Meet the Newest Artist Resident at MoM: Marin Sardy

We are excited to announce our newest Guest Artist in Residence, Marin Sardy! Marin is a critically acclaimed author who is currently working on her second novel.

Headshot of Marin Sardy

Q: What is your connection to m/otherhood as an artist?

A: I love the way this question is phrased, with the word that highlights both “motherhood” and “other-hood.” I’m a writer of memoir, personal essays, and other forms of creative nonfiction, and my connection to both of the above concepts centers on my explorations of mental health, caregiving, and disability justice. As the daughter and sister of two people who struggled with serious, chronic mental illness, I wrote my first memoir, The Edge of Every Day, to examine the ways that I have strived to understand their experiences, worked to help them, and been shaped by loss. My current work is more focused on dismantling the deeply ingrained cultural attitudes that continue to prevent people from seeking and receiving effective, respectful mental health care. I’d like to add too that, while I haven’t written about it, I am also a stepmother. In both of these roles, I am and have been “mother-adjacent” in ways that I believe ought to be honored and valued in the face of the too-narrow box that motherhood has often been confined to.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your residency?

A: I plan to make as much progress as I can on my second book, which folds together stories from the lives of two very different women who lived with long-term psychosis: an art photographer whose work I admire, and my mother. I am currently focused on completing a full draft of the portions that relate to my mother, and my role as a daughter who was pushed into, and later embraced, acting as a caregiver for her. I’m interested in questions such as: What does it mean to be a caregiver in a mental health context, when the work involved is so often intangible? What kind of support might have helped both of us to live our lives more fully and safely? And what does this mean for me, as a daughter who spent so much time mothering a mother who had, in my youth, so dramatically failed to mother me? What (if anything) did my mother owe me, and what was it fair or unfair to ask of her?

Q: What led you to MoM and the residency program here?

A: I discovered Mom when I saw former MoM resident Tracy Sidesinger’s post on Instagram announcing that she had been accepted for the residency! Having never heard of the organization, I did a bit of research and quickly decided to apply myself. I was inspired by the museum’s desire to promote community and to both explore and support motherhood in all its facets. It just felt like it made sense for me to try to connect with the organization. Tracy in fact had been a student in an online nonfiction writing course I taught through Catapult a few years ago, and I’m grateful that I stayed in touch with her through social media—partly because her fascinating, thoughtful Instagram account is so  full of wisdom and depth, and partly because she led me to reach out to MoM. 

Continue reading to find out more about Marin.

Marin Sardy is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir The Edge of Every Day: Sketches of Schizophrenia (2019). Sardy’s essays have appeared in the New YorkerTin House, Guernica, the Paris Review Daily, the Missouri Review, and many other journals, as well as in two award-winning photography books. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Sardy has three times had her work listed as “notable” in the Best American series, and she has been awarded residency fellowships at Hawthornden Castle and Catwalk Institute. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and teaches nonfiction writing for Pace University and Authors Publish.

If you are interested in applying for a guest 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.”

Hurricanes and the World Today

Many of us have been shocked by recent world developments in the environment, social climate, and in economics. This week’s hurricane was a brutal reminder of just how devastating and close to home natural disasters can be.

Fortunately, MoM made it out of the storm relatively unscathed, but we still have many concerns for our Florida neighbors as well as those in dire situations across the globe.

In times of great upheaval, in addition to reacting appropriately, many of us also take time to examine our lives, our decisions, and current directions. Should I stay? Should I go? What can I do to make a difference?

Right now, while many within a hundred miles will be digging out of debris, and as we conduct our own onsite cleanup, MoM will persevere with a mission of hosting conversations, gatherings, and forums on what is going right, and what is going wrong, on our planet today.

Our recent residency with sociology fellow Amanda Watson, has been postponed due to the effects of Ian, however we will still hold a roundtable focus group on Wednesday, October 5th 7:30-8:30PM EST, on “children in the face of climate change and reproductive inequity.”

Please join us in our online community Zoom. RSVPs are welcome. In the meantime, please do hold strong. MoM Loves You!

Meet the Newest Artist Resident at MoM: Amanda Watson

We are excited to announce our newest Guest Artist in Residence, Amanda Watson! To gain more insight into who Amanda is as a mother-scholar and to better understand her goals here during her residency, Amanda shared the following:

Headshot of Amanda Watson
Headshot of Amanda Watson

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your residency?

A: For the past few years of pandemic-era mothering, my research and writing have been conducted sporadically, in piecemeal ways, and in stressful conditions. I hope to make space for my research and writing in this residency in order to analyze new data with fresh eyes and write about it with renewed vision for my purpose as a writer, scholar, and mother.

Q: What led you to MoM and the residency program here?

A: I shared research on motherhood at the MoM in Manhattan nearly a decade ago as a graduate student before becoming a parent myself. The cozy space and warm interactions with community members and diverse scholars and practitioners made an impression on me I have always been interested in returning to MoM. On a recent visit to New York City, I found out about the residency in Florida and applied immediately. It seems like the perfect offering for artists and academics who need to make space for their creative ideas and practices to flourish, particularly as mothers coming out of pandemic isolation having spent so much time doing caregiving.

Continue reading to find out more about Amanda.

