Archive | January, 2015

CHARLES WILLIAMS “Swim” in South Strand News

30 Jan

Sink or swim: Georgetonian conquers fears through his artwork

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015

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“In Seconds No. 4” by Charles E. Williams


Charles Williams is getting nervous. He grips his hands tighter together while he talks, causing his knuckles to whiten. His voice lowers and his speech slows. If one were to look closely, they may see a bead of sweat or two appear on his brow.

He’s talking about swimming, or rather his inability to swim, as he stands amongst four huge six-foot-by-six-foot paintings of the ocean.

The works are his, on display at the Franklin G. Burroughs — Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach in an exhibition titled “Swim: An Artist’s Journey.”

“This is me trying to look at what’s causing my fear. The water is alluring but deadly, and it has these human characteristics. Water has always been an intricate part of my pieces,” Williams said. “…For viewers, I’m just using swimming to represent me, but this is also for others to look at their fears and make steps toward becoming better individuals.”

For Williams, that journey, and his fear of water, started when the Georgetown native was 11 years old.

“When I was 11, I was taken under. I was jumping the waves with my cousin at the state park in Myrtle Beach,” he remembers.

From that point forward, the fear of water had a tight grip on Williams, causing him to have what he calls “accidents” every time he ventured into the water in the future.

The accidents – near drownings and panic attacks in the water – have continued all of Williams’ life, since the incident when he was 11 years old, to the swimming lessons he failed in high school, up to three years ago, the most recent event, when he had a panic attack after finding he couldn’t touch the bottom of a swimming pool.

“Swim” is an attempt to tackle his fears, and his next step in finally learning to swim.

His original idea for an exhibition at the museum was a bit different, but it evolved after museum staff asked him to make the works more personal.

“I thought this would be a good time to be brave enough to do a few water paintings. It was therapeutic in a way,” Williams said. “I love a challenge, and this is a life challenge for me.”

The exhibition opened on Jan. 15 and will close at the museum on April 23.

“It was a packed house,” Williams said of the opening. “I was really surprised and grateful.”

The crowd included friends, family, sponsors, collectors and even “people from high school when I was selling my work in Georgetown to raise money for college at SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design),” he said.

He first attended Georgetown High, but finished his degree at Carvers Bay High. In 2006 he graduated from SCAD and worked in graphic design briefly before becoming a fulltime painter in 2008.

Williams has had several solo exhibitions in Georgetown, Pawleys Island and Charleston; has been a part of 25 group exhibitions in cities across the U.S. including Atlanta, Sacramento and Washington, D.C.; and has won 11 awards and fellowships for his work.

“Swim” is a collection of 48 oil works – eight six-foot canvas paintings and 40 smaller studies, 30 of the daytime and 10 of nighttime. It took him eight months to complete them.

Standing next to the canvas works, Williams is almost as tall as they are.

“I even feel like these are too small,” he said. “I wanted to paint them as large as I could. It goes back to the person experiencing what I fear. I wanted the pieces to take over you.”

The exhibition is held in three rooms, which Williams described as a “cinematic spectrum from day to night.”

The first room is brightly lit and shows four canvas works titled “In Seconds.” Each shows a progression of the experience of drowning; from No. 1 to No. 4, the viewer is above the water, at the cusp of being under water, completely engulfed under water, and lastly drowning.

“In Seconds No. 4” depicts an 11-year-old Williams floating beneath the surface of the water.

“No. 4 is a significant piece. You know how people talk about dying and seeing the white light? Well I saw it,” Williams said. “I wanted this to reflect the idea of the white light. It’s warm, full of life, and this is me in a sort of ‘letting go’ pose.”

The center room features the study pieces, which are smaller works on paper and canvas.

The studies, which feature day and night images, lead into the final room that houses all four “Lost and Found” paintings.

Williams explains the works, which show portions of the ocean illuminated by light, surrounded by darkness: “Psychologically, I wanted to go back into my mind with a flashlight and find the monster. As a kid, I was also afraid of the dark, so this also helped me show, ‘Hey, I can tackle this fear.’”

