Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs
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What People are Saying about Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs

“Just like at a good movie, I laughed, I cried, I got hungry. We left satisfied…”
Get Visual (Blog)
“…little bit manic and extremely funny…”
Sebastian Smee, Boston Globe
“Roz Chast came out drawing. She admits as much.”
Albany Times Union
“If anyone could pull laughs from the burden of caring for aging parents, it would be Roz Chast”
Berkshire Eagle
“Will include a lot of personal memorabilia and photographs that should resonate with Chast’s fans”
Hill County Observer

In her first memoir, long-time New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet,” with predictable results, the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies, focusing on an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia, and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined the artist for decades, the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home to live within the confines of an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care. An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller. The exhibition will also feature additional artworks representing the breadth of the artist’s career, including her legendary art for The New Yorker, children’s picture books, intricately-painted eggs, and hand-made storytelling rugs.

The Wheel of Doom
Roz Chast,Wheel of Doom, 2014. Illustration for
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
(Bloomsbury, USA, New York). Watercolor and ink on paper.
Collection of the artist.

New Yorker & Other Cartoons

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Roz Chast is the only child of two educators who subscribed to The New Yorker and inspired her art and world view – her strong-willed mother, Elizabeth, and her gentle, worrywart father, George, who were in the same fifth grade class. Chast studied painting and printmaking at Kirkland College in upstate New York, and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design, but did not feel free to explore car- tooning fully until after graduation. Her earliest drawings were published in Christopher Street,The Village Voice, and later, National Lampoon.

In 1978, The New Yorker accepted her first submission, a small collection of “Little Things” that stood apart from the cartoons generally associated with the magazine. As a young artist, she gathered a collection of original drawings, “put them in a portfolio, and dropped it off with my little card. I came back to pick them up the next week and there was a note from the cartoon editor [Lee Lorenz], which completely floored me. He said to start coming back every week, so I did.” Since then, more than eight hundred of Chast’s artworks have been published by The New Yorker. Though she covers all manner of subjects in her art, she particularly enjoys drawing interior scenes, replete with elaborate wallpapers and furnishings – a conspiracy of inanimate objects” reminiscent of her early life. Chast’s cartoons have also appeared in Scientific American, the Harvard Business Review, Redbook, and Mother Jones, among others.

When I’m drawing, I’m thinking “what do I think is funny, what’s making me laugh, what’s getting to me?”

-Roz Chast

Scientist
(Ice Cream) 1986;
Cover illustration for The New Yorker, August 4, 1986;
Watercolor and ink on paper; Courtesy of Roz Chast and Danese/Corey, New York
Seed Packets

Seed Packets
1987;
Cover illustration for The New Yorker, June 1, 1987;
Watercolor and ink on paper; Courtesy of Roz Chast and Danese/Corey, New York
Thanksgiving in a Can

Thanksgiving (In a Can)
1991;
Cover illustration for The New Yorker, December 2, 1991;
Watercolor and ink on paper; Courtesy of Roz Chast and Danese/Corey, New York
Turf War

The War on 49th Street 2006; Illustration for The New Yorker,
August 28, 2006; Ink on paper;
Courtesy of Roz Chast and Danese/Corey, New York
Lourdes: The Cosmetic Surgery Chapel

Lourdes: The Cosmetic Surgery Chapel n.d.;
Ink on paper; Courtesy of Roz Chast and Danese/Corey, New York
Doris K. Elston

Doris K. Elston c. 2008; First version published in The New Yorker, May 18, 1987;
Watercolor and ink on paper;
Courtesy of Roz Chast and Danese/Corey, New York

Cant we talk about something more pleasant?

Her first graphic memoir, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? has garnered acclaim for its grimly funny and deeply poignant exam- ination of end-of-life issues as she experienced them with her elderly parents. Dedicated professional educators before their retirement, Elizabeth and George Chast were temperamentally dissimilar but intensely devoted to one another. The artist’s poignant tale, punctuated by moments of hilarity, traces their physical and cognitive decline, from “The Beginning of the End” to “The End,” examining the complexities of her relationship with them through the years.

A 2014 National Book Award Finalist for Non-Fiction, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is also the winner of the prestigious National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Autobiography and the Kirkus Prize for Non-Fiction. The book, and Chast’s artistic contributions, were recognized in 2015 with a Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities. Of the effort, Chast notes that, “I didn’t want to forget how they talked and I didn’t want to forget how they were….Some of the stories that emerged were hilarious, but also heartbreaking, and they became a record of my experience with them. To know that others felt the book meant something to them – I’m very happy about that.”

