Women in Public Art, my essay in World Literature Today

My essay about the movement to increase representations of women in monumental public art was published by World Literature Today:

San Francisco, where I live, is, on par with Seville, a popular tourist destination. As a writer, I often wonder what images of the city people carry away from their visits here. Perhaps it’s the fog curling over the Golden Gate Bridge. Perhaps it’s the souvenir shops at Fisherman’s Wharf. Likely, it’s the people sleeping in abject poverty on the city sidewalks. If asked what notable person comes to mind when you think of San Francisco, the name that a visitor rattles off might reflect their own walk of life, but be it that of a businessperson, a film director, an entertainer, a politician, a scientist, an environmentalist, or a computer engineer, more likely than not, it will be a male name.

Despite the fact that women in the United States attained the right to vote nearly one hundred years ago, we are far from attaining parity in most forms of public life.

https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/blog/cultural-cross-sections/women-public-art-essay-olga-zilberbourg

Here’s Lava Thomas’s design of the Maya Angelou monument that I dream about seeing on the streets of San Francisco.

Review of The Consequences by Niña Weijers, trans. by Hester Velmans

I’m delighted to have this review up on The Common. It took longer to write than I had anticipated, in part, because every time I returned to this book, there was more to say about it. So many fascinating layers!

Outstanding books often have a way of catching the reader by surprise, one insight, one unexpected narrative shift at a time. Niña Weijers, a debut novelist from the Netherlands, begins her book as a character study of her protagonist, Minnie Panis. Minnie is a conceptual artist of growing international reputation, whose career has been built on acts of public self-abnegation.  With each turn of the page, Weijers extends her subject and thematic reach, keeping her protagonist in focus while exploring contemporary art, mysticism, Mayan beliefs, and early childhood development (among other themes) to enrich our understanding of Minnie’s character and the forces that govern her life.

Minnie’s story is told by an omniscient narrator who documents Minnie’s history of “disappearances”: moments of near death and of extreme out of body experiences, all of which Hester Velmans, an NEA fellowship recipient for translation, has rendered to strong effect in plain and unpretentious language. The prologue introduces us to Minnie in February, 2012 when she falls through a frozen lake in Amsterdam. This is described as a deliberate gesture—not a suicide attempt, but rather a Houdini-like disappearing act, Minnie’s third. But why such a radical performance? The ensuing narrative leads us on an investigation. . . .

Read the rest of this review here.