“Now is the time to sift through the pile of shit.”
— Blossoms and Bones, Kim Krans
“Draw the feeling”
Blossoms and Bones is an impactful, moving, deeply touching graphic memoir that was the icing on my 2020 cake. Yes, my review is coming a bit late, but what better month than March to publish this article, the month where so many talented female artists are brought to the forefront – although it should be the case all year round? What a book to finish the year with! It seems to tackle so much of what 2020 was about : anxiety, despair, grief, loss, pain, hope, healing…
The author shares her journey towards self-discovery after (and whilst) going through a divorce, an eating disorder, struggling with perfectionism and fertility issues in a world where one always has to do more, to be more in order to fit in and be seen as successful – maybe even more as an artist in Los Angeles.
Unable to keep up with this lifestyle any longer, Kim Krans cancelled all her plans to retreat to an ashram and “draw the feeling” for forty days. Drawing as medicine. But it is not easy not to be sidetracked by the appeal of narration, not to bring fascinating characters to life, not to try to impress with gorgeous artwork instead of concentrating on the feeling. The raw, the painful, the ugly feeling, the dark side of life we tend to find excuses to avoid exploring.
Kim Krans will persevere, however, and come out the other side of the tunnel as a stronger woman, more self-aware and ready to go back to “real” life after this creative pause dedicated to healing and self-care. This break was not only a gift for the author, it is also a boon for readers who get to discover this powerful memoir that I came across thanks to Pam Grossman’s podcast The Witch Wave.
A feast for the eyes, the brain and the soul
Its beautiful black-and-white illustrations might not be to everyone’s taste, as Kim Krans sought authenticity rather than aesthetic quality, but they do convey the artist’s feelings. The author managed to find the delicate balance between black and white, lightness and dark… Some pages are almost blinding while others are so dark that readers cannot help but fall into this black hole opened on a double spread (you can take a peek at a few illustrations on the author’s website). Not to forget the pleasure of delving into a gorgeous hardback with a mesmerising dust jacket and a colourful bookmark!
Beyond the illustration artwork, Kim Krans has a real way with words. Her lists, her etymological research as well as her work on nuances and her powerful metaphors all show how difficult it is to strike a balance between who we are, who we think we are, who we aspire to be, and who society wants us to be… Interspersing narrative and introspective moments, her prayers emerge as flowers from an arid soil and bring beauty, hope and strength before going back to the “story” and the “feeling”.
Although it could sound depressing, Blossoms and Bones is not devoid of dark humour, irony and self-derision… and there is also “Psychic Springs”, a place I’d really, really like to visit, explore, and immerse myself in.
I was relieved to be guided through this adventure by two intriguing skeletons that can probably be interpreted in many ways… They don’t seem to understand it all themselves, which reassured me as I was both engrossed in this book and puzzled, even lost at times.
But the journey matters more than the destination, right? Blossoms and Bones offers a delicious – although painful – journey, which might help more than one reader to find their own destination. The road will be long, but this stunning graphic memoir suggests it’s worth taking it.
About the book
Author: Kim Krans
Publication date: March 2020