My cartoons tell the story of things that have happened in my life.

-Roz Chast
Cheese Danish

Cheese Danish, 2014.
Illustration for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
(Bloomsbury, USA, New York). Watercolor and ink on paper.
Later that Night

Later That Night, 2014.
Illustration for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
(Bloomsbury, USA, New York). Watercolor and ink on paper.
Sunset Gardens

Sunset Gardens, 2014.
Illustration for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
(Bloomsbury, USA, New York). Watercolor and ink on paper.
Grime

Grime, 2014.
Illustration for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
(Bloomsbury, USA, New York). Watercolor and ink on paper.
What I rescued

What I Rescued, 2014.
Illustration for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
(Bloomsbury, USA, New York). Watercolor and ink on paper.

Illustrated Books

Roz Chast’s art has appeared in almost twenty books, including collections of published cartoons and original picture book for children. “For children’s books, I’ve illustrated other people’s stories, and I’ve also done my own,” she said.”Creating images for kids is a little different than doing drawings for adults,but I think there is overlap, a Venn diagram aspect.” As the mother of two, she has a sense for what might be appealing. “There are certain jokes that I know kids will get. I don’t think any of my children’s books talk down to kids. I might not use complicated language, but it’s kind of fun to put in a few words they may not know. They can always ask their parents.”

Chast’s lighthearted illustrated books include 101 Two-Letter WordsWhat I Hate from A to ZThe Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter ZToo Busy MarcoMarco Goes to School, and Unscientific Americans, among others. In 2012, she was awarded the New York City Literary Honor in Humor by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The wonderful thing about the cartoon form is that it’s a combination of words and pictures. You don’t have to choose, and the two are often greater than the sum of their parts.

-Roz Chast
Meet My Staff

Meet My Staff 1998;
Title page illustration for Meet My Staff by Patricia Marx;
Watercolor and ink on paper; Collection of the artist
What I Hate From A to Z

What I Hate from A to Z 2011;
Cover illustration for What I Hate from A to Z by Roz Chast;
Watercolor and ink on paper; Collection of the artist
Marco Goes To School

Birdseed and Catsup Sandwich
2012;
Illustration for Marco Goes to School by Roz Chast;
Watercolor and ink on paper; Collection of the artist
Painting Room

From 7 to 8 Billy’s Muse Tells Him to Paint the Room Chartreuse
2015;
Illustration for Around the Clock by Roz Chast;
Watercolor and Ink on paper; Collection of the artist
Balloons

Balloons
2011;
Illustration for What I Hate from A to Z by Roz Chast;
Ink on paper; Collection of the artist
Weird Dream

From 1 to 2, Small John Paul Worries About Wires in the Wall.
2015;
Illustration for Around the Clock by Roz Chast;
Watercolor and Ink on paper; Collection of the artist

My cartoons tell the story of things that have happened in my life, like odd conversations and people I have met.

-Roz Chast
Roz Chast, Be, 2014. Illustration for 101 Two-Letter Words by Stephin Merritt; Watercolor and ink on paper; Collection of the artist.

Acknowledgements

Like many readers of The New Yorker and other popular publications, I have always been drawn to Roz Chast’s singular wit, and look forward to each new cartoon recounting the exploits of characters whom I feel I have come to know. Inspired, as Norman Rockwell was, by life’s small moments, her intelligent, expressive drawings prove that fact can be stranger than fiction, and that one need not go far to find comic relief in our crazy, irrepressible world.

Norman Rockwell Museum is honored to present the art of this distinguished illustration master in Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs, celebrating almost four decades of outstanding artistic accomplishment. The exhibition offers the first presentation of original works from her acclaimed visual memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, which chronicles the lives of her aging parents with heartfelt humor and emotion. The full range of the Chast’s talents and the breadth of her career are also revealed in her legendary cartoons for The New Yorker; book illustrations for Around the ClockWhat I Hate from A to ZMarco Goes to School, and 101 Two-Letter Words, among others; intricately-painted Ukrainian character eggs; and one-of-a-kind hand-made storytelling rugs.

The Distinguished Illustrator Exhibition Series honoring the unique contributions of exceptional visual communicators is presented by the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, the nation’s first research institute devoted to the art of illustration. The Distinguished Illustrator series reflects the impact and evolution of published art, and of Norman Rockwell’s beloved profession, which remains vibrant and ever-changing.

