Montclair Artist C.J. Cohn Turns Divorce Into Art

For as long as there’s been love, there’s been heartbreak—and people turning that heartbreak into art. Which is exactly what Montclair artist C.J. Cohn has done in her new show at the Wade Maxx Gallery, “The Art of Divorce.”

Cohn, who has lived in Montclair for 20 years, says that following her divorce, her therapist “suggested I keep a journal or create art as a release—that was all I needed to hear.” So she began creating illustrations that helped her process what she calls the “daily emotional roller coaster of divorce.”

The works in the show are in mostly muted colors and depict figures that appear to come from fairy tales and classical myths—but with added visual cues of fractured hearts, and people pulling apart from each other and themselves.

“No matter the circumstances, divorce is daunting,” says Cohn. “As the body of work grew, in addition to using my art to heal myself, I knew I had stumbled onto something more universal.”

Cohn, who describes herself as “closer to 60 than 70, but not by much,” is a longtime member of the local art scene and founded the SummerArt program at the Montclair Art Museum in 2003. “As a kid I spent my time at summer camp in the Arts & Crafts shack, so I created the program for kids like me,” she says. “The response in this creative community was great, and it lives on. I am very proud of this legacy.”

Now, with “The Art of Divorce” going on view to the public, she is already working on a second set of illustrations born of the challenges of marriage and the life she has built in its wake.

“Every marriage is fraught with challenges and with moments of joy,” Cohn says. “The work reflects both.”

“The Art of Divorce” is on view at the Wade Maxx Gallery, 618 Valley Road, Upper Montclair, April 27-May 20. More information at cjcohnartist.com.

Images: Like Birds Passing in the Night; Shattered. Courtesy of C.J. Cohn.

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