The WANT Women: Artist Delia Brown On “Making It,” True Love, And Songs About Cancer

The WANT Women: Artist Delia Brown On “Making It,” True Love, And Songs About Cancer

Over 200 of you tuned in on the very first DAY of the WANTcast! The very first DAY! Considering I was hoping maybe one or two people other than my mom, dad, and grandma would love it…your emails, tweets, and little notes have absolutely made my week.

If you haven’t met this WANT Wonder Woman yet, brace yourself. Delia Brown is the inaugural guest on the WANTcast, and I honestly could not have planned a better episode if I’d tried. If you haven’t listened yet, click over to iTunes and get your subscribe button on.

A little back story on Delia, for those who didn’t meet her on Tuesday: Delia Brown is winning at life. Quite literally. When I first met Delia a few years back, she had one of those electric personalities I knew I just needed to have in my friend circle. As I really got to know her – and to know Delia is to have her candid, open soul truly WITH you every single time you’re together – these little bits of information started to trickle out about her life.

When she mentioned a painting project with The Real Housewives, my ears perked but I didn’t think much of it. Just another situation of Delia being Delia, making friends wherever she goes. Um, yes, but nope.

Delia, it turns out, was a bona-fide PAINTER painter. Like the kind of painter that you learn about growing up who “made it” during their lifetime. Like the kind of painter art collectors revere. Like the kind of painter I wanted to be when I was a kid, only couldn’t conceptualize for myself and so I let it go.

Add to that her rap career (she opened for Wu Tang Clan as The Fuzz – lucky for us, Delia’s uploaded their demo from 1993 here!), her appearance on The Young And The Restless, her knack for deep ocean swimming…plus her recent battle with Stage III Uterine Cancer earlier this year (she’s in remission as of a couple weeks ago), and you can see why I say she is WINNING at this whole “life” thing.

Delia has inspired me in too many ways to count, but the biggest one is that she’s made me see my life as, like she says in the podcast, a “little more shiny.” There’s a little more magic in my days now because of the way that Delia has shared her journey with me, and I hope – no, I know – she’ll do the same for you.

Meet her below, then listen to her on the WANTcast here. And while you’re at it, take a peek at her works below: little snippets of life, fantastical, thoughtful, and real; a commentary on who we are and who we can be.

WANT Delia.
delia-brown


Name: Delia Brown


How you’d know me: You might know me as the artist who upset New York Times critics by painting myself and my homegirls as bored, louche, Beverly Hills housewives, 10 years before there was a Bravo reality show about such women. Or as a former rapper who once opened on-stage for the WuTang Clan before you ever heard of them. Or maybe you’ve had your ass handed to you in one of my cycling class at Equinox ;)


What I love about myself (and why): I love that I am not afraid of being alone, and that I enjoy my own company.


What is your definition of “positivity?” It’s a way of being in the world in which you see the universe as your friend. And it requires discipline. It is much easier to slip into glass-half-empty thinking.

 

This series, Last Exit: Punta Junta, is a series that took place on the tiny Caribbean island of St Barth. I was invited by the exclusive hotel Eden Rock to spend a week there, and was given use of their private villas to guerrilla lounge in. My two girlfriends (Katya and Raina) and I pretended we were revolutionaries who had overtaken the vacation villas as bivouacs where we'd plan our coup, drinking mini-bar champagne as we plotted to reclaim the island for the native people.
This series, Last Exit: Punta Junta, is a series that took place on the tiny Caribbean island of St Barth. I was invited by the exclusive hotel Eden Rock to spend a week there, and was given use of their private villas to guerrilla lounge in. My two girlfriends (Katya and Raina) and I pretended we were revolutionaries who had overtaken the vacation villas as bivouacs where we’d plan our coup, drinking mini-bar champagne as we plotted to reclaim the island for the native people.

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” In high school I remember loving myself somewhat, but still feeling very split: There was the lovable side, but there was also a side that needed to be destroyed (the part that didn’t match what my ego wanted). I still struggle with total self-acceptance, but I can certainly say that the older I get, the more okay I am with all of my parts. When you no longer see yourself as split, when your parts feel truly integrated (when it’s not You Against Your Body, or The Awesome You vs. The Lame You, etc), you stop being such a harsh critic. I’ve had a couple of really wonderful therapists who helped me with that a lot.