Stephanie Haboush Plunkett
Deputy Director/Chief Curator
Norman Rockwell Museum

Dedicated to the art of illustration in all its variety, Norman Rockwell Museum is honored to present Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs, a tribute to an exceptional and influential visual communicator. We wish to express sincere appreciation to Roz Chast for her enthusiasm and assistance throughout the planning process, and to Dena and Felda Hardymon and Amy C. Liss for their generous support of this exhibition.

Appreciation also goes to cartoonist Liza Donnelly for her outstanding catalogue essay; to Renato Danese, President, and Carol Lee Corey, Director, of Danese/Corey in New York City, for making important original artworks available for exhibition; and to Condé © Nast Content Operations Manager Trevor Hoey for assisting us in obtaining imagery for publication. Many thanks also to the Norman Rockwell Museum staff, who make all things possible.

Curator: Stephanie Haboush Plunkett; Graphic Design: Rita Marshall; Printing: Excelsior Photography: Thomas Mesquita, Paul Munroe, Eric Masters; Exhibit Video: Jeremy Clowe

Roz Chast Illustrations: © Roz Chast. All rights reserved. New Yorker images courtesy of Danese/Corey Gallery and Condé © Nast, New York City.
Compilation Copyright: © Norman Rockwell Museum, 2015

Roz Chast

As an art form that is almost a century old, The New Yorker cartoon provides a unique window on our culture. It’s possible to focus in on an individual cartoonist and look at their work for insight into creativity and into the times in which their work was published. Roz Chast’s drawings began appearing in The New Yorker at an interesting time in the country and at the magazine; and her work widened our understanding of what humor can be.

The New Yorker was founded as a humor magazine in 1925, and over the course of the first year, founder Harold Ross and his editors and artists worked together to create what we now know as The New Yorker cartoon: often subtle, ironic, sometimes political, often sophisticated. The cartoon has evolved and certain forms have found favor at different times over the course of the magazine’s history.

The first few years, there were all kinds of cartoons – single panels with two captions, comic strip – like sequential cartoons and caption-less cartoons. The editors often toyed with the layout: there were odd-shaped cartoons that were creatively surrounded by text, drawings that were as tall as the page, others traveled across double page spreads.

Marco Yawn
In the 1930’s, The New Yorker cartoon was in its heyday. Artists such as Peter Arno, Helen Hokinson, Barbara Shermund, Alan Dunn, William Steig, and James Thurber, brought the art form to great heights in popularity and artistry. The generation of the 50’s and 60’s brought cartoonists such as Frank Modell, Charles Saxon, George Price, Ed Fischer, and Mischa Richter. The cartoons by that time had become fairly uniform in type and cartoonists often used gag writers, and with the exception of Steinberg and Steig, most of the cartoons were typical single panel with a caption.

The 1970’s brought change at The New Yorker. The art editor who had been selecting cartoons for three decades, James Geraghty, was replaced by Lee Lorenz in 1973. Only the second art editor, and the first cartoonist to hold the job, Lorenz brought a number of new artists into the fold right away. One of the artists Lorenz discovered was Roz Chast.

Roz began selling cartoons as soon as she submitted them to The New Yorker in 1978. I met Roz around 1979 after I sold my first cartoon to the magazine. When I first saw her drawings, I was simultaneously charmed and perplexed; there was nothing like them in the magazine at that time.

Little Things

Her first drawing published in The New Yorker was called “Little Things,” and one can imagine the confusion it brought to many readers. Some were delighted, connecting to a cartoon in a way they had never before. The drawing is at once silly yet profound, and it’s hard to explain why. It was a taste of things to come from Roz. She examines the daily life of just about everyone, the small parts of our days that go unnoticed, unacknowledged, and under-valued. The simple pleasures, and the horrible deep worries; the secret life of cows, the bizarre thoughts of your homely neighbor, the ever-present obsessions of mom—nothing goes unexamined by Roz.

All cartoons are stories to one degree or another. Each has characters and settings and each cartoon has a beginning and an end – it’s just that we don’t often see it all: the story is implied in order to deliver the humor. Whether a single image or a multi-paneled one, Roz’s drawings are clearly stories that show us everyday people who may not be in our thoughts. And she seems to have affection for them. Yet one can also see a darkness; Roz had an early obsession with the work of Charles Addams and that connection is tangible in some of her darker cartoons. Her somber, realistic world-view is balanced out by her naive drawing style; we are caught off guard when a pessimistic tone emerges from the shaky, almost child-like line. But in the end, Roz’s love for her characters wins out, and one feels reassured and joins in her affection. They are us, but not really. Roz keeps us in a complicated dance of relating to those she draws, while allowing us to keep our distance so we can laugh.

