Nothing Is a Cure (Pre-Orders)
a graphic novel
by Jeff Horwat
paperback, 170 pages
Jeff Horwat’s wordless graphic novel immerses readers in a surreal world of labyrinthine perplexities. Driven by personal anguish, the protagonist (whom the author has named Charlie) explores a disorienting checker-board terrain that is strewn with bones even as vines and flowers burst through the cracks. Charlie encounters a series of beings and objects—birds, a broken teacup, flower pots, a tree—that speak symbolically to his existential emptiness. On his path to recovery, he is misled, attacked, and left in awe by various wind-up animals who complicate his search for answers.
As Horwat describes in the Author's Statement, Nothing Is a Cure reflects his experiences and struggles in the midst of intense anxiety. Horwat turned to art-making to explore his own existential crisis. Informed by Buddhist meditation techniques and the psychological insights of Jacques Lacan, he began to see how the objects from his memories might resonate symbolically. Painted images that he had first created as stand-alone revelations from his recovery process eventually coalesced in his imagination into a dynamic symbolic world. Although the black-and-white ink wash paintings were not originally intended to form a linear narrative, once he had viewed them on the gallery walls, Horwat noticed new connections among them and was inspired to fill in the gaps to create a story.
Horwat achieves a vision that is at once poignantly idiosyncratic and widely appealing, a story about the discovery of inner solace within the emptiness of experience. Through the protagonist’s challenging encounters, Nothing Is a Cure presents the paradoxical realization that the acceptance of loss can open us to a vast otherness that fills us with life and wonder.
Drawn mostly in striking single-panel pages, Nothing Is a Cure offers us meditations on anxiety and self-acceptance in a wordless, dream-like allegorical memoir. This is an introspective and personal story; by focusing on small, domestic totems of fragility (a wind-up toy, a broken tea cup, a potted plant), Horwat has created a graphic novel of visceral insight and empathy that allows the reader to feel the pervasive fear and uncertainty of a life dominated by anxiety, and the peace found when it is managed.
—Marnie Galloway, author of In the Sounds and Seas and Particle/Wave
Horwat’s stylistic approach combines contemporary visual practices with psychoanalytic theory. This is a rare artistic text that makes a psychological journey—with all of its stresses and joys, and starts and stops—visible to those who turn its pages.
—Laura Hetrick, Co-Editor, Visual Arts Research Journal
About the Author
Jeff Horwat is an artist, teacher, and scholar from Eastern Pennsylvania. His creative research explores the intersections of wordless narratives, psychoanalytic theory, and arts-based research. Before earning a PhD in art education at the University of Illinois, he taught high school art in Massachusetts while drawing and painting imagery that would later inspire Nothing Is a Cure. He has published his visual scholarship in academic journals such as Visual Arts Research, Art/Research International, and Artizein: Arts and Teaching Journal, and has exhibited artwork in Boston, New York, Hartford, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Sacramento. Jeff currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife Stephanie Rieder and two children, Maya and Simone.