Published January 13, 2021

Join Katherine VazIsabel Pavão, and Katherine McNamara for a discussion of their multimedia e-book, The Heart Is a Drowning Object, from Artist’s Proof Editions; with Molly Schwartzburg.

The Heart Is A Drowning Object is a collaboration in poems and paintings by the novelist Katherine Vaz and the artist Isabel Pavão. These artists have found inspiration in a female solitude that living through grief might bring. Katherine Vaz’s melodic poems begin with an actual damaged heart in a love story—a husband with a sudden affliction, a wife who tends to him. Isabel Pavão’s vibrant pictures share and explore her colorations of grief. Their words and images grow together, in an unexpected bloom of joy, into a way of recognizing late love amid the real possibility of loss.

This event, originally presented on January 22, 2021, is available on our Facebook Channel; click below to watch the video.
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About the artists: 

Katherine Vaz, a Briggs-Copeland Fellow in Fiction at Harvard, Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, and a National Endowment for the Arts recipient, has published two novels,Saudade and Mariana, which appeared in six languages and was selected by the Library of Congress as one of the Top Thirty International Books of 1998. Her collectionFado & Other Stories won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and Our Lady of the Artichokes won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. The Love Life of an Assistant Animator & Other Stories was published by Tailwinds in 2017.  She has published many short stories, including some in anthologies for children, and lives in New York City with her husband, the composer, writer, and TV producer Christopher Cerf.

Isabel Pavão has lived and worked in New York since 1990. She exhibits in New York City, and in international museums and galleries, in solo and group shows. She has been an invited artist or guest professor in universities, art schools, and museums, and is the subject of a number of critical studies; she has also produced several books of art and thinking about art. She presents on contemporary art, on art projects dealing with her own work, and on pedagogical issues and aesthetics. Isabel Pavão earned the PhD from New York University); MA, University of Paris VIII; and BFA and Post-graduate study, Academy of Fine Arts. Her website is

Katherine McNamara is the author of Narrow Road to the Deep North, A Journey into the Interior of Alaska, and co-translator and editor of From the First Beginning, When the Animals Were Talking, and From the Believing Time, When They Tested for the Truth, with the late Dena’ina Athabaskan author Peter Kalifornsky. She is founding editor and publisher (1996-2007) of Archipelago, an early web journal of literature, the arts, and opinion, and now directs Artist’s Proof Editions, an imprint of Archipelago Publishers, Inc., where she is also an iTunes producer and makes video poems. She is a non-residential Fellow, Virginia Humanities, and a Book Arts member of the Virginia Center for the Book.

“Isabel Pavão’s spaces are foundations for dreams. Visions well up from an ultramarine background. They are sometimes floral, they turn this way or that remembering a face. Here are roses that burst forth with blossoming charm. Elsewhere, veins run over the space like ribs of the world. Breathing and impulsiveness. Breaking off and slow eruption.”

Yves Peyre

“Katherine Vaz is the sort of fiction writer who makes me wonder why the rest of us even bother…. Her work has a delicious sadness to it that I couldn’t quite define until I visited Lisbon. The Portuguese have this emotion they call ‘saudade,’ a sort of beautiful longing…. It brings to mind what Toni Morrison says in the dedication to Sula about the ‘sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.’ It’s the textured sadness that comes from love.”

Tayari Jones

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