Free Range Chickens

It feels as though Roz’s drawing come straight from her psyche, uninterrupted. She is sharing her inner thoughts as they emerge, unedited. If one relates to what she is saying in her cartoon, it’s on an emotional level, not an intellectual one. New Yorker writer E.B.White famously wrote decades ago that humor should not be dissected; because, like dissecting a frog, no one cares and the thing dies in the process. One can’t analyze Roz’s work: it just is and we are drawn to it.

Her early drawings in The New Yorker were often one panel, but sometimes they were several boxes grouped together as if in a category. Soon, we began to see longer visual stories, and over the years, one could watch as Roz played around with format. With her stories, she’s inviting us into a world she inhabits, and saying to us, “Look who I found and guess what he/she is thinking.” Or, “This really grosses me out, does it bother you as much as it does me?” or “This is really stupid, I have to show it to you.” One grows to love Roz’s people and animals, and can’t wait for their reappearance in the magazine.

Cartoons are a reflection of our lives. What makes New Yorker cartoons unique is that they are not all crafted jokes; rather the best cartoons are reflections of life through the eyes of an artist. New Yorker cartoons are a seamless blend of art and words. Roz’s are just that; through her work, we experience the world a new way. She taps into something deep inside us that perhaps scares us, yet at other times makes us laugh and think.

In trying to understand the context in which Roz’s art developed, it is important to look at the 1970’s as the continuation of a period of change in the U.S. This was certainly true of humor as well. Television shows like Laugh In (1967) and Saturday Night Live (1975) were challenging accepted formats and delivery of humor, as did David Letterman a bit later (1982). In print, National Lampoon (1970) pushed the boundaries of humor in a similar way to MAD magazine (1952). At The New Yorker, Lee Lorenz began his tenure as art editor in 1973 by being open to different ways to create humor. Immediately he discovered Jack Ziegler, and then Roz, artists who make us question our established ideas of what humor can be. There was an air of questioning of authority, and that extended to humor.

Almas Flying Wall to Wall Carpet

This open approach by the editor also led to another change: the work of more women cartoonists began appearing in The New Yorker after a few decades’ absence. When Roz began selling to the magazine, there was only one other woman publishing cartoons: Nurit Karlin. Over the next few years, readers began seeing the cartoons of myself, Victoria Roberts, Huguette Martel, Roz Zanango, Ann McCarthy, and Stephanie Skalisky. The 1970’s was a time of change for women, and this was reflected in humor to a certain degree. Once you open up the standards as to what is considered “good” in any field, humor included, you get more diversity. Under the leadership of Lee Lorenz, The New Yorker cartoon became diverse again, as it had been in the beginning. Roz drew cartoons about women from a young woman’s perspective, a view that had not been heard from for a while.

I am grateful for my friendship with Roz that has spanned more than three decades, both beginning our careers at The New Yorker in our early twenties. We have grown up with the magazine – first as single gals, then both getting married, having children, buying houses, caring for aging parents, dealing with numerous (nerve-wracking) changes in editorship at The New Yorker, both of us soldering on as we chronicle all of this and more in our cartoons. In an interview of Lee Lorenz for my book “Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists,” he told me a story about when he first showed Roz’s cartoons to Editor, William Shawn, who had the final say on what was bought. Upon viewing Roz’s submissions, Shawn asked, “How does she know they’re funny?”

Roz may not know the answer to that question, and I am pretty sure she would not want to answer that question. She is just putting her work out there, inviting us to enter her world. One doesn’t know Roz’s drawings are funny, we feel they are funny.

Roz Chast The Birth of Venus 2014; Cover illustration for The New Yorker, August 4, 2014; Watercolor and ink on paper; Courtesy of Roz Chast and Danese/Corey, New York

Everybody has a different line, a different sense of humor. It’s a great medium, I just love cartoons.

-Roz Chast

Speaking with Roz Chast

Roz Chast in her Studio

In an interview conducted on March 13, 2015, we had the opportunity to speak with Roz Chast about her prolific career, and about her place as one of America’s most beloved cartoonists.

