Announcing the launch of MER 15!
The 15th annual print issue of Mom Egg Review launches this Sunday at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge. All are invited to attend. The lineup of readers and info for the event are below. It promises to be a truly inspiring reading of diverse literary voices. Advance tickets available till Saturday here:
MOTHERING THE WORLD
This project started after I moved to the Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood.
I’ve spent the better part of the last ten years championing other women’s work. Prior to that, I focused musically on “performance” art. During years of songwriting and concert-making ideas are projected outward in a noisy fashion. The work I’m engaging in now is very intimate and is more of a reflection than a projection.
I am interested in exploring my body is a site of production and reproduction. It is (and has been) a site of concept making and conception-formation. Through the years it has belonged to many people, including children, partners, governments, societies, country, state, church, and home. Some of these places are unique, and some are not. However, this basic premise is clear – my body has been a site of production and “making.”
As I began editing my thoughts for this project, I realized that I never said my body belongs to me. So, more than ever this fact becomes a justification for this work, which in so many ways, mirrors what so many women have been taught to feel –namely, that women’s bodies belong to others more than they belong to themselves. Now, in the era of the new Trump administration, this may be true more than ever. It is especially important to share the truth of what it is to bring forth another human, to nurture them, and to make my body a site of visible production and labor. I want to disrupt the “nice,” “perfectly groomed,” woman-mother-persona. Here she is. Stripped down: naked, bloody, imperfect, and old but still a work of art.
Martha Joy Rose, January 29, 2017
Joy Rose is part of the Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood. Sheis a musician, concert promoter, museum founder, and fine artist. Her work has been published across blogs and academic journals and she has performed with her band Housewives On Prozac on Good Morning America, CNN, and the Oakland Art & Soul Festival to name a few. She is the NOW-NYC recipient of the Susan B. Anthony Award, her Mamapalooza Festival Series has been recognized as “Best in Girl-Power Events” in New York, and her music has appeared on the Billboard Top 100 Dance Charts. She founded the Museum of Motherhood in 2003, created the Motherhood Foundation 501c3 non-profit in 2005, saw it flourish in NYC from 2011-2014, and then pop up at several academic institutions.
Art Show in March: Rose’s current live/work space in Kenwood St. Petersburg, Florida is devoted to the exploration of mother-labor as performance art.The upcoming date for the next Kenwood Artist Tour is March 18th and 19th, 2017 noon-5pm. See map and find out more and to tour the studios of participating St. Pete, Fla craftspeople: [LINK]
The Disruptions, Extrusions, and Other Chaotic Consequences exhibit begins with an enhanced chest of drawers. Says Rose, “we are always trying to put everything in a box….Make it neat. Or, hide things away. Here is your chance to pick a secret or leave a secret behind.” There are also photographs of body parts, paintings, and mixed media with emerging dolls. You can visit the MOM Art Annex during the Kenwood Artist Tour.
Poem for Canvas Squat
I went out to the studio and sat on a canvas
I don’t know why except that everything that has sprung from my loins is fantastic.
Four amazing kids- now adults: Brody, Blaze, Ali, Zena.
Before that, lots of painful blood. Since them – ART!
If art is like giving birth, then let the creations be fantastic too. This is my pop squat.
Everything truly great has come from between my legs. Occasionally my throat, but, mostly from between my legs…. What have you got down there? Show the world.
The human body is central to how we understand facets of identity such as gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. People alter their bodies, hair, and clothing to align with or rebel against social conventions and to express messages to others around them. Many artists explore gender through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative process.
The 1960s and 1970s were a time of social upheavals in the United States and Europe, significant among them the fight for equality for women with regards to sexuality, reproductive rights, the family, and the workplace. Artists and art historians began to investigate how images in Western art and the media—more often than not produced by men—perpetuated idealizations of the female form. Feminist artists reclaimed the female body and depicted it through a variety of lenses.
Around this time, the body took on another important role as a medium with which artists created their work. In performance art, a term coined in the early 1960s as the genre was starting to take hold, the actions an artist performs are central to the work of art. For many artists, using their bodies in performances became a way to both claim control over their own bodies and to question issues of gender.
- Link 1: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/7942/five-radical-female-artists-who-used-their-body-as-a-canvas
- Link 2: http://www.lostateminor.com/2014/05/02/plopegg-artist-lays-eggs-form-vagina-paintings/
- Link 3: The representation of the female body in the feminist art as the body politics:http://www.academia.edu/9119835/The_representation_of_the_female_body_in_the_fminist_art_as_the_body_politics
- Link 4: The work of Christen Clifford who recently performed Feminist Peep Show at the Museum of Motherhood in St. Petersburg, Fla 2017: http://christenclifford.tumblr.com/
- Link 5: Collage work by Virginia Fitzgerald: https://www.pinterest.com/mizdress/virginia-fitzgeralds-art-and-illustration/
- NOTE: One image was pulled from Pinterest and the image had no artist name associated with it. The pussy w/fur painting is a re-interpretation.
