Mom Residency Highlights Author, Scholar and Media Artist Rebecca Louise Clarke

Author, Scholar and Media Artist Rebecca Clarke

Today we would love to highlight our first virtual MOM Resident for 2021-2022, Rebecca Louise Clarke! Rebecca is an author, scholar and media artist who is interested in the ways mothering and memory are depicted in museums. Her book Representations of Mothers and the Maternal in Museums, to be published in early 2023 by Routledge is currently in development, and examines the ways mothering is represented in museum collections and exhibitions. As part of her research during her residency over the next nine months, Rebecca is doing an in-depth case study of the Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M). Her analysis seeks to discover ways that experiences of mothering as voiced by mothers themselves, can challenge heteronormative, stereotypical ideals about motherhood and how innovative museum practice can disrupt conventional ideals about motherhood. Those of us here at MOM wanted to let you get to know Rebecca along with her work, thoughts, and insight from our Q&A with her on September 6th, 2021. Be sure to also follow us on social media for updates from her throughout her residency with us!

Q. What led you on your path toward becoming an author, scholar and media artist interested in depictions of mothering and memory? 

Storytelling came to me really early on. I remember sitting on the stool at the kitchen bench asking my Mum everything about her life and hearing her stories for hours. I was always making up rhymes and basically living in my own head for the first 18 years of my life. I hated school and rules and although I loved to learn, I was a rebel and a loner at heart. I felt that no one saw the world as I did. When I reached late high school and was able to study literature and drama with teachers that were deep thinkers, my brain woke up. I think it was because, for the first time it seemed, they asked us kids, ‘what do you think?’

Then I went to university to study art, the only thing I really felt equipped to do. I never knew how I would eventually make a living. I did the odd jobs. A friend once told me I should do waitressing because I was ‘bubbly’ (I’m not) and I laughed because I knew it would never work out with my bad attitude. When I learned more about academic lecturing as a job and the route that people had taken to get there, I knew that this could be my ticket (or as my kindred poet Charles Bukowski liked to say, ‘the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them’.…) to keep writing, to keep doing what I felt was the one thing I knew how to do, and to be able to have enough money to at least be able to pay my bills. As it turns out, the academic path has rewarded me with so many riches. It has given me opportunities to travel far and wide, to get published, and has kept me on a straight and narrow path when I could have easily fallen in the cracks. For years, my love was cinema. I learned everything I could about it. I had dabbled in philosophy and psychology, but what writers had to say about cinema was far more thought provoking to me. They looked at subjectivity, the way we see things, and analysed stories in an obsessive way that always felt natural to me. I then started curating events and exhibitions. I see now that my work has always been related to memory. I am kind of obsessed with it. I love talking to people about their memories. When I finally had a child (there was much thought and preparation before my daughter came into being) I wanted to see if I could somehow incorporate my mothering into my academic work, or at least have them co-exist in a harmonious way. It felt insincere and pointless to strive to think and talk about things that weren’t related to my current all-consuming experience of motherhood. And so, I decided to seek out mothering in my scholarly field of museum studies.

Q. What has been your most memorable experience through your work so far? Does it include crafting your soon to be published book Representations of Mothers and the Maternal in Museums?

When I have felt heard. It doesn’t happen all the time.

I presented a lecture on the representation of mothers in museums that included some of my own personal reflections. There was one academic, a mother herself who afterwards, told me she just got it. We were both emotional. I could have hugged her. It reminded me why I write and do art in the first place.

All this research will end up in a PhD based at Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology and in a book published by Routledge due out next year, Representations of Mothers and the Maternal in Museums. I’m hoping to do a lavish launch of this book, probably online, to connect with people interested in this topic and to connect like-minded people with each other in stimulating dialogue.

Q. What would you identify to be common themes in both popular or general media in their portrayal of mothers and memory?

I find that generally, at least in mainstream media and Hollywood narratives, mothers are still being placed in a Madonna/whore dichotomy. So real discussions about the complexities of mothering are not happening in that space. I believe that in-order for those stereotypical narratives to change the storytelling tools themselves need to change.

Q. Do you think themes and perceptions are changing? Are they stylistic changes or do you feel they are spurred by changes in cultural perspectives of motherhood changing?

This pandemic is a force of change that I can’t even comprehend yet. It will be interesting to see how public perception of parenting is going to be affected in the pandemic. In Australia at least, there is more discussion happening in the public sphere about the labour of care. The weight of all the lockdown restrictions we have undergone has landed on mothers’ shoulders. We are expected to supervise our children’s home learning and to also somehow earn a living . It is completely unmanageable. There will be a cost. And who do you think will pay the price? There is a lot of anger coming out because of this and I hope that some productive changes can come out of this catastrophic time.