Did you draw as a child, and was art encouraged in your youth?
I can’t remember when I wasn’t drawing, it was always something I liked to do. Sometimes my parents or teachers would say, oh, that’s a nice drawing, and it would make me want to do more. When you’re a kid, it may not be articulated, but you start to get a sense of who you are.

When did the concept of being a cartoonist emerge for you?
Over the summers, my parents would spend time in upstate New York at Cornell [University] with a group of Brooklyn schoolteachers, who were there to attend seminars. The student building on campus had a browsing library, and there was a section filled with cartoon books. That’s where I first saw the drawings of Charles Addams, and I became obsessed with them because they made me laugh. I looked at those books over and over again, and I just loved them. Later, I don’t think I ever thought about having a career as a cartoonist. I just thought, this is all I can do. It never occurred to me that I would do anything else. I did not want to work in a school, cash registers frightened me, and I wasn’t good at listening to instructions. The only thing I really thought I could do was work by myself and draw, and that is what I do.

How did you get your start as a professional after college?
When I came out of school I lived in my parents’ apartment and kept drawing. I didn’t think I was going to be able to make a living as a cartoonist. I thought maybe I’d be an illustrator bur found I wasn’t very good at it – then I decided to try cartoons. I was very surprised when I started to get work, because it happened very suddenly and very unexpectedly. It wasn’t like I was working for ten years, and then The New Yorker came along and everything changed. I was just starting out when that happened.

What is your process like when drawing New Yorker cartoons?
Coming up with ideas for New Yorker cartoons is probably the most structured part of my schedule because they have weekly meetings at the magazine. Tuesday evening is my deadline for getting together a group of sketches from which they will select maybe one, maybe none. I usually turn in around six or eight drawings a week, so Monday and Tuesday are my most hermetically-sealed dates, when I compile all of the ideas I’ve jotted down. It’s the time of the week when I lock myself away and try not to have distractions – I just sit, doodle, think, draw, and try to come up with sketches. The rest of the week, I work on books and other projects, like posters, or whatever I happen to be working on.

From 4 to 5 you will see June in the Garden

I’ve been asked if I ever have writer’s block, and I think I have it all the time. I just keep going anyway. If I only wait until I’m in the mood, that doesn’t work. I have to make myself sit at my desk, and sometimes if I start out with something terrible it leads to something better. Or not, and then I’ll just come downstairs, make a cup of coffee, and look at bird videos for a while. Coming up with ideas is not super easy.

How do you approach your work for illustrated children’s books?
For children’s books, I’ve illustrated other people’s stories, and I’ve also done my own. Creating images for kids is a little different than doing drawings for adults, but I think there is an overlap, a Venn diagram aspect. There are certain jokes that I know kids will get, but it won’t mean to them what it might simply to a forty year old. Different senses of humor, but there is overlap.

Too Busy Marco and Marco Goes to School were inspired by a wonderful bird we had, a blue streak lorry, and the conversations I used to have with my children. I used to think of Marco as a little boy in a bird costume. I would say, ‘We need to have a very serious conversation,’ and my kids would say, ‘What is it, Mom?’ And I would respond, ‘Picture Marco in a little graduation gown with a little graduation cap, and on the tip of his wing, a little diploma.’ So those books were inspired by picturing Marco in all different scenarios. I still do that to some extent, but now my children are older and they know my tricks.

How did you conceive Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
I think of some of my cartoons as straightforward, as taking place in cartoon land. But I also submit drawings about things that happen to me in real life. This book was based on conversations and experiences I had with my parents in their later years. I had no idea they would appear in a book, I was just submitting them to The New Yorker – like the one about my mother’s patched and burned oven mitt from the 1970s. Who patches an oven mitt? I was amazed to find that the material she had patched it with was from a skirt I had made in seventh grade. Others, like Cheese Danish and Ouija Board, which were published in the book, were just part of a weekly batch. My parents’ lives were so interesting to me that I did not want to forget, and I eventually found myself developing a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Some of the stories that emerged were sort of hilarious, but also heartbreaking, and they became a record of my experience with them.

Cartoon Psyanka Any closing thoughts?
I feel as though I’ve been extraordinarily lucky and I keep waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. I constantly feel that at some point someone is going to realize they’ve made a terrible mistake, and that it’s all going to disappear. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. About cartoons in general, it’s a great medium. Everybody has a different line, a different sense of humor; I just love the variety of it.

