Written by Ilona Nakshun and Lera Nakshun

Ponder’s work was featured in Greek Myths, a recently-published anthology of ancient Greek stories by Jean Menzies.

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Katie Ponder’s illustration of Pandora featured in Greek Myths by Jean Menzies. Image credit: Katie Ponder and Mendola Artists

London-based illustrator Katie Ponder’s artwork reimagines vintage imagery for modern audiences. Ponder’s work, with its lifelike contrasting textures and static posturing, is heavily influenced by art deco, theatre, and a taste for the gothic. Her characters, unmoving in their statuesque poses, seem frozen in time — furthering playing up the nostalgia of her old school theatre references. Despite the two-dimensional visuals that make up her artwork, Ponder is very much influenced by music and dance.


The Periwinkle Planet offers up an exciting new world, the foundation for an intricate magic system, social commentary, and more.

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“Two ancient Asucross,” an illustration by Danielle Battle. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Periwinkle Planet is a new online zine created by the Dream Drafters, a duo consisting of artist, graphic designer, and illustrator Danielle Battle and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s science writer Amy Klarup. The publication features short stories, lore, and poetry written by Klarup, centered on the native populations of the fictional lands of Gora, the titular periwinkle planet the duo dreamed up together.

“It’s always been a dream to create a zine like this,” Battle said in a statement to Muse Factory. “To see it finished, it feels incredible. …


Musician Loolwa Khazzoom sits down to discuss her new song “Cancer is My Engine,” her musical reawakening, and that time she chased Yemeni-Israeli superstar Ofra Haza

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Iraqis in Pajamas, left to right: Sean Sebastian, Loolwa Khazzoom and Robbie Morsehead (photo courtesy of Iraqis in Pajamas and photographer Ettie Wahl)

Loolwa Khazzoom, the frontwoman of the band Iraqis in Pajamas, is a woman of complexity. Her first name Loolwa means “a pearl in a million” in the Iraqi Judaeo-Arabic language of her ancestors. Khazzoom was brought up by an American Jewish mother and an Iraqi Jewish father in California, and her unique heritage has shaped much of her identity growing up.

“I was born a musician. I started singing before I started talking,” Khazzoom told me in our conversation. As we talked on Zoom over the complexities of growing up with Middle Eastern ancestry in America, I noticed the familiar silhouettes of darbuka drums set up behind her in the background. While her voice is the instrument I’ve come to know her for, having first heard her sing Iraqi-Jewish maqam in the 2007 documentary film The Forgotten Refugees, Khazzoom plays eleven different instruments, most notably piano, guitar, bass, flute, and others. …


Painter Victoria Garcia talks Green New Deal, the fashion industry, and the healing power of art.

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Spring Awakening (2019), oil and gold leaf on canvas

Victoria Garcia’s main sources of inspiration come from many places. Nature, mythology, and history, specifically Japanese, Greek, and Mexican, all play a role in shaping her artistic approach. Throughout her creative journey, she’s also been heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau and Impressionist movements.

“Their stylization of natural forms, use of bright, bold colors and the way these artists were able to make present everyday objects, like a lamp or a landscape, in a way that transformed them from something mundane to something memorable really appeals to me.” …


An Edinburgh painter learns the fame of Italian megastar Adriano Celentano in a comedy of fortunate circumstances.

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Mould’s paintings of artists: Frida (left) and Vincent (right), 2020, acrylics on board, courtesy of artist

Like the lyrics of Marry Poppins’ “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Prisencolinensinainciusol,” the name of Adriano Celentano’s 1972 hit single, is a nonsensical word. To an English speaker, this is obvious, but when you put together catchy rhythms, a killer ballet, and a fake American accent, “Prisencolinensinainciusol” starts to sound a little bit like English, and that is the point.

On November 26, 2020, Edinburgh-based artist Harry Mould posted the following tweet, highlighting Celentano and wife Claudia Mori’s music video for the single.

As Mould mentioned in her tweet, Celentano correctly assumed that a song, even without meaningful lyrics, would become a hit if it sounded enough like English to an Italian audience. Of course, the production quality of the music video itself, with a full dance ensemble and synchronized choreography reminiscent of Busby Berkeley, couldn’t have hurt. …


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Illustration by Kazakhstani artist Erden Zikibay

Due to the release of the highly-publicized film Borat 2 or Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, many Kazakh people are annoyed. As a former Soviet minority, I am trying to justify to myself that Borat 2 is okay to laugh at and enjoy and also support the Kazakh people, many of whom feel invisible when their voices of concern regarding negative blowback and stereotypes aren’t heard in the media.

“I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world. The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version.”


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Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash

So here’s the thing. I noticed a trend in the rhetoric of many Democratic politicians, liberal media outlets, friends, and coworkers when they talk about basically anybody who isn’t white. When discussing politics, social disparities, and economic strife, the aforementioned groups often use the term “Black and Brown individuals” to, uhh, I dunno…lump in a bunch of very different people into one all-encompassing label. If this doesn’t sound problematic to you, let me explain.

Yes, America has a long and ugly history of racism, chattel slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, and the legacy of these tremendous stains on the fabric of this country affect the lives of Black Americans. …


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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

When it comes to the works of Albert Camus, a long-dead Algerian-born French novelist and philosopher, I’ve only read The Stranger.

It was okay.

I think the problem was that by the time I had read the novella, none of the ideas were particularly profound to me. It had a sort of a been-there, done-that kind of feel, even though perhaps Camus was the one who started the trend that I had only heard of from other philosophers and novelists who may have come after.

The Plague is different.

I found that through all of the unnecessary prose, which was not at all present in my only other Camus experience (The Stranger), The Plague is both harrowing and oddly comforting. …


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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I’ve come to a breaking point recently, and it’s taught me a lot about myself and about my place in my relationship.

I’ve searched long and hard for somebody that I can call a true life partner, and I found the man who is, in my eyes, perfect. When I say he’s perfect, I mean in a realistic sense. He’s not objectively perfect. I mean, what does that even mean?

But he has all the elements that I wanted in a partner, and ones that I didn’t realize I wanted but learned to love. He’s kind and compassionate, handsome and intelligent. He loves children and dogs, and will tolerate cats because I love them. He’s into working out but also loves to share a piece of cake. He will eat ice cream with me when we decide not to sleep and watch Netflix til morning. We listen to Edith Piaf and I even got him interested in watching full-length ballets like Giselle and Swan Lake. He’s willing to do anything for us, for our future, and he loves my family. …


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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Recently McDonald’s made headlines by stopping the use of plastic straws in many of their restaurants around the world. McDonald’s has both been applauded for this action and also heavily criticized by environmental groups claiming that the move was more for their PR image, as many have hopped onto the anti-plastic straw bandwagon since a video of a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose went viral. Here is a link to the original video by filmed by Christine Figgener, marine biologist at Texas A&M University.

Many have criticized the move, claiming McDonald’s is not doing enough as they still heavily use plastic in almost all their other products, everywhere from the toys in their happy meals to the plastic covers of their fountain drinks. …

About

Lera Nakshun

@lerachkajan Culture, Art, Lifestyle valeriyanakshun.com

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