Artist Molly Crabapple’s Politically Charged NYC Home

published Oct 30, 2018

Artist Molly Crabapple’s Politically Charged NYC Home

published Oct 30, 2018
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Name: Molly Crabapple and Fred Harper
Location: Lower Manhattan — New York, NY
Size: 800 square feet (I think?)
Years lived in: 10 years, renting

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Molly Crabapple’s simple bio would read that she’s a New York-based artist and writer. But for a longer description of her life and work, you’d need a lot more than just a sentence. Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, CNN, and Newsweek. Her illustrated memoir “Drawing Blood” published in 2015, is just one of the books she’s had a part in creating. But perhaps her most powerful work is her unique blend of artist-writer-illustrator-journalist style when it comes to covering subjects ranging from conflicts, injustices, and politics from around the world. Her work—and the lower Manhattan studio she’s inhabited for a decade with her partner Fred—both exude freedom and fearlessness.

The loft-like space is filled to the brim with draping textiles, large-scale paintings of human figures, and politically-charged artwork. The artist and writer’s space reflects her work in politics—specifically her exploration of injustices in the US and overseas. It’s certainly not a typical home as we tend to define one, but at the same time, it is quite homey. Soft textiles meet cozy nooks. Corners filled with art supplies stoke creativity. The entire apartment is itself a canvas. The whole space feels free.

Molly’s most recent publication (produced in collaboration with Syrian war journalist Marwan Hisham) “Brothers of the Gun” is a memoir about the war in Syria.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Drug-addled book-hoarding artists in 1890s Paris who spill paint everywhere and have friends bring them trinkets from around the world.

Inspiration: I read too much Anaïs Nin in high school.

Favorite Element: A screen my great grandfather painted. After he came to America, Grandpa Sam decorated ceilings in rich people’s homes, while sculpting and painting for himself. The screen is brown burlap that he painted with fantastical princesses—I always loved the ability we artists have to make luxury out of nothing.

Biggest Challenge: The reality that neither I nor anyone else who is not a millionaire will ever be able to buy an apartment in this city where I was born.

What Friends Say: “Is it alright that I spilled that whiskey all over the carpet? Are you sure?”

Biggest Embarrassment: The amount of paint and ink spilled over the carpets.

Proudest DIY: The battered old dresser Fred has had forever that I painted candy blue and put antique fancy handles on. I’m not very good at DIY.

Biggest Indulgence: A gold and black lacquer cabinet from Pearl River Mart.

Best Advice: Make friends with artists, because they will give you their sketches when they run out of space in their drawers. Also if all your furniture was dragged off the street or inherited from whoever lived in your room before you, like mine was, you can make it look at least bohemian if not “nice” by draping fabric you like over it. Accumulation of bizarre or lovely objects (allegedly) conceals the fact you do not dust.

Dream Sources: Street markets all over the world, but especially in Mumbai and Lahore. Librarie Petite Egypte in Paris, Pages in Istanbul, Daunt Books in London for Books. I want to find whoever painted the ceiling at Albertine Books in New York and learn his secrets.


Flat files — Salvaged from an office that was going out of business.
Couch — Online antique store. It immediately broke and is being held up by books.
Art — Loubna Mrie, Tatiana Fazlilizadeh, Ganzeer

Curtains — Sari fabric from trips to India
Drafting Table and table next to it— Inherited from my mom, who got them when she was an art student in New York.
Art — Ms Saffaa, Zak Smith, Katelan Foisy, Ganzeer, Sara Jafary, HIBA SCHAHBAZ, Fred Harper, Me, Grandpa Sam
Sewing machine — Via my great grandmother, who did piecework on it in the Lower East Side when she came to America.
Lanterns — Pearl River Department Store
Small table — Broken air conditioner with a board on top, piled with Arabic books.
Carpets — All fake, all bought off eBay, all heavily stained with ink, paint and assorted types of alcohol.

Dresser — Old piece of junk from who knows where, painted blue and with antique handles from eBay.
Mirrors — One inherited from my grandmother, one found on street
Small green cabinet and larger black and gold cabinet — Pearl River department store
Marble cafe table — eBay
Chairs — Inherited from great aunt and grandmother, hauled through many moves.
Feather fans — Stolen from aftermath of a fashion industry party my friend worked at.
Puppets — Street market in Pondicherry, India
Art — David Nicholson, Travis Louie, Susie Cagle, Clayton Cubitt, Beehive Collective, Xavier “BOOM” Muñoz
Clock — Restoration Hardware

Teacups — Various shops in Istanbul
Carafe — Mi Patria Antique Shop in Ponce, Puerto Rico

Wallpaper — Stick-on, not sure the brand, but something like this.

Thanks, Molly and Fred!

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