Q. How do you think heteronormative views have affected depiction of motherhood through history? Do you think there is a visual and marked difference when a female mindset guides the narrative?

I think there is certainly a marked difference between when a carer is talking about motherhood and when someone who doesn’t know kids tries to talk about it. I had so many ideas about how kids should be raised before I had a kid. When ideals meet everyday life, things get challenging. I never took into account how much becoming a mother would change me. And not just in that superficial way that TV sitcoms would have you believe. In a physical sense, I am changed completely. These things are hard to express in words and so I am finding, sound and image are helping me articulate stuff that I don’t fully understand myself, at least consciously. Maternal scholars talk about how when a child is born, there is also the birth of a mother. And it really is like that. In early motherhood, I had to search hard to find people that I could talk to about how I was feeling. Eventually I made contact with a psychologist who specializes in perinatal psychology. And everything I mentioned, the experience of reliving my own childhood, forgotten pieces of myself re-emerging, being struck by physically painful feelings like I had been abandoned, crazy anxiety… she basically said, ‘oh yes, I see this a lot’. But of course, to voice these feelings, there is a certain amount at stake. And so, it’s easier to perform motherhood in a way that we are told is acceptable. But how exhausting it’s that?

I have found, and my fellow maternal scholars have expressed this too, that talking about my research is often met with emotional responses and at times, the topic of motherhood can be way too confronting for people. Even if you aren’t a mother yourself, well, we all had one and there is often trauma attached to mothers or the idea of motherhood.

Q. How did you find out about the Museum of Motherhood?  What made you want to work with MOM? 

When I began my research on depictions of motherhood in museums I searched online to see if any museums held collections exclusively devoted to the topic of motherhood. In my country, Australia, there is nothing specifically mother-related out there. Of course, there are a few collections about women and women’s career achievements. But motherhood isn’t given considerable focus. It wasn’t until I had a child that I was slapped in the face with this feeling that now I had become a Mum I had been excluded from the narrative, in so many areas of public discourse and in my day-to-day interactions. When I came across MOM online, I felt validated because other curators and artists are seeing this topic as worthy of exploring in museums and not just in a tokenistic way or in an over-the-top Hollywood narrative kind of way, but they are mining the real stuff, as voiced by mothers themselves. It’s hard to believe that currently, as least in the western world, such an act is still revolutionary. To speak of one’s own mothering is daring.

Q. What are your plans for your time here at the museum?  

I’m going to be studying the MOM collections and exhibitions to better understand how this unique museum represents experiences of mothers. I’m excited to see what kinds of mother-related objects exist in the museum and to find out how artists have expressed ideas about mothering in their works.

Q. What can our readers expect to see from you in the coming months throughout your virtual residency? 

I’m thinking a lot about objects of mothering, or what maternal scholar, Lisa Baraitser calls ‘maternal objects’; those things that are important to us as mothers. In my writing and media art, I’ve been playing with objects that I consider important to my mothering. It’s been an enlightening exercise. It’s funny how if I think about these objects long enough, I realise I have attributed all these qualities and personalities to them. For instance, when I was meditating on the pram we had when my child was a baby, I realised how that pram represented something so solid and comforting to me. In the early days, I was terrified of all the ways she might be harmed. It was all consuming. So, it comforted me to think about this old pram, that we found second-hand, how it had carried many children before mine and even if I felt frightened and didn’t know what I was doing, this pram did, so we’d be ok. This terror, I have found, is shared by many parents if prompted enough about their parenting. But no one really talks about it. It’s this hidden secret. I felt isolated because of this secrecy. It felt that there was an unspoken agreement that it was something we just weren’t meant to talk about. I think this feeling of isolation is what drove me to look at this topic in my work. To seek out others who had felt this way. And to also hopefully, put something out into the world that others would identify with.

Rebecca’s research is supported by the Robert Blackwood Monash University/Museums Victoria fellowship. She would like to thank her PhD supervisors: Dr Thomas Chandler, Associate Professor Joanne Evans and Dr Carla Pascoe Leahy for their support.

If you are interested in applying for a residency here at MOM, please go to our website HERE: https://bit.ly/3uRgugm  to find out more. BE SURE TO HURRY! Spots have been filling FAST! But we also have opportunities for virtual residencies! We hope that future tours of the space will be available soon, but they are by appointment only in Artist Enclave Historic Kenwood: “where art lives.”

