No Sisters, No Dentist, No Bourbon

Let me tell you a story about Braddock.

When I was 27, I scheduled, booked, and promoted a four-month, cross-country round-trip/tour. In addition to playing shows, I volunteered at a couple of WWOOF farms along the way, in exchange for a place to stay. That’s how I wound up working the urban farm in the mostly abandoned town of Braddock, PA, right beside their last operating steel mill, and staying in a former convent.

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One Hundred in One Thousand

Years ago I came across a website that encouraged people to make a list of 100 things they wanted to accomplish in the next 1000 days. The site also tried to foster a sort of Goodreads-style community around the concept. I wasn’t interested in joining the site itself, but I did make a list. I am not unique in finding list-making to be a helpful way of organizing thoughts and making plans. Unfortunately, at the time, I was in no place to be planning let alone executing the next 1000 days of my life! But that was years ago, and I think it’s about time I give it a more thoughtful and healthy go.

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The Medievalist Wife & The Philosopher Husband Go to New York: A Long-Overdue Update

Hello out there. I’ve been away for quite awhile, and I’m not sorry to say that I haven’t completed my little publication. I’m not sorry, because I’ve been very busy getting up to things such as….

Continue reading “The Medievalist Wife & The Philosopher Husband Go to New York: A Long-Overdue Update”

Studies, Etchings, a Veil, and “Witches”

In my stats, I’ve seen visitors to my little shop, which, of course, is empty at the moment. The first zine is fully written and underway, and I’ll keep updating the status of those projects here. In the meantime, this is what has been keeping me so busy! :

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“I prayed and fasted. I read the mystics. I studied the martyrs…”

An Introduction

My name is Alana Solomon and I am an artist, writer, and Binghamton undergrad majoring in medieval and early modern history.
I was raised in central California and Seattle, Washington. This blog is my journal, as well as a space for documenting creative processes and art projects and sharing sources of inspiration.
Here is the ever-evolving blogroll, and a bibliography of sources cited in posts.


I grew up surrounded by artists and musicians, and my background is in the anarchist/punk scene.  I spent a good part of my 20’s traveling the US and living in communal houses/squats/outdoors/in a van/etc. The general DIY ethos of these early experiences continues to inform my work.

Above, left: On my way to the Hermiston trainyard, 2001.
Right: Stopping for a coffee break while touring, 2009.

In my early 20’s I became interested writings about trauma and the body, particularly Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery as well as the works of Elaine Scarry and Carolyn Walker Bynum. Through Bynum’s  Holy Feast and Holy Fast, I became aware of the writings of Catherine of Siena and other medieval/early-modern Christian mystics. I knew these women weren’t backwards, superstitious teenagers from some dark age, but brilliant, capable women, and their words resonated with me beyond those of the many heroes and influences I’d known before.

Saints Catherine of Siena, Clare of Assisi, and Teresa of Avila, from the 2016 street series.

I attempted to get to the heart and root of their revelations and beliefs while pretending that they came to their conclusions independently (or in spite of) their religiousity. However, it became became increasingly obvious that this was intellectually, philosophically, and spiritually dishonest, and that their faith was not merely a circumstance  of their own culture, time, and place which they couldn’t avoid. In trying to understand these women, I was setting aside the very foundation and heart of the matter. Examining their lives and experiences as an integrated whole- and actually listening to them- became the germinal point for a series of extreme changes in my life, including converting (or rather, it turns out, reverting) to the Catholic faith, as well as my return to the classroom and my eventual academic path.

2014-01-15-studiedAbove: Diary page, 2013. Anne Carson quote and etching of chapel door (artist unknown).


I have conceived of  shop as a place to show any writings or artworks of mine (paintings, prayer cards, sewn works, or other artworks) on offer for purchase. I would consider works by others in the future, from research to zine-style compilations and personal stories, particularly on topics such as trauma, travel, apologetics, poetry, and creative endeavors. All booklets, pamphlets, chapbooks, and zines must be carefully curated, beautifully designed and formatted, simply printed, and affordable. In time, I’d consider featuring classic material on and by Saints and Catholic authors of note, as well as general Catechesis and information on practices for laypersons. I am particularly interested in the early Desert Mothers, mystics, and women of the medieval Church.

These booklets may or may not have an overtly Catholic viewpoint (for example, books of poetry or artworks), so long as they do not actively promote ideals counter to the loyalty of this Press to the Roman Catholic Church and the preservation, protection, development, refinement, and promulgation of Christ’s Church on earth.

Thank you for your interest.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Print.

Carson, Anne. Plainwater: Essays and Poetry. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
Herman, Judith Lewis. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1992.
Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “”I prayed and fasted. I read the mystics. I studied the martyrs…”.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 25 Sept. 2016.