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What Independence?

July, 2022

Can Art Bring Back Joy?

Independence Day, in my family, meant steamed clams and lobster. Corn on the cob. Yummy veggies, straight from Dad’s garden, in an abundant green salad. Mom’s awesome blueberry or strawberry-rhubarb pie a la mode. Togetherness. Laughter. Joy.

While the rest of America might’ve been relishing our country’s independence, our primary focus was celebrating my parents’ wedding anniversary. We’d often joke about the irony of getting married, in 1942, on a day that celebrates independence. Oxymoron to the max!

Eighty years later, July 4th came and went without that kind of sumptuous feast or gathering. I’d gotten used to that over the years since my parents’ death. Until this year, Independence Day was still one of my favorite national holidays. But dangit, the Supreme Court went and messed that up . . . at least for those of us with two x chromosomes.

It’s a rough time to be a female. It was already a rough time to be a racial, sexual or religious minority. When joy feels elusive, can you still come up with something cheerful to say or point out? Sometimes, I can, but today, I can’t. I feel worried. Pissed off. Frightened for our country and the direction in which it seems to be headed. And even more afraid for women of childbearing age.

What kind of independence will be left to celebrate in July of 2023, or 2053, or 2083?

What can we DO? What can we BE? I’ll leave it to those with far more expertise to answer these questions. For now, I turn to art. Making it. And appreciating it (scroll down to this month’s Prompts for Joy for a few examples).

I can't send you a strawberry-rhubarb pie (other than the photo of one, above), but I can send this message in the form of a collage to every female on the planet, especially those who don multiple hats with grace and courage. It’s actually a message for men, too . . . just replace “your” with “her.”

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15th Birthday

The first issue of this blog was sent out in June 2007! It was named Out on a Limb soon thereafter via a subscriber contest won by poet, Amber Sumrall. I can’t believe the Limb is already a fifteen-year-old adolescent. I am so grateful for those of you who have been devoted readers for all these years. Thank you for your time, attention, comments, and suggestions!

Assembling a Life

My father’s art has always been a source of joy and comfort . . . even in down or depressing times. My memoir, Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself), tells the story. Loaded with color photos (and some black and white) on just about every page, it’s a visual feast.

Click here for a short video about what motivated me to write this book.

Click here for book reviews.

To purchase Assembling a Life (premium softcover or e-book), click here.


I occasionally post collages created long ago, such as the one below, or those more recently completed, on Instagram. Click here if you'd like to follow me. If you already do, thanks!


Prompts For Joy

As is often the case, the focus this month is on music: one of my favorite, natural anti-depressants.

Click here for Keb’ Mo’ and Rosanne Cash’s proposed solution to these troubling times.

(Thank you, Kim Scala!)

Click here because Jon Batiste is simply a national treasure.

Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.


About the Photos

Top: Mmmmmmmiguel's Awesome Pie. Photo by Martha Clark Scala.

Next: Respect Your Miraculous Excellence. Collage by Martha Clark Scala.

Next: Book cover, Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself)

Next: Look Hard for Light Everywhere. Collage by Martha Clark Scala.


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