MOM Welcomes September Residency: Mär Martinez, Interdisciplinary Artist

MOM is pleased to welcome Mär Martinez for our September Residency at the MOM Art Annex in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mär is an interdisciplinary artist specializing in sculptural painting. Her work dissects dominance, aggression and power dynamics through the lens of a culturally-enforced binary system. She received a BFA in Painting and a BA in Art History at the University of Central Florida.

Mar Martinez: Photo by Tori Stipcak

Selected Awards include: Bridge Ahead Initiative Grant, Bronfman Artist Grant Finalist, Jewish Art Salon Student Fellow, FusionFest Best in Show Award, Order of Pegasus Finalist, Katherine K. & Jacob Holzer Art Scholarship, Frank Lloyd Wright Scholar Recipient, and the Miniature Fine Arts Society Award. Select 2021 Exhibitions include: A Tiny Bit of Fire, London, GENESIS: The Beginning of Creativity, NY, Raw Fibers, FL, GALEX 55 National Juried Competition, IL, ARTFIELDS 2021, SC, Collaborative Animals, OH and Sugar, Spice, and Not Playing Nice, NY. Select 2020 Solo Exhibitions include: FRACTURE, FL, Illusions of Safety, PA, and Schism, FL. Select 2020 Exhibitions include: 2020 Florida Biennial, FL, B20: Wiregrass Biennial, AL, Feminine/ Masculine, Hungary, 2020 College Invitational, IN, and Artfields 2020, SC.        

In 2020, Martinez was Artist-in-Residence at a printmaking-focused residency in Florida. She was Artist-in-Residence at The Spruce in Pennsylvania and conducted visual research through her sculptural paintings. Martinez is a member of the Dorothy M. Gillespie Foundation Advisory Board in Nyack, NY. She is Gallery Admin at Parkhaus15, a DIY artist-run exhibition space in its seminal year in Orlando, FL. She is Special Programs Director at SOBO Gallery in Winter Garden, and is affiliated with the collaborative printing press Flying Horse Editions in Orlando, FL.

In 2021, she was Artist-in-Residence at the Stay Home Residency in Tennessee, and served as the Curator-in-Residence at the Dorothy M. Gillespie Foundation in New York. She will be Resident at the M.O.M. Museum in Florida in the fall. Martinez has recently been accepted as Art and History Museums Maitland’s 2022 Artist-in-Action, and will begin her residency this winter. She can be reached at www.marmartinezart.com or @meatvoid on Instagram.

Top photo –Mär Martinez: Photo by Tori Stipcak

Bottom Art-Titled: Habibti III

Mom Residency Highlights Self-Taught Multidisciplinary Artist Jillian M Rock

Artist Jillian M Rock

Introducing MOM’s most recent artist in residence, multidisciplinary artist Jillian M Rock.

In her work, Jillian M Rock utilizes print in various forms to archive narratives centered in Blackness. Through collage, risograph prints and accompanying narrative, her work is meant to amplify the everyday to dismantle stereotypes of Blackness.

As previously mentioned in our social media platforms, Rock is the owner of Rock Press, a Black woman run printing press aimed at amplifying access to the creation and dissemination of artists’ books and printed matter. Rock is also a teaching artist, an active member of the LAND Collective, on faculty at Studio Montclair and serves on the Board of Directors for the Newark Print Shop. She was in the 2020 Cohort of Feminist in Residence, at Project for Empty Space (PES). In speaking with Rock, her passion for her work in art education and her drive to enlighten her community clearly shine through all she does. Her passion for her work and unique perspective offer valuable insights each of us can learn about ourselves, and how we both live in and affect  the world around us.  This post-residency highlight aims to further  allow us to learn more about her work during her residency, as well as her personal thoughts throughout her stay while designing her project.   

When deciding to have her residency at the M.O.M. Art Annex, she wanted to work on her ongoing publication and audiovisual series  “When A Rock Rest,” which  highlights the significance of rest as a radical act of self-love and joy. Through photo documentation of life during the residency, as well as accompanying text, she wanted to develop a narrative art/photo book, consisting of collages aimed at dismantling stereotypes of the angry Black woman, and instead highlight how Black women, specifically Black mothers, fall further into their softness with rest, reflection, and recalibration. She signified it is a biographical journey of womanhood, motherhood and an ode to her last name, Rock. However, upon arrival at the annex, and taking in how much work the museum had on its walls, she changed her initial desires from wanting to create a larger framed collage to a piece she felt could best  live in the museum. This led her to the idea of creating a booklet. Ultimately, she felt a booklet was “something small enough to be tucked in or displayed separately,” allowing her individual work to be showcased in multiple ways, while still allowing the space to serve as an environment from which future  artists can both live and create without outside influence from previous works.

