Alison Cornyn with her dog
Alison Cornyn with her dog Argos

A Q&A with Artist and Activist Alison Cornyn

Age: 53

Basic bio: Alison Cornyn is a Brooklyn-based artist, teacher, social justice activist, and mother of two teenage daughters. She runs Picture Projects studio and advocates for the rights of self-identifying women and girls in and out of the criminal justice system, especially those who are Incorrigible.

Beyond the bio: My current mission is to spread the word about New York’s Child Victims Act ‘Lookback Window’; a one year period (extended to two years due to Covid) in which anyone, of any age, who was sexually abused as a child in New York can file a civil case against their abuser or the institution that should have protected them from abuse. The window closes on August 14, 2021!

What makes you a grown-ass lady? I used to have an alter ego (named Simone) who I would channel when people were mistreating me. Simone was my protector and defender. My daughter is convinced that Simone and I have finally merged. As a grown-ass lady, my eyes are open wide to systemic abuse and inequities in power. The sexual abuse of children, often by the people they depend on, is an ongoing crisis.

1. On the nightstand: A folder labeled “to read” with clippings going back further than I want to admit, Books! Melisa Febos’ Girlhood, Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Marie Forleo’s Everything is Figureoutable, sage, ceramics made by my daughters, and often a cat attempting to drink from my water glass.

2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Looking for 4-leaf clovers. Guerilla stickering to spread the word about NY’s CVA. Ending Incorrigible in the Senate. (Governor Cuomo just signed the bill!)

3. Jam of the minute: Ella Wylde’s singing produced by Drew Dixon Williams.

4. Thing I miss: My mom. My mother passed away in November which has left a hole in my world. But we were all with her and she was at peace. And I found a folder she had left with a design for her funeral card with the Rumi quote: How could the soul not take flight When from the glorious Presence A soft call flows sweet as honey‭,‬ comes right up to her And whispers‭,‬ “Rise up now‭, ‬come away‭.‬”

5. ’80s crush: Kirlian photography.

6. Current crush: Epigenetics, Rhythm studies.

7. Latest fave find: Sue Johnson’s The Pleasure Report.

8. Last thing I lost: 20 pounds and I found my way back to yoga. 

9. Best thing that happened recently: Synchronicities are always the best things that ever happen. Awaiting the next. 

10. Looking forward to: Meeting people IRL, hugs, publishing the Incorrigibles book.

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