Moved by Maira Kalman


maira21 In Maira Kalman’s latest post, So Moved, a paean to democracy for her illustrated New York Times blog, “And the Pursuit of Happiness,” she gets if not at the heart of American democracy, at least at its sweet tooth. Through her characteristic Mannerist portraits, such as that of Alexis de Toqueville, to her folksy whimsical illustrations of a town hall meeting in Vermont, Maira explores her experiences with democracy.

While her paintings are more heart than rigor, her collapsed perspective and oddball, yet trenchant, extempore comments scrawled along the side make plain a charm and sincerity that will get you as excited about a ballot box as it will about a box of chocolates. For example, she opens her post with an anecdote: “In 1535, Sir Thomas More, the author of “Utopia,” a novel about a perfect society, had a disagreement with King Henry VIII.  Henry had him beheaded. So much for a perfect society.”

Prior posts in this series, which began in January and run every last Friday of the month, include, The Inauguration. At Last, and In Love With A. Lincoln.  It’s safe to say that we can expect a compilation of Kalman’s current series in the manner of her last column for Op-Extra, which was compiled in one volume as “The Principles of Uncertainty.”

For more information on her illustrations for the New Yorker, her refashioning of the classic Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and her children’s books, visit Kalman’s blog.

Why should you love Maira Kalman?  If not for her whimsy and her wit, for her advice for when something does go wrong, “Keep calm and carry on.”

Rozalia Jovanovic is a founding editor of Gigantic, a magazine of short prose and art. She is the Deputy Editor of Flavorpill and has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Columbia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming from Unsaid, The Believer, Everyday Genius, Guernica, elimae, and She blogs at The Astonishing Egg and is The Rumpus New York Editor. More from this author →