Nina Gaby

Essays, art, and healthcare

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New Views from the Memory Motel

New Views from the Memory MotelThe Vermont Book Arts Guild exhibit opens this Thursday, February 15 and runs through March 18. Hosting this exhibit is the University of Vermont Living/Learning Gallery in Burlington. From my artist statement:

“New Views from the Memory Motel”

The Three Dimensional Art of Memoir: transparency, translucency, opacity

“transparent translucent opaque transparent translucent opaque transparent” is printed on vellum rolled around a page of quotes. Stuck in a porcelain scroll. “There are shards stuck in our unconscious we don’t even know about until they surface.” Shards of porcelain surround the grouping of scrolls and containers that make up the series New View from the Memory Motel. There really is a Memory Motel, I found it while visiting a friend in Montauk and took some photos, and voila, a new series was born. Much of what we hold on to is bittersweet so I quote Abigail Thomas: “The word memory comes from the same root as the word mourn, and that should tell you something.”

 And from Jenny Kerber, “Writing in Dust” 2010: “The memoir can also serve as a form of testimonial, bearing witness not only to the particularities of a place at a moment in its history but also to the writer’s conscious commitment to it. The Latin root of memoir, however, also reminds us of the proximity of remembrance to mourning. Even as memoria tries to keep something or someone alive, its substance often only amounts to a pale shadow of what has already been lost.”

Elements: Porcelain pages, various handmade papers, fabric, threads, charms, milagros, encaustic, ephemera, original artwork and text as the basis for the written word, also incorporating micro-essays, quotes and pieces of memoir via vintage Letra-Set, stamps, and inkjet printing.  Photo by Ben DeFlorio

Read my guest blog about the piece and the process in July on


 Nina Gaby is a writer, visual artist, and psychiatric nurse practitioner living in Northern New England. She has contributed to numerous anthologies and periodicals, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as prose poetry and articles. Her first book, “Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women,” was published in 2015 by She Writes Press. Most recently her creative nonfiction has appeared on Kevin MD, in Intima: a Journal of Narrative Medicine, The Best of the Burlington Writer’s Workshop, and in “Mothering Through Darkness.” Her work is upcoming in the collections “Second Blooming” and “How Does That Make You Feel?” She has guest blogged on a number of sites including, and infrequently on her own website at Her sculptural porcelain is in the National Collection of the Renwick at the Smithsonian, and Arizona State University permanent collections. Gaby’s three dimensional memoir vessels explore transparency/translucency/ and opacity in mixed media including the written word and have been exhibited recently in several regional gallery shows, including the juried show “Unbound V” and “The Art of Place” which she co-curated at Chandler Center for the Arts this past winter.




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Personally I can’t wait to get to New Hampshire tomorrow

votes for women

Personally I can’t wait to get to New Hampshire tomorrow. And this is why. Hillary. But stay with me here, I’m very much alone (I live in Vermont.)

I got heart and mind invested. Let’s get this out of the way: it may be my last chance to ever see a woman elected president in my own country. As a feminist from the womb, it’s crucial, so much so that I once even considered campaigning for Elizabeth Dole. Very briefly. But mind over heart in these end times. End times. The repubs get in and we further erode the environment, separation of church and state, and any respect we have left on the world stage. I envision Christian-Fundamentalist-imposed burquas for all women of childbearing age within the next 15 years, but then again, I’m of a hyperbolic nature (except no one saw it coming in Teheran either.) Don’t get me wrong, I love Bernie’s message, it resonates. My husband and I lost almost everything in 2002, I feel the greed and lack of controls on Wall Street acutely and still do every day as we continue to crawl back. But to claim that a president can revolutionize our banking system is pie-in-the-sky. There is just so much that a president can do, it’s a democracy. Hands will be tied.

Jonathan Chait from the New Yorker says it much better than I: Those areas in which a Democratic Executive branch has no power are those in which Sanders demands aggressive action, and the areas in which the Executive branch still has power now are precisely those in which Sanders has the least to say. The president retains full command of foreign affairs; can use executive authority to drive social policy change in areas like criminal justice and gender; and can, at least in theory, staff the judiciary. What the next president won’t accomplish is to increase taxes, expand social programs, or do anything to reduce inequality, given the House Republicans’ fanatically pro-inequality positions across the board.”

Enter Hillary with her brilliant understanding of foreign affairs. My god, she knows all the world leaders and likely knows all their kids names and birthdays. What I don’t want is a president that can’t do much- no matter how good the original message may be, leaving us even more crippled in the larger arena. And yes, I’ve loved Hillary since I took my baby daughter to meet her when she came to meet with us nurses back in my hometown over two decades ago, wanting to know what was wrong with health care. She fought a valiant fight that is only bearing fruit two decades later, starting when the Millenials were still babies. My point? She’s still around. Still brilliant, tough, presidential. So it’s not like I have time to join a campaign (I’m tired and can’t afford to retire) especially one that will make me even more unpopular with my Vermont neighbors, and it’s not just about meeting Al Franken tomorrow in New Hampshire, although that will be very cool. It’s that, like in so many campaigns before, starting with local campaigns as a kid, even before Eugene McCarthy, even before I could vote, I have no choice. And if Bernie gets the nom nod, you betcha. Him too.