Ocean sounds are playing in all of the rooms, which only adds to the feeling of becoming Williams, and he said the effect is particularly important in the “Lost and Found” room.

“I wanted to mimic what you can’t see,” he said, “and yet you can hear the sound of the water.”

To accomplish the effect, he used a flashlight and camera at the beach at night to gather images for inspiration. The lights in the room also mirror the experience, with dim lighting in the center and one spotlight aimed at each piece to mimic where the artist’s flashlight would have been.

Williams’ journey of exploration also took him beyond case studies and into research. It’s a stereotype that most blacks can’t swim, but the artist wanted to know more details. His research revealed that each year, for every one white child who dies from drowning, two to three black children die from it.

“In a way, I would like ‘Swim’ to be an awareness too. … I think it comes down to parents, and how they view the importance of swimming as a survival mechanism,” he said.

Williams called the experience “surreal” to have his first museum show at home along the Atlantic Ocean, a sentiment similar to making money from conquering his fears. Each of the larger canvases has a $10,000 price tag attached.

“As an artist, we already make a living off of putting ourselves out there,” Williams said. “I would encourage all artists to explore learning about themselves and illustrating that. It lets everyone see them innocently.”

Does the 31-year-old consider himself brave for conquering the project?

“Hell yeah, brave in many ways. I took a year off of working for commercial galleries to invest the time, research and process to create these,” Williams said, “but it was all worth it and I would do it again. And I will do it again.”

With a little less enthusiasm, but the same determination, he said the same of swimming: “I still fear the water, but this is my first step toward learning how to swim.”

CHARLES WILLIAMS Museum Exhibition “Swim” Dispels Stereotypes

29 Jan


weekly surge logo

Myrtle Beach art museum offering aims to dispel stereotypes about African-Americans and swimming

For Weekly SurgeJanuary 15, 2015

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

Known for his realism, especially in regard to ocean scenes, artist and Georgetown native Charles Williams, 30, will present 12 six-by-eight oil paintings and 40 painted studies for “Swim: An Artist’s Journey,” inspired by a near-drowning experience and his efforts to come to terms with water – its beauty and serenity versus the potential danger and the very real possibility of fatality – opening tonight at Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum.

Williams, who is African-American, said the original focus of “Swim” was on stereotypes associated with black males and swimming – like “black people don’t swim,” and his impressions of the percentage rate of accidental drowning, utilizing iconic sneakers as social context in his pieces. His work has since taken on a deeply personal tone. “I decided to put the sneaker social context aside and work on the psychology of this fear that I had of water,” he said. “This exhibition is an acknowledgement of my fear – and also the first step that I am making toward progressing – toward getting back into the water and being able to be comfortable and swim.”

The process has proven to be therapeutic for Williams.

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

“I am using swimming as a vehicle to say, ‘OK, this is who I am, and I am comfortable to say that this is my fear.’” In the past, he would tell people that he took lessons if the subject of swimming came up, but this was only part of the equation. He knew the techniques, but his fear overrode them. “But lately in doing these massive paintings for my show, I have gotten more comfortable about saying, ‘No – I can’t swim. If you put me in water, I can’t swim. I need a life vest.’”

His works promise to reveal a battle within himself over time. “It’s like the water and the ocean have these human characteristics. It could be serene and pretty, but it can also be overwhelming and intimidating,” he said. “The more you study it and the more you understand it, you have to respect it. In order to respect it, you have to learn the tactics to survive in it – and that encompasses swimming.”

The exhibition has been in the works for quite some time, according to Art Museum executive director Pat Goodwin.

“We first met and discussed an exhibition with Charles a few years ago,” she said. “Shortly after those initial conversations, he presented us with Swim: An Artist’s Journey – a very unique exhibition concept. We were immediately intrigued. Here was an opportunity to not only showcase Charles’ work but also to offer an exhibit that included an educational and didactic component, and that is something very important to the mission of our Art Museum.”

