Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Interview and Apartment Art

There is a very, very kind interview with me on the SCBWI website here.

If you read it, or if you're finding this blog from it, the subway-card butterflies are worth explaining in more detail. Lori asked me if I had any hobbies, and I said yes, I like to make art out of subway fare cards, which in NYC are called MetroCards. MetroCards are made from a thin, flexible plastic that keeps its shape if you bend it -- I make the butterflies by folding the cards in half and cutting out a butterfly wing from the fold, then balancing the butterfly on the fold with tape. There are six of them (plus a dragonfly) perched around my apartment, and they really do look like they could take off any moment. . . .

As for the mural, I missed trees after I moved to New York, so I bought green and brown paper at a nearby stationery store and created my own forest on the wall of my studio apartment. (This picture was taken on a day when I was having my book group over for dinner, hence the highly unusual neatness.) I love Henri Matisse, and the far tree on the left is made from cut-paper shapes like the collages he created at the end of his life -- I'd love to redo the whole mural this way (it's nearly four years old now), but I haven't had time to work on it. (In passing, many, many manuscripts have been edited or read in that big yellow chair.) There's a bright red kite with a MetroCard star on the next tree from the left; a bird cut from a NYC subway map on the rectangular tree in the middle; Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 nailed to the trunk of the next tree over, inspired by "As You Like It" (though I replace it with "Since there's no help" when I'm feeling romantically depressed); and an origami cicada and a MetroCard canary on the tree on the right. And then there are paper and MetroCard flowers, apples, vines, stars, even a snake (because this is a garden) in odd and unexpected places around the rest of the apartment. The installation as a whole is called "Brooklyn Arden," whence also the name of this blog.

This is what I said to Lori about it: "The artwork in my apartment is all intuitive, but there ends up being a kind of rhythm and balance to it -- I have stars here so I need flowers there, MetroCards here so I need paper there -- in much the same way I try to figure out a manuscript's rhythm and balance, I'll say, to bring this back to editing. This will sound completely cheesy, but in both things I want to have beauty and life and joy." And it's true.


  1. Cheryl--

    Question: Did you miss your stop on Monday? J and I were coming home from printing my thesis (!), and he thinks he noticed you as we passed another car on our way out of ours. Knowing you as we do we figured the book you were reading was so good you forgot where you were. If so, what was it?

  2. Very lovely interview. And nice to learn the genesis of Brooklyn Arden.


  3. Meredith -- nope, that must have been someone else! I finished THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE but haven't moved on to anything particularly involving yet.

    Congratulations on your thesis! Woo-hoo!

  4. Cheryl! Hello and hello!

    I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your paper mural. What a delight! Could you post a close up of one of the Metro Card butterflies? I'd love to be able to make one and add it to my paper toy website. I have "Penny Butterflies" there and yours would be a nice addition.

    Thanks again for sharing,

    Best thoughts,



    "Abrideri et Oblectare"

    "To Amuse and Delight"

  5. Gorgeous.

    You're verbal AND visual.