Slow Dancing with Fire: A Memoir of Resilience
by Brahna Yassky
As an emerging young painter in New York City, Brahna Yassky lived her dream, working full-time as an artist and supporting herself with her work, attending art openings and going to clubs, and painting scenery in theaters. In 1982 a flame shot up from her stove and burned 55% of her body. In Slow Dancing with Fire Yassky chronicles the day she was burned, the three months she spent in the burn unit enduring an arduous healing process, and the next full year of physical and occupational therapy. She feared she might never paint again or have an independent life. Would any man ever find her attractive enough to want a relationship? Over time Yassky's resilient spirit guided her to build a new life. She earned credentials as an art therapist and helped others heal from their traumas by engaging with the creative process. She adopted a daily practice of swimming, both as a meditation and a way to loosen scar contractions. The New York City Department of Health commissioned her to create a mural on the outside of a building in the South Bronx and posters for every subway car. She joined the Guerrilla Girls, a women’s artist activist collective whose mission was to fight racism and sexism in the art world. She wrote and directed a film about the day she was burned, casting an actress to play herself, thus objectifying the experience and eliminating her personal identity as a burn victim. And finally, she married a man she never would have dated before the fire because his greatest attributes were kindness and nurturance, not coolness and worldly success. Her story encourages the belief that building a resilient spirit and healing our wounds and traumas are not only possible but exhilirating.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
ISBN: 978-1-956056-27-3 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Brahna Yassky came to the written word through her paintings when she started writing stories about the images she created. Slow Dancing with Fire is her debut book. Her essays have been published in The Plentitudes Journal, American Writers Review 2020, Wired, The Independent, Salon, AARP’s The Ethel, among others. Trained as a visual artist at California College of the Arts and San Francisco State University, her work has been exhibited widely, including at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Jersey City Museum, The Hudson River Museum, The Bali Purnati Center. She also received commissions from the New York City Department of Health for public art projects. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and East Hampton, New York.
“Brahna Yassky was a promising young artist when a devastating accident nearly destroyed her life. Slow Dancing with Fire is a moving and profoundly creative journey toward healing, renewal, and joy.”
“A brave and compelling memoir, a testimony to the human spirit brought vividly to life by the author’s artistic eye. You will feel better and stronger for having read it.”
“This profoundly moving, beautifully written memoir tells the story of a gifted American painter's trial by fire and emergence from her dark night of the soul into a new way of seeing. A meditation on mortality, creativity, and the cult of beauty, Slow Dancing With Fire will renew your faith in the power of the human spirit to prevail through great pain and emerge victorious. I recommend this book to anyone seeking inspiration for how to survive—and thrive—against the odds, while holding their muse close to the heart. Yassky's brave testament deserves a place on your bookshelf. Read this book!”
“Passionate and wise, Slow Dancing with Fire is a testament to the power of love, evoking a New York when it seemed anything was possible. Brahna Yassky became an early member of one of the most significant art collectives (The Guerilla Girls) of the last century. What an amazing life.”
Jennifer Lang, “A Review of Brahna Yassky’s Slow Dancing with Fire,” Brevity, May 20, 2022
Interview on WKPN Community Radio Podcast (second half)
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