Living the Renaissance Life, Part One: A Conversation with Traci Slatton
“Some moments in life stand out with hallucinatory intensity, shaping everything that comes afterward: the birth of a child, a victory earned after steady, hard work; a bitter loss or humiliation; a marriage ceremony; a loved one dying in your arms; a moment of communion or awakening, when your heart opens so fully that the whole universe cracks to reveal itself. Those moments shock us out of our mundane state.” So begins author Traci Slatton’s book The Art of Life, an exact journey of all-consuming fervidness and emotionality evoked by the beauty and language of art; specifically that of sculpture. Intricately describing the process and virtuosity of a present day classical sculpture artist, Sabin Howard, whose artwork is unquestionably reminiscent of the art of masters like Michelangelo and also happens to be her husband, Slatton gives her readers a perpetual historical and personal look into the molded, present day Renaissance life.
An admirer of her husband’s work, the New York City based Slatton hoped to not only bring forward his passion and structural elements of his creations, but the understanding of art at its fundamentals to readers of all ages, starting from its crux and transcending into its prodigiously prolific, spiraling depths, but without a monotony and dullness that protrudes most art books. She longed to make it a pleasurable, thought-provoking novel that would have readers yearning for more. And the Art of Life is just that; a novel that will have anyone from the bibliophile or art aficionado to the working mom or high school student, turning the pages in awe and anticipation of what comes next, making all who read the book as passionate about art and the Italian Renaissance as Slatton is.
An artist herself by way of her words, the raven dark-haired Slatton has had quite the prolific life, and not only on account of her best-selling novels. At the mere age of 16, she had graduated high school as a junior, and went straight for her B.A. in English at Yale University. Soon after, she attended the prestigious Columbia University where she received a M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Poetry. But her learning endeavors did not end there. In search of spirituality and in a quest for helping others, she enrolled in the four-year Barbara Brennan School of Healing, where she discovered an innate talent and prospect for personal transformation. As her understanding for her inner self grew, so did her fascination with art which was finally reaching its peak since its early onset from the age of 13 (when she had gone on a trip to the Louvre with her high school French class and viewed the Winged Victory in all its luminous glory), and became irrefutably evidential in her written accomplishments from her Renaissance imbued novel The Immortal to the favorable vampire story, The Botticelli Affair, a tale centered on not only the creatures of the night, but a preliminarily walk through art history. Currently, Slatton’s curiosity continues to grow for the life of art, becoming an amalgamation of her own accomplishments and endeavors as she voyages on in making a difference in the contemporary art world by bringing the past into the future.
Taking a break from writing her screenplay for Immortal, a soon to be filmed movie based off her book, as well as her work on a new novel, Slatton spoke with GALO about writing The Art of Life alongside her husband, her fascination with the Renaissance Age, and her past work as a healer.
GALO: Your narrative in The Art of Life is much like a masterpiece in and of itself with its vivid descriptions and metaphorical details. How did the idea for writing a book on your husband’s sculpture come into conception, and why did you decide to write it together?
Traci Slatton: Thanks for the kind words. The book came about because Sabin always talks about art, about classicism, about sculpture. He continuously rails against the ugliness of post-modernism, and how the Emperor has no clothes, but people are afraid to say that. He was ranting over breakfast one morning, so I finally said, “We have to write a book so people will know what you’re doing and why it’s important.” Maybe it was self defense!
GALO: You wrote that you are indebted to your husband for your coming to an understanding of sculpture and its vast corridors of intricacies. Do you feel that without him you would have not been able to write this novel?
TS: I think of The Art of Life as a non-fiction work, though it is structured around stories. Certainly, without Sabin, I would not have written this book. In an alternate reality, where we were not together, even if I had studied art in school, I simply would not have as intimate, immediate, and urgent an understanding of the process and intent of art as I do with him.
GALO: What do you hope the novel will illuminate upon its readers, especially those of a younger generation, besides introducing your husband’s artwork and the beauty of sculpture? Do you feel that books about art are often dense in their explanations, lacking a certain personal note that brings an individualistic as well as modern approach to understanding art? In other words, something that would appeal to the younger generation, yet while entertaining them, it would educate them…
TS: There seem to be a lot of poorly written, boring, overly cerebral art history books. This fact strikes me as sad, even unacceptable. Art is one of our highest achievements and aspirations as human beings. It evokes our passion and our creativity, our love and our courage: the best that we can be. It needs to be written about with passion and creativity, love and courage. Simon Schama’s work The Power of Art is beautifully written, by the way.
Our hope is that people, young and old, will have a new understanding and new appreciation of figurative art, especially classical figurative sculpture. Sabin’s art is a vital, dynamic, important, evolving art — we want people to know that.
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