When Tart readers voted on a newsletter theme for June — a month full of 80-degree days that few of us enjoyed — we weren’t surprised that they chose Salt, maybe as a plaintive desire for the sweat and sea we’ve been missing. We liked the word for its banality and its flavor. Artists could find food, tears, sex, exertion, sass, minerals, earthiness, heat, ocean, chemicals, and grit in these four letters. In fact, they found more.
If you missed us this month, go back and peruse our Substack archives. From her kitchen, Mackenzie Moore gave us a taste of the edge. Shelby Newsome questioned the notion of a stranger in her mid-month short story. And Ada Astrella answered our desire for anything fruity, especially if it can be preserved with salt.
Our July theme invites just as much interpretation. Can I ask you a personal question? The actual words are nothing threatening, but when asked aloud they often evoke both familiarity and anxiety. Will the resulting conversation foster closeness or leave us exposed as we search for a safe answer?
In honor of the handoff from Salt to this new theme, we present images by Laura Thompson. To create their unusual effect, she boiled finished film in a pot of water with table salt for approximately 10-20 minutes. The recipe continued with her leaving the film in rice to dry overnight before she developed the photos by hand in a darkroom. “The water caused the ‘splotchy’ness, and the salt contributed to the squiggles you see around the edges of the blobs,” she tells us. “The experimentation became a fun part of the development process and always resulted in something unique.”
For the month of July, we can’t wait to see your work that channels our new theme. Send your pieces to email@example.com until July 31; as always, writers and artists of color are especially encouraged to submit. All media are welcome, but we’re really eager to see more short stories this time. Because, with all the loadedness that the question comes with, we’re asking it: Can I ask you a personal question?
By Laura Thompson
About the Artist
Laura Thompson is a freelance photographer flipping through her college film archive of salty teenage angst because what would a better use of her time in quarantine even be? Find her online at @wawawomp.
It’s truly the question on everyone’s minds…