- Go to ProCreate to read more….. [LINK]
Thanks to everyone who made this first conference in St. Petersburg such a wonderful success. Conference presentations were on a diverse range of topics including, “The politics of mothering,” by Meredith L. Clements, Ariane Anderson, Lindy Davidson, & Grace Peters,“Next time follow your dreams a little closer to home,” by Patti Ashley, “‘Peer breast milk sharing as resistance to patriarchal control,” by Shannon K. Carter & Beatriz M. Reyes-Foster, and “The New Momism in Judicial Decision,” by Michelle Hughes Miller to name a few. To see a complete list of presentations go to our Conference Schedule page.
As always, the collaboration, and community formed through our time together were a significant highlight.
Christen Clifford’s “Feminist Peep Show” and invocation served as a point of connection for all participants. Her performance explored aspects of the maternal body, challenged cultural taboos, and educated conference goers about the last thirty years of feminist performance art including the early work of Annie Sprinkle. (Keep reading below image for more information).
Exhibits are ongoing at the new MOM Art Annex as are residency opportunities. To find out more about residencies go to the information page [LINK] or write M. Joy Rose: info@MOMmuseum.org
Next up is the Art Walk in Historic Kenwood on March 18 & 19th. Museum founder, M. Joy Rose will have current works included as part of this tour. A downloadable map is available at www,kenwoodartistenclave.org
Recent press on the Art Walk appeared in the Boston Globe [LINK]:
Kenwood is an official “artist enclave,” a municipal designation that allows artists in the neighborhood to teach classes and sell artwork from their homes. There are about 60 artist members, most working in home studios in renovated historic buildings. Several times a year these artists open their studios to the public. The next Historic Kenwood Artist Tour is March 18-19.
Aga Gasiniak – In Her Own Words
My creativity is a journey. My work is very intuitive and symbolic. I tell stories through my paintings. Paintbrushes, paints, varnishes and canvases are tools to describe emotions, colors, and forms instead of words. Every painting is a glimpse of memory, place, stillness and natural beauty. Every painting is a story. One takes place of another almost simultaneously. Synchronicities happen also in art.
Painting requires taking risks, it is like a jump into deep water. The moment of emerging to the surface is pure happiness. It is also a joy, need, relief, meditation, getting through and fixing, constant learning. It is a fear as well, journey, expression, and the act of self- love.
Painting helps me to feel the past moment of beauty, peace, and happiness one more time. It is sometimes like time travel through parallel worlds. Past, present, and future penetrate through the process of creating. I am here and there at the same time.
My inspirations are strangely almost seasonal and follow’s cycles in nature and life. They are black and white photographs of remote places, electric posts, stars, children, moon, women, shells, the seaside, driftwood; feet, spirit and wild animals and all those things which are lost between words and images and could be found only through emotions. I leave the clues of my identity in the techniques and the subjects I use and the more I paint or create the more I become aware of it.
Creating is constantly affected by life changes. Everything is connected which leaves every painting with an emotional and personal touch. I painted my recent landscapes during pregnancy. They represent not only places and moments of stillness but also emotions related to expecting a first child, adapting to changes and getting through the journey of the pregnancy. Go to PROCREATE PROJECT FOR MORE…. [LINK]
Aga is a self-taught artist and finds that she is continually learning and evolving in her artwork. Her current body of work is focused on Scottish landscapes and her son’s portraits. Many of her images are inspired by visiting and taking photographs of Scottish landscapes and people whose stories or lives have had an impact on her life. Her art and creative process are an endless journey of experiences, feelings, ideas and thoughts. Aga works with various mediums including watercolors, acrylics, pastels, and oils. Aga’s work was exhibited in Edinburgh and was published in ‘The Mother’ magazine.
Additional Words: The Giraffe
By Laura Sloan Patterson from Mom Egg Review Vol. 14
There is a cry across the hall. Not the toddler cry of I want, I hate, You will do it now, but an adult sob wrested into baby vowels. He squats on the floor, holding a rubber giraffe we once pretended French, a toy he hasn’t touched since early teething. He’s unearthed his own archeology, buried in a canvas bin, the culture of his babyhood, and there’s an electrical crackle of shock. He folds her neck rhythmically and with each chiropractic bend, her keening squeak, and tears squeezed from his eyes. He cannot stop—the squeezing or the crying. He used to squeeze her like that and laugh deep in his body. When he tips his face up to mine, I see that it has happened: he knows I’m useless. He’s two, the age of purest reason. But perhaps I am mistaken: was there another offense? Did they quarrel? Did she come home late, smelling of Snoopy and snow cones? I’ll kill that giraffe bitch, I think. But later, while my son sleeps. I’ll disembowel her and dance on her squeaker. Lying down at night, I see my boy’s eyes in that moment of looking up, dimensional tunnels of sorrow. I mentally gather my tools: kitchen scissors, X-Acto knife, trash bags. But in the early morning I wake and know: I could hack legions of rubber giraffes, slit the evil girlfriend’s tires, blackmail every admissions committee in the world. No use. It’s not them but a sadness sipped from my own placenta, grown in the calcium of his bones. He grips the giraffe like the last bitter tuber in a burned-out forest, a rhizome he must carry on from here.
