The Ink Lady

I originally started this drawing three years ago as a work sample for my middle school art students. I soon realized the scale and details were far too time consuming for an assignment. I put the portrait aside assuming I’d get to it eventually.

Two years went by and I rediscovered it in a neglected pile of posters. I brought it home right before summer break and pinned it to the wall. I assumed I’d get sick of seeing it half finished on the wall. One day that summer, I’d take it down and finally finish it.

Another summer came and went. The ink lady stayed pinned to the wall.

One Saturday afternoon, I finally had enough. She came down and while listening to podcasts with smooth educated voices, I started to finish her coat, I started her coiffure. My phone dings, a text from Chanez. I often hear from her while drawing so it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Her message was about The Glass Files however, and if I had any artwork that would reflect its mission.

I wondered what I could possibly use or create that would describe the intricacies of lineage and history. And then I looked down at my desk.

The ink lady was perfect for The Glass Files. It was inspired by my students, intertwined lives of different religions, cultures and beliefs.

The Ink Lady by Julia Livi

The entire drawing is made up of hidden lines and meanings, moments lost in time that come together to create a person. I’m grateful she was given purpose by becoming a part of The Glass Files instead of a discarded unfinished portrait.

Wouldn’t it be magical to find hidden moments of your family lineage? To shed light on blurry pieces of history?

When I think of The Glass Files, I think of gaining clarity and knowledge on what is most precious to us, our story.

About the author and artist:

Julia Livi is the writer and illustrator of the bilingual book series “Voltaire: The Franco-American Hipster Dog” and “Let’s Visit James Monroe” a book about James Monroe and his Museum in Fredricksburg Virginia. You can check them out on She also creates bilingual flashcards for people of all ages to enjoy on social media.

Julia grew up to Franco-American parents in Paris before going to the Pratt Institute to study Art Education. She began her teaching career at Rikers Island before teaching middle school art and set design in Brooklyn. She enjoys sharing her passion for art, Franco-American culture and history to students of all ages through her books, flashcards and classes.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @voltairelivi

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1 comment

  • Sarah

    August 4, 2020 at 11:57 am

    Thank you Julia for dedicating this extraordinary artwork to The Glass Files!

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