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8 People Who Owe Everything to a Breakup

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Nietzsche—and Kelly Clarkson—said it best: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." These 8 people might not have amounted to much, if they hadn't had their hearts broken.

1. Ira Glass

There’s a great This American Life episode about breakups, but it doesn’t include host Ira Glass’s story. During the publicity tour for Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me, a film This American Life produced, Ira Glass told Nerve about two ex-girlfriends who shattered his heart—and self-confidence: “I just thought, ‘Wow, you’re smarter than me, and way funnier than me, and more interesting than me, and you have better values than I have.’ And in one case, she totally agreed with me... And I think that those are the relationships you just have to get out of. It was really only when the relationship ended that my work got better and I felt a sense of confidence.”

After those relationships ended, Glass continued to work on his “dumb little radio stories,” as he called them. This American Life debuted on WBEZ Chicago in 1995 and remains a hit.

But here’s a twist to the story: Glass wasn’t always a loving, supportive boyfriend. Cartoonist Lynda Barry told the story of their doomed relationship in her 2002 graphic memoir One! Hundred! Demons! The chapter’s called “Head Lice and My Worst Boyfriend.”

2. Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić

When Olinka Vištica, a film producer, and Dražen Grubišić, a sculptor, broke up in 2003 after four years together, they had accumulated enough stuff to fill a museum. Three years later, they decided to actually make one. They asked friends to contribute their own failed relationship artifacts and curated an exhibit in their hometown of Zagreb, Croatia.

The exhibit eventually toured the world, collecting cast-off mementos, love letters, and forget-me-nots, along the way. In 2010, the Museum of Broken Relationships settled in a permanent spot in Zagreb’s Upper Town neighborhood. It was awarded the 2011 Kenneth Hudson Award for being the most innovative museum in Europe.

3. Jonathan Mann and Ivory King

During their five years of dating, Jonathan Mann and Ivory King enjoyed recording original songs on YouTube together. And they finally went viral when they announced they were breaking up … in a song. “We’ve Got To Break Up” shares the reason for the split with heartfelt lyrics, harmonica and clarinet accompaniment, and silly dance moves.

4. Nev Schulman

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What do you do when you find out your online girlfriend doesn’t really exist and you don't play football for Notre Dame?

You do what 25-year-old Nev Schulman did and make a documentary about it with your brother and his friend. The story goes that Schulman knew something was fishy about his online girlfriend Megan, whom he met on Facebook. But he had no idea how much work had gone into her deception ... until he met her in real life. Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost filmed the lies as they unraveled and coined the term “catfish” to describe a person who perpetuates fake relationships online by posting false information.

Many critics say the film about an online hoax is a hoax itself. If that’s true, then Nev Schulman is catfishing us all the way to the bank. The 2010 film Catfish led to Catfish: The TV Show on MTV, which Schulman hosts and executive produces. Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost moved on to 100 percent fictional horror films and directed Paranormal Activity 3 and 4. “Catfish” became part of the online lexicon. And Megan, who never was, continues to not exist.

5. Joni Mitchell

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When Kris Kristofferson first heard Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue, he cried out, “Please! Leave something of yourself!” Mitchell was heartbroken after breaking up with long-term boyfriend Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash (the folk-rock group, not a law firm). And she sang all about it.

Blue was a critical and commercial success. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it #30 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the highest position of any album by a woman ever. The album Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young also made the list—at the less impressive #148.

6. Edvard Munch

Expressionist Edvard Munch’s most famous work is a series of paintings and pastels called "The Scream." And surprise, it may have been inspired by a breakup! In a 1892 diary entry, Munch wrote, “One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature...” What else was happening at the time? A tortured, two-year affair with his cousin’s wife.

Munch struggled with alcoholism, and love was another powerful addiction. His on-again, off-again mistress Tulla Larsen inspired later works, including "The Dance of Life." That affair ended when Larsen shot off one of Munch’s fingers with a revolver during an argument. The artist was still able to paint, but he never forgave the woman who did him wrong. She later married one of Munch’s colleagues. Awkwaaaard.

7 & 8. Adele … and Amy Winehouse ... and so many more

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Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash said, “There are three things men can do with women: Love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature.”

If you want to be a successful contemporary female musician, you should try all three. Singing about heartbreak is nothing new, but breakup music has been the soundtrack of the aughts. Last year, Adele won six Grammys, including Record of the Year, for an album of songs inspired by her ex-boyfriend.

But she might never have set fire to the rain—or the U.S.—without Amy Winehouse's 2007 album Back to Black. Winehouse culled material from failed relationships to write songs that made people want to cry … and dance. A new wave of soulful British torch singers was born.

Whether you prefer the gritty “Back to Black” or the tearjerker “Someone Like You,” both singers have earned a permanent spot on breakup playlists, along with so many more. Who wrote your favorite breakup song?

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Art
Artist Makes Colorful Prints From 1990s VHS Tapes

A collection of old VHS tapes offers endless crafting possibilities. You can use them to make bird houses, shelving units, or, if you’re London-based artist Dieter Ashton, screen prints from the physical tape itself.

As Co.Design reports, the recent London College of Communication graduate was originally intrigued by the art on the cover of old VHS and cassette tapes. He planned to digitally edit them as part of a new art project, but later realized that working with the ribbons of tape inside was much more interesting.

To make a print, Ashton unravels the film from cassettes and VHS tapes collected from his parents' home. He lets the strips fall randomly then presses them into tight, tangled arrangements with the screen. The piece is then brought to life with vibrant patterns and colors.

Ashton has started playing with ways to incorporate themes and motifs from the films he's repurposing into his artwork. If the movie behind one of his creations isn’t immediately obvious, you can always refer to its title. His pieces are named after movies like Backdraft, Under Siege, and that direct-to-video Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic Passport to Paris.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Dieter Ashton

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photography
This Is What Flowers Look Like When Photographed With an X-Ray Machine
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Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Peruvian Daffodil” (1938)

Many plant photographers choose to showcase the vibrant colors and physical details of exotic flora. For his work with flowers, Dr. Dain L. Tasker took a more bare-bones approach. The radiologist’s ghostly floral images were recorded using only an X-ray machine, according to Hyperallergic.

Tasker snapped his pictures of botanical life while he was working at Los Angeles’s Wilshire Hospital in the 1930s. He had minimal experience photographing landscapes and portraits in his spare time, but it wasn’t until he saw an X-ray of an amaryllis, taken by a colleague, that he felt inspired to swap his camera for the medical tool. He took black-and-white radiographs of everything from roses and daffodils to eucalypti and holly berries. The otherworldly artwork was featured in magazines and art shows during Tasker’s lifetime.

Selections from Tasker's body of work have been seen around the world, including as part of the Floral Studies exhibition at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in San Diego in 2016. Prints of his work are also available for purchase from the Stinehour Wemyss Editions and Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “Philodendron” (1938)

X-ray image of a rose.
Dr. Dain L. Tasker, “A Rose” (1936)

All images courtesy of Joseph Bellows Gallery.

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