to check out Hessel's book The Story of Art Without Men (Penguin), which is due out this September, and available to pre-order now.
NOW AVAILABLE IN THE SHOP : SIGNED BOOKS!
Signed copies of Why We Cook are now available in my shop! If you've been hoping for a signed copy, now's your chance. If you would like a special message written in your book, just drop me a note in your order, or email me. In the shop, you'll also find illustrated tea towels, archival art prints and prints of my Sunyashnkiki paintings, made in late February during the onset of war in Ukraine. 100% of the proceeds from these print sales will continue to go to World Central Kitchen and Unicef's humanitarian efforts in Ukraine indefinitely. Bonus for newsletter subscribers - use code CONSTELLATIONS22 at checkout to receive 10% off of your order.
If you're looking for me this summer, you'll most likely find me doing precisely what I was doing in this photo, taken in 1986 by my Mom in the treehouse my brother built in our back yard. That perfect combination of food, family, friends and the outdoors, plus often swimming, spontaneity and sunsets - what's not to love about a picnic? Turns out not much has changed since I was six - except for that bowl cut, thankfully.
Wishing you and yours a very happy summer, wherever your picnics take you.