A New York artist and writer’s illustrated memoir about how she rose out of obscurity during the tumultuous decade of the 2000s to become a renowned artist.
New York native Crabapple, a contributing editor for Vice, grew up with loving parents in comfortable circumstances. Yet from the time she was a young girl, she felt trapped by her childhood and yearned for the freedom to explore the world. Crabapple left for Paris at 17, where she lived among bohemians at the legendary Shakespeare and Company bookstore and traveled around Europe and North Africa. When she returned, she began college at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she drew compulsively, studied exotic cultures, and became involved in political movements that emerged in the aftermath of 9/11. Crabapple turned to “the naked girl business” to support herself and earned money first as an artist’s model and then as a goth-inspired SuicideGirl and, later, as a dancer and burlesque performer. In the meantime, her artistic talent blossomed. Yet the author realized early on that making it in the art world wasn’t just a matter of being good: it was also about “getting noticed.” In 2008, Crabapple became house artist for The Box, a NYC nightclub catering to elite clients. She earned recognition and monetary rewards for artwork that satirized the excesses of the rich, yet her achievements left her feeling hollow. The world outside The Box was collapsing while she "was painting pigs in Nero's nightclub.” After meeting up with journalist Laurie Penny and becoming involved in the Occupy movement, Crabapple discovered her true calling as a political artist and, later, writer. Lavishly illustrated, the book offers a candid portrayal of an artist’s journey to self-knowledge and fulfillment. The author celebrates the function of art as an act of “hope against cynicism [and] creation against entropy.”
Compelling reading about how art gave the author “a way to see, to record, to fight and interrogate…to find joy where once I could see only ash.”