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Touching the Art

 Author: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore  Category: Biography & Autobiography  Publisher: Soft Skull  Published: November 7, 2023  ISBN: 9781593767358  Pages: 305  Language: English  Tags: trans women |  Alibris  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Bookshop org  Kobo  Publisher  Find in a Library
 Description:

A daringly observant memoir about intergenerational trauma, fine art, and compartmentalization from a returning Soft Skull author and Lambda Literary Award winner A mixture of memoir, biography, criticism, and social history, Touching the Art is queer icon and activist Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s interrogation of the possibilities of artistic striving, the limits of the middle-class mindset, the legacy of familial abandonment, and what art can and cannot do. Taking the form of a self-directed research project, Sycamore recounts the legacy of her fraught relationship with her late grandmother, an abstract artist from Baltimore who encouraged Mattilda as a young artist, then disparaged Mattilda’s work as “vulgar” and a “waste of talent” once it became unapologetically queer. As she sorts through her grandmother Gladys’s paintings and handmade paperworks, Sycamore examines the creative impulse itself. In fragments evoking the movements of memory, she searches for Gladys’s place within the trajectories of midcentury modernism and Abstract Expressionism, Jewish assimilation and white flight, intergenerational trauma and class striving. Sycamore writes, “Art is never just art, it is a history of feeling, a gap between sensations, a safety valve, an escape hatch, a sudden shift in the body, a clipboard full of flowers, a welcome mat flipped over and back, over and back, welcome.” Refusing easy answers in search of an embodied truth, Sycamore upends propriety to touch the art and feel everything that comes through.

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About the author

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Sycamore is the author of three novels and three nonfiction titles, and the editor of six nonfiction anthologies. Mattilda lives in Seattle, Washington. Author Website

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