How/where negative talk shows up in my life: When I get frustrated with friends and find myself venting about it to other friends, I feel icky, like I’m stuck in middle school in perpetuity. With time, I have gotten pretty good about just coming out and expressing my frustrations in a loving manner, where the listener can hear me without getting defensive. I am on a mission to abolish passive-aggressiveness in my own life. -@deliabrown Click To Tweet


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… An internalization of something I think appears wrong to the outside world (like, that I’m not successful enough, or not thin enough). It’s caring too much about how others view me. We have no idea how others perceive us! It’s a terrible barometer.


When others talk negatively about themselves… It breaks my heart.


It baffles me that women still… Buy into very commercial and ridiculous ideas about beauty.


I wish that more women… Had true confidence.

 

This is inspired by a poem of Sappho, lol. I wanted to do an ancient Greek series that was female-centered. My friend Suzanne Bennett (also a painter) was the model. 2010. Photo credit: Genevieve Hanson
This is inspired by a poem of Sappho, lol. I wanted to do an ancient Greek series that was female-centered. My friend Suzanne Bennett (also a painter) was the model. 2010. Photo credit: Genevieve Hanson

The coolest thing about women is… How we share sensitive, personal things about ourselves, and make intimate bonds with each other.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Make up a silly song about it. I’ve got a great number about cancer that requires jazz hands and a very loud voice. It gets my friends and family into hysterics.


My top female role models: Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Cassatt, Dorothea Tanning: phenomenal, bold, painters who did their thing with verve and guts in historical moments that did not embrace women artists (not that things are all that much better today!).


Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… Hmm…I’m not sure! Maybe this one is just on us!


Favorite negativity-busting activity: Splashing in the waves (just got back from an ocean dip!). Also, blasting a favorite jam and dancing like a maniac.


Fave self-love ritual: Bubble bath with salts from Soaptopia & a glass of vino.


Favorite feel-good food(s): Feel good in the moment? Nachos (preferably served with a margarita)!!! Feel good without regret? The baked salmon covered in fresh herbs that my mom makes


Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: I just saw Trainwreck. Insta-fave! My go-to feel-good is a TV show: Portlandia (so good!)

 

Reading at the Caribou Club, 2007, oil on wood panel photo: Genevieve Hanson from the series Guerrilla Lounging: Aspen
Reading at the Caribou Club, 2007, oil on wood panel. Photo: Genevieve Hanson. From the series Guerrilla Lounging: Aspen

Favorite empowering book(s): Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. SUPER inspiring.


My feel-good playlist: It changes all the time, but at the moment I’m a bit obsessed with BøRNS (the EP is called Candy), and the new Pharrell song Freedom.


Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: Don’t worry, you will eventually have almost as much hair as a normal person.
…14 year-old self: Don’t copy your friend who makes herself throw-up after she eats. It’s not a good idea.
…24 year old self: You’re really, really, really young still. Don’t freak out that you haven’t “made it” yet. It would be weird to have “made it” by your age. You don’t wanna peak when you’re still a baby!


5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: Learn to surf (with my 8-yr-old niece), do a 10-day silent meditation retreat, participate in an ayahuasca ceremony, have a solo exhibition at a major museum, travel the world with a man I’m madly in love with (maybe he will even be my husband!).


My best tip on self love: When you don’t care for yourself, you hurt…and when you hurt, you hurt those around you. Therefore it is actually the only responsible thing to do, to love yourself. It is your duty. Get to it!
No excuses: the perfection you aspire to…IS. Already. Click To Tweet


When I truly love all of myself… I’m really okay with my life, as it already is.


Right now, I am most excited about… Being alive.


My body is: My best friend.


Three words to describe me: Good way crazy.


Current mantra: Dear Cancer, You’ve been an interesting interlocutor. You have opened my eyes to many important truths. Alas, you have shown me my true love — LIFE — in a way I have never seen him before. He is magnificent. I would like to spend as many years frolicking with him as I possibly can. Therefore, I must bid you adieu, with sincere thanks, and a sincere desire to NEVER SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN, SUCKA!


…and just for fun:

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