Finished Booklet Piece “Mama, All Roads Lead to You” an 11×17, 3 layer risograph print of a digital collage of photographs taken during Rock’s stay in the MOM Art annex for their archive collection. Printed at Print St.Pete. Piece contains the author’s poem, which can be found in full text below.

The process of designing and making her print into a  booklet served as a new feat for Rock, as she had never made a former booklet of her work. To not only broaden her knowledge in risograph printing but to expand her artist community, she traveled to the St. Pete Print shop-Print St.Pete, where she immediately connected with founder and artist Kaitlin Crockett. While there, she realized that in creating a booklet, accompanying text would need to be included. As the original idea of her work became to shift and reshape in her mind’s eye, she felt it necessary to include text in order to develop her new concept.  Ultimately it led to her creation of a concept she preferred over her initial plans.

Rock noted that she began the process of creating her piece slowly. Giving herself time to slow down, and ease into the work. She had time to be still, which in turn  altered her perspective. That is where her peace came from. As she continued to create, she traveled to the nearby beach, and took pictures of the scenery as well as outside of the museum. While doing all of this, she continuously wanted to emphasize the importance for such rest.  More specifically, the importance of rest for Black women. Rock identified that Black women are often stereotyped as “strong” and “aggressive” into a somewhat performative role in culture due to preconceived expectations. Therefore additional elements that highlight the other traits and characteristics Black women possess in society are overlooked. Thus creating an inaccurate representation. She argued that,  Black women are strong and can be aggressive. However such characteristics are not the only things by which they are defined, nor are they a hallmark by which to generalize the complex nuances of Black women’s characters. They still need rest and time for themselves-with the ability to be themselves.  The importance of this practice can be applied to all women, but especially mothers in particular. Which is what led to this perspective taking shape within her project and utilizing her own experiences in motherhood to create her project.

Rock’s unique story and narrative as a mother centers on wanting to be the mother she never had. Rock had her children young, in her early twenties, and loves having them around, spending time with them often and doing many things together. She believes having children young helped her form this close bond, as it allowed her to associate with her own generation while also allowing her to be present in the here and now.  In this way, motherhood and children helped form her into the person she is, and have kept her consistent. Further commenting on her relationship with her children, she acknowledges that she places them on equal footing with her, leading to a relationship dynamic that has fostered strong bonds of love and support. 

Artist Image in “Mama, All Roads Lead to You”

Rock wanted to highlight her confidence as a woman in her piece, regarding the combined importance of rest, self-fulfillment and sensuality. In developing her contribution to the M.O.M. archives, she had taken a picture of herself outside lounging in a thong-which ended up being the center of her piece adding the element of sensuality to those of motherhood and rest. Named “Mama, All Roads Lead to You” it is an 11×17 3 layer risograph print of a digital collage of photographs taken during her stay. Printed at Print St.Pete, the piece folds into a booklet, and contains the accompanying poem: 


What does returning to yourself mean when you have been someone else’s for so long?

*

Mama you deserve the lullaby,  the cooked meal, the storytime, kisses on your boo boo even when you’re in pain is inside, you earned that day, those hours, all the minutes to take time for time, to just be still

*

What does returning to yourself mean when you have been someone else’s for so long?

*

Babygirl, yes that body of yours has carried the world, 

both in past and present, but you deserve to decide 

what will happen going forward.

*

Silk against your skin

Mornings without interruptions

Nights of pleasure

*

Mama you deserve that lullaby.

*

You deserve you back!

…or front, or side

But anew

Mama you deserve you.

*

We know what being gentle does for the spirit , we 

practice it everyday

We know what being held feels like, as we are the holders

We know what forgiveness does for the heart; we are the 

light for the forgiven.

*

Mama you deserve that lullaby.

*

Gentle bubble baths while a seat is pulled up hearing your

favorite story

The far-off land that feels nothing and everything like

home

You are home and so you can run, as far and as fast as

you can to the light of piece…of play

*

Mama you deserve more than just one day.”

We can’t wait to have Jillian back as a returning resident artist and are so grateful for her fantastic contribution to M.O.M.’s archives.