Over the summer, Goodwin said she and Museum curator Liz Miller visited Williams in his studio in downtown Charleston before his recent move to Charlotte, N.C. “We were able to see a few of the larger works as well as discuss the specifics for the exhibition as a whole,” she said. “Since that visit, Charles regularly sends us images of the paintings, and frequent phone calls, e-mails and text messages keep us connected to the project. During the summer studio visit, we were also able to discuss the design of the exhibition catalogue and happily our creative ideas meshed perfectly.”

Goodwin says Williams is a detail-oriented professional, “thinking about not just the individual works but also about how they work together to tell the story – and how the story will play out with the audience.”

Linda Ketron of ART WORKS in the Litchfield Exchange, says her history with the Williams family goes back more than 20 years, and she was one of his many early supporters in the local community. In fact, Ketron was one of a group that helped the young artist develop his portfolio and raise funds to use for tuition at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

“When Charles announced the upcoming show and the financial challenges he faced getting the pieces framed and transported for display, ART WORKS was planning its “Homecoming” show,” she said. “We dedicated the gallery’s commissions on sales toward the “Swim” exhibit and were able to send $500 to join the donations received from his private collectors, corporate sponsors and grant monies.”

Ketron is taken with the story behind this new exhibition.

“Charles has sent photos along with his moving story. His journey is one shared by many African Americans along the coastal communities. The Sandy Island boat tragedy of a few years back remains an open wound, though the local YMCA and other outreach efforts are making great strides in teaching swimming lessons to the young and old. I have imagined standing in one of the museum’s gallery rooms with these enormous paintings of unkind waters around me. The feelings of vulnerability and fear are palpable. I can hardly wait to see the exhibit in person.”

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY “Self Conscious” & LAUREL HAUSLER “No Trace of the Woman” opens Feb 13th, 2015

28 Jan
New mixed media works by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY
Felted wool works by LAUREL HAUSLER
Friday, February 13th – March 5th, 2015

Friday, February 13th, 6pm-8pm
Both artists will be in attendance

Morton Fine Art (MFA)
1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)
Washington, DC 20009


TuesdaySaturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY,  Self Conscious (140905_1), 44"x44", mixed media on canvas

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY, Self Conscious (140905_1), 44″x44″, mixed media on canvas


About SELF
In this new series of work, ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY explores expressions of sadness, grief and loss. Inherently a  narcissistic and self conscious construct, COVEY challenges the concept of “selfie” to a level of artistic and universal impact. She uses her own face during times of personal internal grief to replicate the emotions she has seen on the faces of others during periods of loss. This body of work is comprised of a combination of painting, photography, and printmaking based on the quick capture of her image.
About ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY (Washington, DC b. South Africa):
ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a career spanning three decades she has exhibited internationally and received countless awards. Ms. Covey’s work is in many major museum and library collections, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the National Museum of American History, Harvard University, the Papyrus Institute in Cairo and 512 works in the permanent collection of Georgetown University Library. There was recently a retrospective of Ms. Covey’s wood engravings and installation work on display at the Evergreen Museum in Baltimore.
LAUREL HAUSLER, Red Shoes, 50"x50", felted wool

LAUREL HAUSLER, Red Shoes, 50″x50″, felted wool


LAUREL HAUSLER creates paintings and sculptures of felted wool inspired by Frances Glessner Lee’s 1940’s dollhouse rendering of “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”, composite crime scene models recreated on a one-inch-to-one-foot scale. Inspired by Glessner Lee’s visionary and zealous passion for forensics in a time when women were unable to become detectives, Hausler selects needles and fiber as her medium to honor traditional notions of “women’s art” or “craft”, mirroring Glessner Lee’s own meticulous attention to detail, down to every last hand-crafted clue, of the “Nutshell Studies”.
A Washington, DC native, LAUREL HAUSLER’s love of literature, antiquity, unsolved mysteries and the obscure inspire the stories behind her work.  Working in a subtractive and additive process, she creates the surface of her felt sculpted paintings by layering strands of felted wool. Admired for resisting a self-conscious approach to process, Hausler reveals lines, veils and gestures on her surfaces that demonstrate her decision-making process through the work’s evolution to its finished state.
Please contact Morton Fine Art for pricing and availability.
(202) 628-2787

NNENNA OKORE featured in Blouin Art + Auction

27 Jan

NNENNA OKORE featured in Blouin Art + Auction as “Wise Buys : 50 Women Artists Worth Watching”.