Events

There are no events for this exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum at this time.

Media

Cartoon Memoirs: An Evening with Roz Chast

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast takes a lively look at her prolific career, and her acclaimed graphic memoir, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”

Event took place on July 9, 2015 – 5:30PM
Norman Rockwell Museum

© Norman Rockwell Museum. All rights reserved.

Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs

Video produced by Jeremy Clowe for the exhibit “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs” at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
June 6 through October 26, 2015.
© Norman Rockwell Museum. All rights reserved.

PBS NewsHour: Readers relate to Roz Chast’s personal book on aging parents

Known for her dry wit, cartoonist Roz Chast finds humor in caring for aging parents in her first graphic memoir, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” Jeffrey Brown speaks with the New Yorker artist about taking on more personal subject matter and how cartooning became a tool in remembering her late parents.

Jewish Daily Forward: Drawing the Last Chapter – A Conversation with Roz Chast

Can death be funny? New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast combines both tragic and comic aspects of her parents’ demise in her new graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”

Steve Martin and Roz Chast in Conversation

From the New Yorker Festival

At Home with Roz Chast – The New Yorker

Roz Chast published her first cartoon in The New Yorker in 1978. On a recent morning, we rode the train to Connecticut and stepped inside her colorful and cartoon-filled home to talk about her parrots, obesessions, collections, and cartoons.

Press

“Why Roz Chast Makes Fun of White Middle-Class New Yorkers”

New York Times, September 1, 2016

New York – A cartoon by the brilliant, widely beloved visual humorist Roz Chast has the title “Einsteins on the Beach” drawn above a family of three camped out on the shore: Dad, listening to the gurgling coming from his wristwatch, remarks, “Guess I shouldn’t have worn my Rolex.” Mom, sitting in a beach chair and observing a large, transparent bag of food on the blanket at her feet, reflects, “Maybe it’s time to move the sandwiches out of the sun.” Their young daughter, emptying a bag of snacks onto the sand, says, “I wonder if sea gulls like Cheez Doodles.”

Read the complete article on The New York Times

“Getting Graphic with Roz Chast”

WNPR, August 19, 2015

In her graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, cartoonist Roz Chast brings humor to the difficult topic of aging parents. Last year, the book earned her the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction. Now, it’s being featured alongside some of her other work as part of the Distinguished Illustrator Exhibition Series at the Norman Rockwell Museum.

This hour, we sit down with Chast to talk about her art, and learn more about the exhibit, “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs”.

Read the complete article on WNPR.org

“Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs at Norman Rockwell Museum”

Get Visual, July 30, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE – Who doesn’t love Roz Chast? Her quirky take on life, as seen in countless New Yorker cartoons and covers, is the essence of contemporary American neurosis and it makes us laugh in recognition of our own foibles (or, more likely, those of our friends and relatives).
So, one recent lovely summer day we took a trip to Stockbridge to enjoy Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs at the Norman Rockwell Museum – and were immediately immersed in Roz’s world.

Read the complete article on the Get Visual Blog

“Cartoonist Roz Chast, On Aging And Worry, At Rockwell Museum”

New England Public Radio, July 20, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE – Cartoonist Roz Chast draws frazzled, neurotic characters who appear regularly in the New Yorker magazine – as well as several books. Her latest, a graphic memoir about caring for her aging parents, has been turned into a museum exhibit. It’s premiering at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Listen to the complete interview on NEPR.net…

WAMC Roundtable: “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs’ At The Norman Rockwell Museum”

WAMC, July 16, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE – Roz Chast has loved to draw cartoons since she was a child growing up in Brooklyn and began selling cartoons to The New Yorker as soon as she submitted them in 1978. Her cartoons have also been published in many other magazines, she has illustrated several books and won many awards for her work.

In her first memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast brought her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. The memoir and her other work is currently featured in an exhibition at The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.

Listen to the complete interview on WAMC.org…

“Seeing things a bit differently”

Albany Times & Union, July 5, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE – Roz Chast came out drawing. She admits as much. She also admits she’s had a pretty long career as a cartoonist, although the mere word makes her nervous.“I guess the whole idea of ‘career’ just makes me sort of anxious, in a way. I feel like this is what I do. I can’t quite say that I always …..”

