When I asked Paul Heron, editor of, 'A Cafe in Space ' - the only literary journal dedicated to diarist/novelist Anais Nin - to write the introduction to the Anais through the Looking Glass and Other Stories exhibition, I never imagined that Paul, who by all accounts is a very busy man, would have the time to write a few sentences let alone an article. Thank you Paul from the bottom of my heart for this amazing piece of writing.
'When Colette Standish submitted “Love,” a mixed media image for the 2011 issue of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, I was immediately struck with how, in spite of the fact she was not herself represented, the spirit of Anaïs Nin spoke strongly and clearly. Standish has become a regular contributor to A Café in Space for the simple reason that her art—sometimes playful, sometimes surrealistic, and always passionate—visually encapsulates Nin’s vast and multifaceted life and work.
In Standish’s new collection, “Anaïs through the Looking Glass and Other Stories,” the visual interweaving of the artist and her muse are presented in three sections. The first, “The Looking Glass,” incorporates the symbol of the mirror in Nin’s oeuvre. Nin said, “The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” It is this philosophy that gives Nin’s writing a mirror-like quality: we, the readers, can recognize our deepest, most hidden qualities in her words. We see ourselves clearly, perhaps for the first time. Standish captures this phenomenon in “The Looking Glass,” and in her “cracked glass” pieces, Nin is bursting through the pages of her books into our world, and we into hers.
The second section, the “Erotic,” is an essential representation of Nin’s complicated love life, which has been called by some an “erotic madness,” beginning when she, a married woman, met the American author Henry Miller in Paris in 1931. Miller “taught” Nin how to “be a woman,” and the process was painful because, as Nin put it, “I was no longer a child with a child’s blind faith.” Several important personages figure into Standish’s images here—Miller himself, his sultry wife June, Nin’s husband Hugo, and her lover, the young forester Rupert Pole. But the most haunting figure, the one who pulled the strings of all the other men as so many marionettes, is Nin’s father, Joaquín, with whom Anaïs had a doomed affair in 1933, a cataclysmic meeting of the long-estranged father and daughter, the result of twenty years of longing, regret, and a never-ending search to replace him with another. Standish depicts Joaquín Nin’s overbearing presence in his daughter’s life brilliantly.
The third section, “Amalgamation,” is a fitting conclusion to “Anaïs through the Looking Glass,” because Nin’s life, contrary to how it has been presented in literature and in film, was not purely erotic, nor purely literary, but a concoction of both—her dreams, which fed her literary works, often affected her decisions about with whom to share them, and vice-versa. Nin’s lovers were not simply flesh and blood—they were characters in her inner life; she was able to transmute the human into a symbol, an extension of the dream, and whatever ugliness, flaws or limitations the lover possessed was left for mortals to judge. Anaïs Nin did not judge, and Standish does not judge Nin but instead allows her potent and unique life-force to burn within the images presented here today.
— Paul Herron, Editor, Sky Blue Press
This article can also be seen in the up and coming catalogue of the show, ' Anais Through the Looking Glass and Other Stories'. Details soon!