Spotlight on Evelyn Nackman
by Susannah Grant
This month the Spotlight falls on seasoned lawyer, amateur flamenco dancer and budding novelist, Evelyn Nackman who is also a Lieutenant Colonel with an artistic flair and a mother of 3.
Tell us what prompted you to pursue a legal career within the US Military
I grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C., one of the most politically charged places in the USA. Where some people grew up with favorite sports teams, my world was divided by political parties. I’m a believer in being the change you want to see. After attending law school in Chicago, I joined the military, and became a lawyer.
The law and the military are two institutions that have traditionally been dominated by men. Women have a powerful stereotype-defying perspective to bring to all institutions. I have been a part of that institutional change within the US military and globally as the US forces interact with the forces of other nations for peacekeeping and coalition building missions. The military’s rigorous professional training helped launch my legal career in the civilian sector.
Are you still involved with the Armed Forces?
Public service has been an important aspect of my life. I continue to serve my country.
The strict lockdown in Madrid gave you an opportunity to complete your first book, what prompted you to write a novel?
My family’s numerous postings meant that I needed to reinvent my career. As an English major in college and a lifelong reader, I’ve always wanted to write fiction. My time in Spain has given me that opportunity.
You have 3 daughters, including twins – how does your husband cope with so many females in the household and are any of the telepathic myths about twins true?
My husband is one of those rare men who has the gift of charm and grace when it comes to dealing with personalities. At home, he’s treated like a celebrity, so it’s a win-win for him.
The twins have whatever the opposite of telepathic connection is. They couldn’t be more different. They look nothing alike and act different. They have separate interests, etc. That said, my three girls are best friends and fiercely protective of each other.
Do you have any stories about adapting to life here in Madrid?
Americans use imperial measurement for the most part and all of our produce, in the US, is weighed at the checkout till. So I have no idea how much a gram of anything is or how much a banana (or anything at all) weighs in either metric or imperial. During the pandemic, I used Hipercor’s online order service which proved just how little I knew.
How has painting been a creative outlet throughout your life?
Art is just another language trapped inside you. Everyone has art in them of some sort whether your medium is words, paint, clay, or performance. Just like you can say some things better in Spanish or Greek to express yourself, the arts are another way of communicating that which can’t be spoken directly. As such, the best art makes you feel or remember or understand something better about life, as well as being a release for the artist.
I use all types of mediums: pastels, water color, oil paint, etc. Painting is another way of capturing how I see the world, like writing. The creative process connects parts of my brain that were never connected before and expands my understanding of the world.
I spend as much time as I am able in art museums absorbing the messages and language in the works there. I’ll photograph a painting that strikes me and go home to recreate it with my own colors. Going through another artist’s creative process helps me understand what they’re saying in a way that simply looking at a painting can’t. In this way, Goya and other infamous painters and I have spoken to one another. In the process, I create something new and improve my own expression.
As someone who has been in Madrid for a year how has being a member of INC been beneficial to you?
INC has been a great way to connect with other women, professionally and personally.
What is your secret Madrid?
I love finding nooks, interesting views, one-of-a-kind artisanal products, and meeting people in their element. Not the easiest to do right now, but rewarding when I am able to do it. Some of my favorite place are: My art class held in a studio on Calle de Fucar, the view from the RUI Hotel rooftop, Ferreterría by EGO (a restaurant with yummy jamón) anything in Mercado de Paz, and my flamenco classes in Pozuelo.
If you could go anywhere, where would you like to live next?
I’d love to live in France or Italy next. I studied French for years and love both countries.
If you could wave a magic wand what would you do next in your life?
I waved it! My wish was granted! I’m starting my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with NYU in Paris this January. I’ll be on my writing journey for a while, hopefully capitalizing on my experiences since I left full time legal practice.