Dr. Amanda Watson’s research explores how caregivers and community activists navigate complex institutional settings in their efforts to effect social change. Her interests include care, labour, disability, media representation of motherhood. She teaches on politics of family, global problems and the culture of capitalism, and power and conflict in Canadian society. Watson is an Associate Member of the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She serves on the editorial board of Gender & Society.

Current projects include Politics of Birthstrike, exploring how young adults reconcile their desires for ethical family life with resurging population control initiatives to reduce their climate footprint by having fewer children; Imagine Kin Project, investigating how young adults talk about their future relations in the context of interlocking crises; and Politics of Social Justice Parenting, new research exploring the experiences of parents of young children through pandemic closures and trends in parenting.

If you are interested in applying for a guest 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.”

MAMA: ISSUE 52 HBAC Performance Manifesto

HBAC Performance Manifesto – MAMA Artist Bio

SLQS is a Franco-Vietnamese artist living in East London. Her work is interdisciplinary and questions the politics of space and who is excluded from it. SLQS makes and holds space as a woman, a person of mixed heritage, a foreigner, a mother and an artist. She invites her audience to decolonise spatial orders from imperialist, sexist and racist structures. SLQS has presented work at Totally Thames, Spitalfields Music, Rich Mix, Procreate Project, the Live Art Development Agency, the Royal College of Art, the Brunel Museum, the Migration Museum and the Attenborough Art Centre. She is a board member of the Creative Think Tank for UK New Artists.

https://www.workbyslqs.com/                                 @workbyslqs (instagram)

About the work

The HBAC Performance Manifesto was written from my personal experience of being pregnant and not given access to a home birth or the birthing centre. Having previously had a caesarean, I was labelled ‘high risk’ and was not being heard.

On 4th and 5th November 2018, over 25 hours, I performed the act of giving birth at home with the support of two independent midwives. The birth was documented as an act of everyday life in the domestic space, with cameras set up in my kitchen, my bedroom and my living room. The Manifesto declares my views on birth as an every day performance and Home Birth After Cesarean (HBAC) as being a safe birth

option. It was published by the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS) in 2020.

Independent midwifery supports choices for women by providing evidence based information and continuity of care to women. Since 2020, due to their insurance product being annulled, their home birth practice is now prohibited, threatening an ancestral profession and restricting women’s birth rights. A group of independent midwives are taking action and fundraising to set up their own insurance product owned by women, with the long term goal to set up a hardship fund. You can support their campaign here: Childbirth Choices Matters.

HBAC PERFORMANCE MANIFESTO

To the medicalised institutions, their medical staff and the health governmental bodies

ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?

NO I am not high risk

NO I will not go to the labour ward

NO I will not be immobilised by continuous monitoring NO I will not labour under time pressure

NO I will not listen to you

NO I will not be given a trial of labour

I WILL LABOUR!

Giving birth is an ancestral ritual which has been performed at home by women for centuries. An act which has ensured the survival of the human species.

Women and daughters have witnessed the act of giving birth for millennia. Women can perform the art of giving birth and every performance will be unique.

Giving birth is a creative act.

The ultimate act of transformation.

A HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean) is a political act attempting to shift the power from an obstetrically-led medical institution to a woman-centred care approach.

Labour is a durational performance: starting spontaneously with an unexpected duration.

A HABC gives time to the performance of labour. There is no failure to progress, only failure to wait! Patience and respect for the process is practiced.

A HBAC requires participants to support the performer throughout the act of birth. Midwives, partners, family members, friends will be chosen in advance by the performer to participate in the event.

A HBAC enables the performer to control her birth. She is informed and capable of making the right decisions for herself and her baby. She rejects the politics of fear and failure institutionalised by hospital birth.

A HBAC should be available to all women without resistance. All women are eligible for care and should be in control of their choices without judgement.

I AM STRONG

I AM CAPABLE

I TRUST MY BODY I TRUST MY BABY

The performance of HBAC is not a medicalised event. It is a holistic act celebrating life itself. HBAC is performed without the traditional medical props.

NO Forceps NO Ventouse NO CTG

NO Cannulas

NO Augmentation Drugs

NO Amniotomy

NO Epidural

The performance of HBAC challenges the current medical hierarchy of birth. Verticality is replaced by horizontality.

The performance of HBAC reframes birth as an event in a woman’s life in her domestic environment. There is no drama.

Giving birth is a woman’s right of passage into motherhood. A physical and mental journey leading to an act of transformation. Such a journey requires preparation and planning, knowing that unforeseen circumstances can change the course of actions.

A birth plan is a manifesto of personal preferences.

In the performance of HBAC, hospitals and obstetrics interventions are for emergencies only. Giving birth is an innate performance. A primal aptitude buried deep inside every woman.

The performance of HBAC redefines risk. Risk is not measured as a possible scar rupture but as avoiding another assisted birth and future mental trauma associated to this experience.

The performance of HBAC promotes independence. INDEPENDENCE in the choices the performer makes about her birth. INDEPENDENCE from hospital’s policies

INDEPENDENCE from unnecessary medical intervention.

The performance of HBAC respects the culture of birth and the art of midwifery. The performance of HBAC is an act of activism.

Written by Sarah Le Quang Sang, October 2018,

In Flat 55 Maitland House, Bishops Way, London, E2 9HT