Still Life by Monica Nelson

Still Life by Monica Nelson

The way I live with objects is the same way I live with ideas, I lean and stack them.

I moved to Savannah, Georgia last summer from NYC to write two books, which has been a process of collecting, of leaning and stacking, seeing how ideas fit together. My apartment is old and airy and I have two mantels that I lean things on. I’ve never been someone that has a lot of things, but I appreciate accumulation, I like to watch things stack. I’ve found that love leans into accumulation, dissonance often creates truth, and the odd things tend to fall away over time.

Townes on the Mantel

This photograph is a still from the film Heartworn Highways where Townes Van Zandt plays “Waiting Around to Die” and this man beside him, Seymour, cries. This moment is beautiful and heartbreaking, it speaks to the layers of story within song, especially in the American South. 

Too Many Books

I mostly live surrounded by stacks of books. This little stack has been important to me lately. Both of the books I’m working on look at cultural history, one about edible flowers and the other looks at house museums in the American South. 

The book at the bottom is Sarah M. Broom’s, The Yellow House, a memoir told through her family house in New Orleans. In Between Past and Future, Hannah Arendt says “our heritage was left to us with no testament,” which is something I think about often: our ever-confounding present narrative! And also what architect Peter Zumthor and historian Mari Lending discuss in The Feeling of History. Zumthor says “everything I see is history.”  They talk in depth about the limits of memory and an idea Josef Albers wrote of “actual and factual facts,” where the factual is static and the actual changes with time. I recently re-read The Women by Hilton Als after finishing Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives Beautiful Experiments, because I kept being reminded of it. Als’ view is always hard and soft, actual and factual, and so much more.

Baby’s Breath

I have such an affinity for this dumb filler flower lately. Its messy little puffs talk to me in a completely non-important way. I like staring at an Iris or watching a Tulip droop like everyone else, but Baby’s Breath just sits there like a little blur.


Monica Nelson is a designer, writer, and editor. Pictured is the Pouch in Nero