Jill and I have been friends for a number of years and her work has delighted and inspired me from the start. Using a combination of magazine clippings, tissue paper, newsprint, and photographic transfers along with modeling paste extender, pumice gel medium, and other mediums, Jill Allyn Stafford creates richly textured mixed-media art the expresses conflict, love, humor, and loss. Her style and techniques have evolved and grown over the years and am excited to announce that her work featured in her first solo show.
In addition to making art, Jill is a mother and a legal assistant in a small health-law law firm. She actively works to fund raise and increase awareness for children’s literacy and for breast cancer research. She donates art to multiple non-profits and charities and attempts to coax other artists into sharing their work with the public. Jill also helped form the nonprofit arts group Vox Sacramento, and is a current board member of 916 INK.
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What got you interested in creating art? What draws you to mixed-media art?
I stopped making art when I was in the 6th grade. I became so disillusioned with my inability to draw anything realistically, and so threw in the towel and labelled my self as “not creative.” Fast forward to my 30s when I felt this urge to create. I still couldn’t draw, but I could cut up magazines and put the images together. It just fell together that way. And that’s also why I enjoy mixed media art — you can have no drawing or painting skills, but if you have an eye for putting things together, you can!
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu
Reprinted at iO9.
Such a bittersweet tale of magical realism, in which folded paper animals live. It shows the pain of internalized racism and the loss it can cause. Beautiful and so moving.
Favorite Line(s): “She turned the paper over and folded it again. She pleated, packed, tucked, rolled, and twisted until the paper disappeared between her cupped hands. Then she lifted the folded-up paper packet to her mouth and blew into it, like a balloon.”
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu
Published at Clarksworld Magazine.
This is a reread for me and it is as astounding experience now as it was the first time around. A group of wasps enact a form of colonization on a nearby hive of bees, though that’s only a small fraction of the story. It is beautifully told with vibrant language, relating an alien view of life in very relatable terms.
Favorite Line(s): “… it was discovered that the wasp nests of Yiwei, dipped in hot water, unfurled into beautifully accurate maps of provinces near and far, inked in vegetable pigments and labeled in careful Mandarin that could be distinguished beneath a microscope.”
(Note: This is in the horror realm, so wary readers be warned.)
“Look, I don’t think you understand — we open those doors, we let them in.” My dad’s voice is a growl. His eye is puffy and turning black, where I struck with my book and his face is red with rage, but in his eyes I see only terror. The same terror that had kept my family and I huddled in the locked basement, shivering in the dark for the past week.
“You don’t understand. We need water. Food,” I said, my own voice thick with fear and anger and guilt. I’m halfway up the basement stairs. The book — hard bound, sharp edged, thick as a brick — still hangs heavy as a dead weight in my hand. I suck in a stale breath. “We’re going to starve to death, if we don’t get food.”
“You’ll let them in—,” he snarls, shifting forward aggressively.
Published in the collection, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
Sometimes you read a story that impacts you with the same intensity of a novel. This is one of those stories. I’m still floored, just sitting her thinking about it.
Alan is an scientist in South America studying ways to decrease the productivity of parasitic caneflies. Meanwhile, his wife in Ann Arbor is writing with increasingly disturbing news about a Sons of Adam cult and a spreading violence against women.
“The Screwfly Solution” is incredibly unsettling and absolutely brilliant. One of the best stories I’ve read in a long time and I’m considering retreading it right now, even though I should really go to bed.
Favorite Line(s): N/A, I’m having a hard time picking just one when I pretty much adore this entire story from beginning to end.
What short stories have you read and loved lately? I would love some recommendations.
Using a random number generator, I’ve determined the winners for my little corner of the Big Poetry Giveaway.
Robin A. Sams has won a copy of Cedar Toothpick: The Tomboy Diaries.
Shawnte has won a copy of The 2013 Rhysling Anthology.
Congrats to you both!
Note: Oh, dear, I drafted this days ago and forgot to press publish. Anywho, here it is now!