To learn more about Jillian, her incredible work, and additional publications, please check out this link to her personal website: https://www.jillianmrock.com/

Also be sure to follow her on Insta, FB and Twitter for updates as well as more of her thoughts on our residency!

Instagram: @jillianmrock

Facebook: Jillian M Rock

Twitter: @JillianMRock

If you are interested in applying for a residency here at MOM, please go to our website HERE: https://bit.ly/3uRgugm  to find out more. BE SURE TO HURRY! Spots have been filling FAST! We hope that future tours of the space will be available soon, but they are by appointment only in Artist Enclave Historic Kenwood: “where art lives.”

Mom Residency Highlights Psychologist Tracy Sidesinger PsyD

Photo: Bridget Badore @bridgetbadore http://www.bridgetbadore.com

As our residency program begins to grow with each new resident, today we would love to highlight previous MOM Art Annex Resident, Psychoanalytic Psychologist Tracy Sidesinger. Tracy also works as a member of the MOM Living Board  as our artist residency coordinator. 

Those of you who kept up with us regularly on our social media platforms during her residency know about her background as a psychoanalytic psychologist currently practicing virtually from Brooklyn and upstate New York. Her writings and practice focus on gender and sexuality, maternal mental health, spirituality, and the arts. She is also co-founder of The New York Center for Community Psychoanalysis, an emerging nonprofit psychotherapy clinic in Brooklyn which makes psychological care accessible to all as a matter of social justice and equity. If you are interested in her field of study or would like to find out more about her previous work, you can find her writings and publications in Studies in Gender and Sexuality, Journal of Mother Studies, Public Seminar, and Routledge. During her residency, she  worked on a collection of essays meant to bridge psychoanalytic insight, interviews, and memoir to bear on the topic of feminine knowing. She confronted topics  related to her project, as well as personal feelings on current topics in public discourse that impacted her throughout her residency. As she first acclimated to her stay and mentally prepared herself to write, she felt that having set aside this time to write about the subject of women’s knowing simply caused her to first write about what prevented her from getting to write in the first place. In light of such difficulties, she humorously reflected “why else would one need to write?” 

With the additional time, she grew more pensive. As she began to work and write “the feminine,” she reflected that for her it  “is knotted even subtly always within the lineage of motherhood “ and “requires some amount of knowing this lineage.” In relation to Sidesinger’s own lineage of motherhood, she reminisced about her maternal grandmother, who lived for nearly 3 decades about an hour’s drive from where she stayed. As she was nearby, and had not returned to the area since her early childhood before her grandmother’s passing, she decided to reconnect and honor her memory by spending a day at her grandmother’s “old haunts.” Memories of their time together came back to Sidesinger, with echoes of her grandmother’s indomitably fierce spirit coming through her memories of their time together, as well as posthumous recognition of her grandmother’s shortcomings as a mother. Despite recognizing such faults, she also recognized that in spite of them, she tried “really fucking hard,”and “survived eight decades when most everyone didn’t care if she lived or died.” Ultimately, through this experience she found strength in the knowledge this new connection provided her regarding  her own lineage of motherhood; further assisting her in the research and writing process. 

Taking breaks throughout the process to center herself and clear her mind, Sidesinger enjoyed excursions such as kayaking near coastal islands, and found solace in nature between hours of work. She especially focused on the local mangroves, finding they resemble our own growth through the connections we make with others; as we share our stories and grow by doing so, we enter new phases of life. Regardless of how experiences affect us, we continue to form new roots that tangle with those already present. Sidesinger felt this realization allowed her to better write about “the problematic structures of nuclear families” in her manuscript. As the days went by, and her residency drew to a close, she found herself bouncing between 5 different manuscripts and a continuously expanding reading list. However, she felt she had become more in touch with her inner voice, stating she felt she “needed to throw a few things back into the ocean” that would otherwise follow her, like doubt and anger. In this way, like mangroves entangle new roots with the old, she connected her stories to those of others, coming into her own and moving forward into new territory. 

To learn more about Tracy, as well her keen insight and work, please check out this link to her personal website: https://nycdepthpsychology.org/ 

Also be sure to follow her on Instagram: @nycdepthpsychologist

If you are interested in applying for a residency here at MOM, please go to our website HERE: https://bit.ly/3uRgugm  to find out more. BE SURE TO HURRY! Spots have been filling FAST! We hope that future tours of the space will be available soon, but they are by appointment only in Artist Enclave Historic Kenwood: “where art lives.”