Nigerian-born, Chicago-based Okore produces tactile works that explore the manner in which abject materials are intertwined in our daily lives. Working with organic media such as burlap, clay, and wax as well as discarded rope and newspaper, Okore weaves, twists, sews and rolls elements to create pieces that are regenerative in nature and evocative of textures found in the natural world. For “Earthbound”, 2011, a trip of earth-toned wall works, Okore wove myriad ceramic beads and cubes onto a burlap ground that was then folded and formed.  For “No Condition is Permanent”, 2013, the artist used newsprint and acrylic to create a transformative work reminiscent of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. “I am astounded by natural phenomenon that cause things to become weathered, dilapidated, and lifeless,” she has said, “events subtly captured in the fluid and delicate nature of life.”  At auction, her works have commanded in excess of $20,000, a figure in line with her primary market prices, which range from $8,000 to $30,000. Okore’s installations have a highly tactile and sensual quality as well as a powerful presence.

Blouin Art and Auction web

Blouin Okore 2014

KESHA BRUCE in the Washington City Paper

22 Jan


ToDo ToDay: Kesha Bruce, UltraFaux, and the NSO at NPR


Artist Kesha Bruce’s work regularly features abstract portraits of unknown figures. Sometimes they’re called angels, sometimes totems. In her latest series, “The Guardians,” now on view at Morton Fine Art, she paints “spirits who act as watchers, keepers, and protectors.” The element of watching comes across most vividly in “Birbal” (pictured), a head in shades of red and black with two white eyes that appear to penetrate the linen on which they’re painted. Other works in the series are less representative, prompting the viewer to ponder how these figures act as protectors. Bruce’s combination of materials gives the pieces a tactile quality, pulling the guardians off the canvas and towards those they keep safe. The exhibition is on view Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 p.m., to Jan. 6 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. Free. (202) 628-2787. (Caroline Jones)

NNENNA OKORE in the Wall Street Journal

20 Jan
 wall street journal logo

Paintings of a Caricaturist, Plus Two Sculptors

David Levine, Nnenna Okore and Juan Muñoz in Fine Art

Nnenna Okore: Twist and Turns

David Krut Projects

526 W. 26th St., (212) 255-3094

Through Jan. 17

‘Transitions’ (2013) by Nnenna Okore.
‘Transitions’ (2013) by Nnenna Okore. NNENNA OKORE/DAVID KRUT PROJECTS, NEW YORK

To Western art-world eyes, a lot of work made by contemporary artists with non-Western backgrounds is technically impressive but aesthetically a little suspicious. That is, we sense it looks good mostly because considerable labor and careful craft have gone into it. Because it often contains exotic or folkish materials, it has a kind of guaranteed visual floor under it. Whatever else happens, it won’t look outrightly bad.

In the hurly-burly of today’s big-city gallery scenes (especially New York’s), this can be a disadvantage. But it is one that the Nigerian-American sculptor, Nnenna Okore (b. 1975) overcomes. Not that Ms. Okore—who is an art professor in Chicago—avoids the problem; she actually doubles down on it.

Having spent an apprentice year under the internationally successful Ghanaian artist El Anatsui (whose fabriclike wall pieces, made of bits of refuse metal in his studio in Nigeria, grace a plethora of modern art museums), Ms. Okore has worked with sewing, dyeing, weaving and other unconventional processes.