Read more on TimesUnion.com…

“Roz Chast at Norman Rockwell Museum: Human folly on display”

Berkshire Edge, June 14, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE – Perhaps it is in the nature of genius that it shows up where you would least expect it. In scribbly cartoons of neurotic apartment-dwellers that punctuate the pages of the New Yorker? Surely not?

You can judge for yourself at Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs that has just opened (and runs through October 26) at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. You should allow yourself plenty of time there, because although most of Chast’s individual pieces are tiny, there are an awful lot of them here, and in a range that might surprise you.

Read more on BerkshireEdge.com…

 

“Humor a life-and-death matter for Chast at Rockwell Museum”

Boston Globe, June 13, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE – Roz Chast’s cartoons, the subject of a terrific summer show at the Norman Rockwell Museum, are about everything that’s incommensurable in life. They try to equate, on the one hand, this, this, that, these (how many do you want?), oh and that, too, take your pick; and on the other, splat. Sound of escaping air. Nothing.

How I love them.

Read more on BostonGlobe.com…

 

“Life through the eyes of a New Yorker cartoonist”

Berkshire Eagle, June 6, 2015

STOCKBRIDGE – If anyone could pull laughs from the burden of caring for aging parents, it would be New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, who did just that in her award-winning graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant.” Based on her own experience, it documents, in comic style, the idiosyncratic ways we and our loved ones avoid, confront, and ultimately accept the final accounting.

Her original drawings from that memoir, along with ones from her 37-year New Yorker career, her children’s books and other interests, go on view in “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs,” opening at the Norman Rockwell Museum on Saturday. Organized by Chief Curator Stephanie Plunkett, it is on view through Oct. 26.

Read more on BerkshireEagle.com

New Yorker’s Roz Chast stunned by $250,000 Heinz Award for her ‘uncompromising’ work”

Washington Post, April 23, 2015

TWO MONTHS AGO, Roz Chast got the call. The person on the line was phoning on behalf of some group called Heinz. Hmm. As if by reflex, the New Yorker cartoonist thought perhaps these folks wanted her to donate a drawing.

“The truth is, I hadn’t heard of the Heinz Awards before,” Chast tells The Post’s Comic Riffs on Wednesday. “I guess I’m pretty much in my own little world. When I first heard from them – from the Heinz Foundation – I was sure they were going to ask me to contribute a drawing for a charity of some kind.

“We we’re on the phone, and I had my pen and paper handy to write down what kind of cartoon they were looking for, when they needed it by, to whom I should send it, etc.,” Chast continues. “So, as the saying goes, ‘Imagine my surprise’ when the conversation went in a whole different direction.”

Read more on WashingtonPost.com

Reviews of Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

By turns grim and absurd, deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. Ms. Chast reminds us how deftly the graphic novel can capture ordinary crises in ordinary American lives.
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
A tour de force of dark humor and illuminating pathos about her parents’ final years as only this quirky genius of pen and ink could construe them.
Elle
One of the major books of 2014 . . . Moving and bracingly candid . . . This is, in its original and unexpected way, one of the great autobiographical memoirs of our time.
Buffalo News
Better than any book I know, this extraordinarily honest, searing and hilarious graphic memoir captures (and helps relieve) the unbelievable stress that results when the tables turn and grown children are left taking care of their parents. . . [A] remarkable, poignant memoir.
San Francisco Chronicle

Media

Around the Clock

Around the Clock
$17.99

This wacky romp from New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast includes entertaining antics for every hour, on the hour in this picture book brimming with her trademark stamp of zany humor. This kooky twenty-four-hour tour of a day in the life of twenty-three different children will reveal answers from the absurd to the hilarious!

Hardcover, 32 pages. Ages 4 to 8.

Can we talk about something more pleasant?

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz Chast
$28.00

In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

Hardcover, 240 pages.

Marco goes to school

Marco Goes to School
$16.99

Marco is the busiest bird, and it’s time he goes to school! There is so much to do at school, from lessons to lunch to building a block tower to the moon! But Marco soon learns that his plans for the day may be just a bit too ambitious. Luckily, school has one extra surprise for him – a new friend! In Marco’s latest wacky adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Roz Chast proves that it’s not getting to the moon that counts, it’s the friends we make along the way.

Hardcover, 32 pages. Ages 4 – 8.

Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs

Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs Exhibit Catalog
$7.95

Exclusive companion catalog to the Norman Rockwell Museum exhibition Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs features dozens of full color and black and white images from the acclaimed cartoonist’s career – from her comics for The New Yorker to her illustrated memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Includes exhibition checklist and introduction by Deputy Director and Chief Curator Stephanie Haboush Plunkett.

