Profile on Anya Firestone

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When ordinary mortals fall in love with Paris, they make it their business to uncover its secrets—visiting the museums, strolling through the different arrondissements, eating duck à l’orange, learning the language and generally immersing themselves in all the exquisite trappings of Parisian life. When an artist falls for Paris, well, anything is possible. Take 22-year-old Anya Firestone for example. Though New York-born and bred, she may well have been a member of Louis XIV’s royal entourage in a past life. Anya is an artiste in the full sense of the word. She writes, designs fashion, paints, dabbles in film and creates unique installations. Her long-standing and exuberant love affair with Paris is evident in all aspects of her art. Anya loves everything about French culture—whether it be the art, the literature, the fashion or the food. It is the latter which unexpectedly provided the inspiration for her delightful art installation completed during her artist residency in Paris Parsons School of Art last summer. Searching about for a means to express Paris in its entirety, the young artist began despairing of finding a means to artistically ‘possess’ Paris. It was while contemplating this dilemma over a cup of tea and delectable macaron cookie that she had her “aha” moment. “This small lovely elegant macaroon to me is emblematic of Paris,” Anya recalls. What if she recreated the iconic French macaron in a way which was totally her own? She could rob it of its smell, its taste, its texture and its very purpose if she took them out of context and into another scale dimension altogether. Her giant macarons are very recognizable for what they are but, to quote the artist herself, have been taken out of their “original ephemeral context to the indestructible realm of art.” The artist’s work immediately brought to mind Marcel Proust’s famous passage in Remembrance of Things Past (À la recherche du temps perdu) in which he describes with excruciating detail the smell and taste of a madeleine cookie, causing the narrator to experience a flood of involuntary memory. Here is the artist herself posing with her macaron installation in the Jardin de Luxembourg. It’s a toss-up as to which of the two is more delectable! From my perspective, I am grateful to have been born with an artist’s sensibility because life is filled with those “aha” moments. Paris allows everyone to experience these moments. It is a sensory playground. I first discovered Ms. Firestone by reading her short story Le Pulp Fiction in an anthology. I was hooked from the opening lines: This is the thing about Paris. It is far more romantic if you are an American in Paris with a hat on and say something French to someone French like bonjour, chouchou! to the pup in the glove shop. I am convinced we will be seeing and hearing more of Anya Firestone—she applies a keen intellect and enormous talent to all her creative pursuits. Despite multiple opportunities elsewhere, she has chosen to remain in Paris for the time being. Stay tuned to Bonjour Paris for some exclusive first-hand accounts about her life as an au pair… (Anya Firestone can be contacted at [email protected]) Poem excerpt, Le Pulp Fiction: (c) Anya Firestone 2010 Photo in the Jardin de Luxembourg (c) Caitlin Sundby 2010 Photo with Eiffel Tower: (c) Jennifer Apple Please visit our Amazon affiliate store for your shopping. Bonjour Paris has hand-selected some of our favorite travel gifts and gadgets for our readers… plus many Paris- and France-related books for children, travelers, scholars, and dreamers. zChocolat: “World’s Finest Chocolates by World-Champion Chocolatiers.” zChocolat’s selection is handmade by world-champion French chocolatiers following a 400-year-old tradition of passion and zealous adherence to purity. A single bite is an instant of pure seduction and sensory bliss one has never experienced before.
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Paris-born Lilianne Milgrom is an internationally acclaimed artist and author residing in the greater Washington, DC, area. Her works can be found in private and institutional collections in the United States, Australia, Israel, France, Switzerland, England, and India. Aside from her blog, she has written essays and articles for publications such as Ceramics Art and Perception, Ceramics Monthly, Bonjour Paris, Dans le ventre des femme and the Huffington Post. "L’Origine: The Secret Life of the World’s Most Erotic Masterpiece" (Little French Girl Press, 2020) is her first novel.