Blog / 2019 / Magic IRL

March 4, 2019

I talk more about the way that, even outside of intimate relationships, we end up playing roles for each other in this article. This video tells of how I ended up casting someone in the role of “monster” in my life, and it shows some of my high school art.

Empathetic Magic will be displayed in April at Lyceum Hall in Burlington, New Jersey!

Opening Reception: Friday, April 5th from 7 to 9 PM
Open: April 1st through 29th by appointment

Lyceum Hall
432 High Street
Burlington City, NJ 08016

portraits of two black women
Gwenn Seemel
Spotlight (Blue and Molly Fitting In) and Love (Blue and Molly Standing Out)
acrylic on bird’s eye piqué
each painting 18 inches in diameter

Each of the diptychs in Empathetic Magic comes with a statement about how I know the subjects. The following is the statement that goes with these two double portraits:

Molly could probably tell I was anxious. Looking back, I can see that’s almost certainly why she started talking with me. We were at a gallery event where I would be doing a little speech. I was muttering to myself, trying to work out what I’d say. The moment Molly appeared, all that fell away. Shortly afterwards, Blue arrived and immediately launched into a million questions, an approach that I would come to discover was her specialty.

From the start, I knew I was inviting them to be a part of my series so I could have an excuse to get to know them better. It only worked out as well as it did because Molly found excuses too. She offered to give me a ride home so I didn't have to take the bus after a photo-session. Later, she asked me to help her make a painting for Blue, and we met weekly at my studio.

Meanwhile, Blue had her own way of making excuses. She would invite my partner and me to her performances, and also ask my sweetie to play bass at some of her gigs. But her approach could be more direct too. After one of the interviews we did, she said suddenly, “do you have friends?” And then, “will you be my friend?”

The portraits of Blue and Molly are for sale for $1800 each—see all currently available artworks. You can purchase prints from my Redbubble shop.


Receive an email every six weeks with announcements about books, talks, and events.


Receive an email whenever I publish a new artwork or article.



Microdonations are the fuel powering this art machine. You can give once through Ko-fi.


Or you can give on an ongoing basis automatically through Patreon.