Paperback, 16 pages.

Shelved Puzzle

Shelved – 750 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
$15.95

Roz Chast Shelved cover illustration for The New Yorker October 18, 2010. 750 piece jigsaw puzzle measures 18″ x 24″ when complete. Made in the USA!

The Party After Your Left

The Party, After You Left
$20.00

A ‘Best Of’ collection of cartoonist Roz Chast’s distinctive comics and humorus illustrations which originally appeared in The New Yorker, Scientific American, Redbook, and other publications. A spot-on record of our increasingly absurd existence, the book is a powerful reminder of how lucky we are to have Roz Chast among us to tackle some of the toughest themes of the times with uproarious humor.

Hardcover, 96 pages.

Theories of Everything

Theories of Everything
$45.00

The pages of the New Yorker are hallowed ground for cartoonists, and for the last thirty years, Roz Chast has helped set the magazine’s cartooning standard, while creating work that is unmistakably her own- characterized by her shaggy lines, an ecstatic way with words, and her characters’ histrionic masks of urban and suburban anxiety, bedragglement, and elation.

Hardcover, 400 pages.

Too Busy Marco

Too Busy Marco
$16.99

It’s time for bed again, and Marco simply has too much to do! He’s got masterpieces to paint, underwater inventions to create, halfpipes to skate – How can it possibly all get done? When one idea builds on top of another, and every object he encounters just screams inspiration, why would Marco ever want to put on his pajamas and brush his beak? With humor and a great deal of energy, this delightful new character from acclaimed illustrator Roz Chast will rev kids up and wear them out, just in time for bed.

Hardcover, 32 pages. Ages 4 to 8.

What I Hate from A to Z

What I Hate from A to Z
$15.00

An epic inventory of horrors and daily unpleasantries, including but by no means limited to rabies, abduction, tunnels, and the triple-layered terror of Jell-O 1-2-3. With never-before-published, full-page cartoons for every letter, and supplemental text to make sure the proper fear is instilled in every heart, Chast’s alphabetical compendium will resonate with anyone well-versed in the art of avoidance.

Hardcover, 64 Pages.

Norman Rockwell Museum 2015. Photograph by Jeremy Clowe

Venues Hosting This Exhibition

This exhibition is not currently touring…check back soon!

Host this Exhibition

Contact Information:

Mary Melius
Manager of Traveling Exhibitions

413-931-2245
TravExhibits@nrm.org

Complete Facts
Contents:Approximately 175original artworks; photographs; artifacts/personal memorabilia; video interview; monograph brochure; introductory and informational panels; and object/extended identification labels.
Security: High, all works must be within sight of a trained security officer/staff member at all times during public hours.
Security:High, all works must be within sight of a trained security officer/staff member at all times during public hours.
Environment:Light level -18 to 22 foot candles for paintings and 5 to 7 foot candles for works on paper and other light restricted objects. Humidity -50% plus or minus 5% and temperature
68 – 72 degrees, no direct sunlight and no direct contact with light fixtures or heating, air conditioning, ventilation, or electrical outlets.
Space Requirements:approx. 3000-4000 square feet
Shipping:Air ride, Climate controlled

An exhibition organized by Norman Rockwell Museum

Everybody has a different line, a different sense of humor. It’s a great medium, I just love cartoons. ―Roz Chast

Many readers of The New Yorker and other popular publications have been drawn to Roz Chast’s singular wit, and look forward to each new cartoon recounting the exploits of characters they feel they have come to know. Inspired, as Norman Rockwell was, by life’s small moments, her intelligent, expressive drawings prove that fact can be stranger than fiction, and that one need not go far to find comic relief in our irrepressible world.

Norman Rockwell Museum is honored to present the art of this distinguished illustration master in Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs, celebrating almost four decades of outstanding artistic accomplishment. The exhibition offers the first presentation of original works from Roz Chast’s acclaimed graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, which chronicles the lives of her aging parents with heartfelt humor and emotion. The full range of the Chast’s talents and the breadth of her career are also revealed in her legendary cartoons for The New Yorker; book illustrations for Around the ClockWhat I Hate from A to ZMarco Goes to School, and 101 Two-Letter Words, among others; intricately-painted Ukrainian character eggs; and one-of-a-kind hand-made storytelling rugs, which bring our world’s many shared joys and challenges to life.

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