Maira Kalman (dialogue with Kurt Andersen)
She did illustrated version of Skunk and White's Elements of Style. She always wanted to be a writer. She went to college and dropped out. She was at a flea market church and read it. It was a natural moment to decided to illustrate it. Did a series of paintings to illustrating the write and wrong prose. She talks about serendipity. The intent between Gertrude Stein and Skunk and White was different but the craziness is similar.
Becoming an artist
Writing was torture and art was easy. She thought that the narrative story could be told in a painting. She did know any rules and did not have any limitations. "I am propelling myself into being a permanent amateur." She started writing children's books. Then moved to writing for adults and writing monthly column for New York Times Online.
For one year, the column she wrote was about "anguish, joy, not wanting to speak, not wanting to shut up, and everything." She was happy about it.
Her book is The Principles of Uncertainty from her NY Times columns. She assumes that anyone who does anything is a manic depressive. The year is about collapse and pulling herself together again. It is all hand written with paintings. These are stories from her family. "I walk around in an alert stupor."
"There was zero inner peace in my home but the cake was a mocha cake." So she talks about family and madness.
"There are feelings that well up inside that you know are true. And that's how I live my life." I like that phrase because that is how I live my life. She is giving a performance next week at the New York Public Library a 13-minute performance piece. She wants to be a maid for a Duchess.