For this exhibition, the artist has pared down the materials in her complex, weblike relief sculptures. The three-part, 10-foot-wide “Transitions” (2013), for example, consists of newspaper stiffened and colored with acrylic paint. Ms. Okore’s palette tends toward muted, organic greens and reds and, in some works, black. Although her art’s initial impact is that of the easy good looks that come with craft and applied African traditions, the emotional intensity in this exhibition lifts Ms. Okore’s work to a higher level.


15 Jan

New arrivals to the gallery by artist MAYA FREELON ASANTE!

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About MAYA FREELON ASANTE (Chapel Hill, b. USA):

Maya Freelon Asante is an award-winning artist whose artwork was described by poet Maya Angelou as “visualizing the truth about the vunerability and power of the human being,” and her unique tissue paper work was also praiseed by the International Review of African American Art as a “vibrant, beating assemblage of color.” She was selected by Modern Luxury Magazine as Best of the City 2013 and by the Huffington Post’s “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know”.

Maya has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including Paris, Ghana, and US Embassies in Madagascar, Italy, Jamaica, and Swaziland. She has been a professor of art at Towson University and Morgan State University. Maya has attended numerous residencies including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Korobeity Institute and Brandywine Workshop. She earned a BA from Lafayette College and an MFA from the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Please contact Morton Fine Art for artwork availability.
(202) 628-2787


CHARLES WILLIAMS solo at The Franklin G. Burroughs‑Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum

13 Jan

A huge congratulations to MFA artist CHARLES WILLIAMS for his first museum solo exhibition!

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January 15th – April 23rd, 2015

“Swim: An Artist’s Journey” solo exhibition at The Franklin G. Burroughs‑Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC.

What was once hidden is now an open artistic diary of Charles Williams’ fearful journey.

 A native of Georgetown, SC, Charles Williams continues to explore the nuances of his emotional relationship with water — this time investigating thoughts, emotions and experiences from the past, so that what was once hidden has now become an artistic public journal for viewers to co-explore his ocean phobia. His solo exhibit Swim: An Artist’s Journey captures the essence of his ever-morphing aqua obsession with hauntingly personal and hyper-real 6’+ oil paintings placed strategically to surround and engulf, bringing the viewer face-to-face and into the ocean. Utilizing cinematic elements of sight and sound, the exhibit experience is intended to evoke the sensation of being in water.

Known for his contemporary landscapes, Williams shows his sensitivity by exposing his journey from fear to freedom through the visual poetry of these works. Personal sequential experiences imbued with the cultural influences of living on the southeastern coast and actualized on canvas will be offered as this artist’s diary of his fearful obsession with water.

Seen in the American Art Collector, and Professional Artist Magazine for his 2012 show entitled “In Thought,” as well as other various internet and art publications. Other publications follow the rising artist with features and previews in the Artist Magazine, Studio Visit, Charleston Magazine, Grand Strand Magazine, Empty Magazine, Escape into Life, the Oxford, Southwest Art and more.

Swim: An Artist’s Journey will be presented in January 2015 at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC.


About Charles Williams 

Charles Williams is a professional contemporary realist painter from Georgetown, South Carolina and a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art. Utilizing oils for the basis of landscapes, each painting captures his reflection of human emotions in response to and in sync with the natural environment. Recent achievements and awards include a Hudson River Landscape Fellowship, featured work in the Artist’s Magazine’s 28th Annual Art Competition, honorable mention from Southwest Art Magazine’s 21 Emerging Under 31 competition, 2012 Winner of the Fine Art Category from Creative Quarterly, 2013 selected artist for 28th Positive Negative juried art exhibition at East Tennessee State University, juror/curated by Michael Ray Charles from PBS Art 21, one of 25 selected artists for the 2012 Dave Bown Project in Chicago, juried/curated by Karl Hecksher, owner K5 Editions, New York, Andrea Karnes, curator at Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Mary Kate O’Hare, curator at American Art, Newark Museum, 2ndBluecanvas Publication international competition, “Environments” and featured cover artist of Composite and Professional Artist Magazine. Williams’ works has been shown in American Art Collector, Empty Magazine, Charleston Magazine, Grand Strand, Studio Visit, Bluecanvas and other national publications. He was interviewed and broadcast on ETV/ NPR station on September 3, 2012, entitled: Nature Through the Eyes of an Artist. He recently received the 2014 Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Award from the State of South Carolina for development of enriching art programs within local communities.

