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The Art Curator
by Eric Suhem




Jillian was a curator at the city’s art museum. Ever since university study, Jillian had been a shining light in the world of art. Her hard work and innate sense of shape, form and color had propelled her into the upper echelons of art curation. Her unique feel for balance and proportion was a fulcrum for the museum’s many successful exhibitions.

Jillian had met the artist Pierce at a gallery reception. Becoming intrigued by Pierce’s theory of Slash Art, i.e. tearing up his own artwork to create a milieu for ‘creation rising from destruction’, she spent more time with him. One night back in Pierce’s studio, after an evening of gallery-hopping, they made love amidst his oil paints, torn canvasses, and blades. As Pierce climaxed, she looked up into his eyes, seeing tiny knives dance around in his pupils.


9 months later, Jillian gave birth to twins, the babies’ eyes gleaming as the nurse cut the umbilical cords with a sharp knife. Pierce looked lovingly at the twins as he informed Jillian that he would have to leave the country in a couple of days. “I have a commission for a performance art piece in Berlin to create and then slice up paintings of environmental degradation. It will be an important statement.”

“When will you be back?” asked Jillian.

“Well I have an exhibition in Tangier, and then another performance art piece in London, I should be home after that,” he said.

It would be two months later when the phone rang, and Jillian learned that Pierce had been stabbed to death in a Tangier back-alley knife fight, leaving her alone to raise the twins, whom they’d named Clovis and Chloe.

Though beset by tragedy, Jillian looked forward to raising her children. As Clovis and Chloe grew older, they crawled around the house, playing together peacefully and happily, though gravitating toward the knife drawer in the kitchen. Jillian added a lock to the drawer.

On her day off, Jillian had to make a brief stop at the museum, and she decided to take Clovis and Chloe with her. Getting a quick bite to eat at the museum cafeteria, Jillian checked her phone for messages as the twins took an interest in the plastic butter knives on the table, surreptitiously putting them in their pockets. On the way to the museum exit, Clovis and Chloe stopped at a painting and began to slice at its acrylic surface with the plastic butter knives. “Kids, stop that!” admonished Jillian, confiscating their knives and hurrying to the exit, as a security employee filmed the incident with his phone. That night, Jillian had a dream in which the day’s events went differently:

After an uneventful ride in the car, they arrived at the museum, whereupon their first view of a painting, the moppets’ genetic blades sprung forth. Inspired by their father Pierce, they scurried about, knocking vases off of the shelves, cackling as ceramics shattered on the stone floors. They moved on to another wing, playfully tearing into warmly-colored landscape paintings with small knives, while somehow also throwing smaller canvasses into a bonfire and wiring a detonation device to explode a group of sculptures. Jillian managed to herd the twins back into the car and drive them home, as they sliced up the car upholstery.

A few days later, Jillian received a severance notice from the museum, based on the security employee’s video footage. She wondered whether her career as an art curator had been cut to pieces. While cooking dinner, Jillian looked out her kitchen window at women who positively glowed with the responsibility of childrearing, pushing strollers down the street. “Thanks for helping me fix the salad, kids,” said Jillian as Clovis and Chloe wielded the knives expertly, the gleaming steel blades a blur of motion, chopping and slicing up the cucumbers, eggplants and carrots.




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