His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in New York, Vermont, California, and several other southeastern states and now are represented by Robert Lange Studios and Morton Fine Art.

Please contact Morton Fine Art for artwork availability.

(202) 628-2787

NATHANIEL DONNETT’s artwork acquired for permanent collection of Mattatuck Museum

8 Jan


NATHANIEL DONNETT, miniscule, mini-school, i meant two schools; keep watching, 51"x53", conte, graphite, color pencil, plastic on paper bags

NATHANIEL DONNETT, miniscule, mini-school, i meant two schools; keep watching, 51″x53″, conte, graphite, color pencil, plastic on paper bags


Congratulations to Houston based NATHANIEL DONNETT for the acquisition of his piece, miniscule, mini-school, i meant two schools; keep watching, for the permanent collection of the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut.  The piece has been on display at the museum during NATHANIEL DONNETT’s current solo exhibition Alone in My Four Cornered Room which runs through early January 2014. The artwork measures 51″x53″ and is comprised of conte, graphite, color pencil, plastic on paper bags.


Nathaniel Donnett
Alone in My Four Cornered Room
October 23, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Scotoma web.jpg

The title of the show, “Alone in My Four Cornered Room,” references a lyric from the 1991 classic hip-hop song, “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me,” by trio The Geto Boys. The song, like Donnett’s works explore isolation, paranoia, and identity in which perception of self and self-knowledge do not always match. In this way, Donnett takes up a strategy that has fortified hip-hop: referencing back to others in order to assemble links and connections. Both The Geto Boy and Donnett are exploring self-doubt, safety, and psychological well-being in the face of “double consciousness.” The works in this show represent Donnett’s investments in examining the entangled relationships between society, the art world, and identity. By exploring experiences of isolation, loneliness, and social stigma, and self -determination, Donnett restores and reclaims the humanity of African Americans living complex emotional lives.

Donnett’s layered works defy singular description, rather they are purposefully resistant to either/or interpretations or linear narratives. Donnett’s work is presenting us with both/and narratives in which as viewer we have a small window in which to glimpse the vertinginous experience of being both erased and highly visible – to be forced to know oneself based on the fears others might have of you. Donnett refers to this entangled interaction between the self and society as projections, noting that many of the notions we have about each other are based on narrow narratives or misinformation. Donnett’s work suggests that none of us are safe from internalizing misperceptions of others – even the misperceptions of our own identities and selves – and he explores how very challenging, complicated, and tangled such experiences can be. His carefully crafted work plays with the distance between self-knowledge and self-perception, while investigating the spaces where art, music, identity, history, the Black imagination, culture, the self, and standards of beauty may be explored – and even challenged. Donnett’s use of such diverse materials gestures toward the improvisation he highlights as part of African American culture.

Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main Street
Waterbury, CT 06702
(203) 753-0381 ext. 130

Museum Hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sundays: 12 noon – 5:00 p.m.
OPEN LATE the first Thursday of the month until 7:30 p.m.

MAYA FREELON ASANTE’s artwork featured on the cover of SIGNS JOURNAL

6 Jan

Our Current Issue


The Winter 2015 issue of Signs begins with a comparative perspectives symposium titled “Politics of the Sensing Subject: Gender, Perception, Art,” edited and introduced by Anne Keefe. Other articles in the issue explore new materialism; women who regret becoming mothers; emerging representations of autistic subjects; race, gender, and affect from a historical perspective; the affective labor of drag and nursing; and the contemporary relationship between the United States and India through US women’s memoirs. Read more about the issue here or view the issue itself on JSTOR.