Last month we shared our first residency at the new M.O.M. Art Annex with Christen Clifford who stayed at the Florence Joy Greist Memorial Guest Cottage editing a book about sexual assault. Christen’s unvarnished, honest approach to everything serves as inspiration for us all.
In February, Christen returns with her “Feminist Peep Show“ performance as part of the “Mothering From the Margins” Conference in St. Pete. You can read a little more about that here, and also more about SPEAKING OUT courtesy of the WordPress “Daily Post.”
Museum of Motherhood founder, M. Joy Rose looks forward to presenting prominent women’s voices on a regular basis at the new Art Annex. She has been SPEAKING UP AND OUT on motherhood, feminism, and the arts since 1997 with her band Housewives On Prozac as well as at lecturing at colleges and conferences across North America. She will be presenting on the topic of “Disruptions” during the conference. More at Joy-Rose.com
– ALSO –
Dr. Andrea O’Reilly – Delivers the Keynote as part of the Mothering From the Margins Conference on Friday, Feb. 10th at 5 PM. Her presentation, titled “The baby out with the bathwater: The disavowal and disappearance of motherhood in feminism,” is sure to enlighten and inspire! Andrea O’Reilly Ph.D. is a writer on women’s issues and currently a Professor in the School of Women’s Studies at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is the author and editor of eighteen books on motherhood and founder of MIRCI, and Demeter Books.
The M.O.M. Conference takes place Feb. 10-11 at 538 28th St. N. St Pete, Florida 33713. By RSVP only. “Feminist Peep Show” performance is Saturday, Feb. 11th 1:15-2:15 PM.
FIND A FULL SCHEDULE FOR THE CONFERENCE ONLINE HERE
TO ATTEND: RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org
“Clifford’s (art) is intended to serve as a call to arm’s when women’s reproductive rights are increasingly under attack.” Women in the World, The New York Times
“Christen Clifford has made it her mission to fight the patriarchy with art and a little irreverence.” NYLON magazine
Christen Clifford is a mother, feminist performance artist, writer, curator, and professor. She was an artist and curator for the recent Nasty Women exhibit that raised almost $50k for Planned Parenthood. Hyperallergic called her protest “We Wish Ana Mendieta Was Still Alive” one of the best Art and Activism pieces of 2014. The script of her solo BabyLove, which she performed at The Museum of Motherhood in Manhattan, is in the permanent collection of theNew York Public Library. She lives and works in New York and online @cd_clifford
Get inspired by those who speak out. Whether through blogging or marching, make your voice heard.
Featured Artist is Christen Clifford and her Pussy Bow (from imprints of her actual pussy on silk) – See more at ProCreate for images [LINK}.
Christen Clifford is a writer, feminist performance artist, curator, professor, actor, and mother who lives in Queens.
By Karen Malpede
My daughter, born the year Ronald Reagan was elected president in a landslide, has given birth to her first child in the year Donald Trump squeaked into the presidency. She was raised on the outskirts of what was then un-gentrified Park Slope and she lived in a theater, the loft-space held our living rooms and our stage. She was raised collectively—at the Park Slope Food Coop and the Park Slope Child Care Collective, where she and I met friends we have to this day. I mothered her collectively as well. She came with me everywhere: meetings, rehearsals, my monthly food coop work slot and I worked one day a week in her child care. She came with me to women’s conferences on war and peace, and ecofeminism. She camped with me at the Women’s Peace Encampment. I have a photo of her, at four years old, dressed in a striped red and white bathing suit, weaving yarn across the exit to the military base, to keep the nuclear missiles inside. They were supposed to be sent to allied nations in Europe, where they would be driven around on trucks for quick launch into the Soviet Union.
We were successful, by the way, not just “we” of course, but the anti-nuclear movement kick-started by women on the antiwar left in England, at Greenham Common, in Germany and in the US. I was arrested as one of the White House Lawn Eleven in 1979, the year before my child was born. I was arrested, again, at a Wall St. anti-militarism demonstration when I was six months pregnant. These protests gained enough popular resonance and force to result in the nonproliferation treaty between Reagan and Gorbechov (which might well be over-turned by Trump and Putin).
My daughter knew my friends, who were artists, activists and mothers: Grace Paley, Barbara Deming, Dorothy Dinnerstein, Judith Malina, Sybille Claiborne, Eve Merriam, and the only two still alive, ecofeminist organizer and writer, Ynestra King, whose birth I assisted and whose son my daughter met the day after he was born, and Martha Bragin, an international child-of-war trauma specialist with a program for Afghan social workers in Kabul, whose child was in the same collective day care. My daughter was breast fed on demand until she was four years old because she was mainly always with me and because it was always all right, or it felt all right to me, to breast feed where ever I was when she was hungry or needed comfort (although I lost a theater grant for breast feeding at a meeting with a local Brooklyn utility). Only once did I pump milk for her to leave in reserve so her father could do the feed—when I went to the second Women’s Pentagon Action, in 1982; and, then, too, to relieve myself, I expressed my breast milk into one of the public toilets in the shopping mall underneath the Pentagon, which felt like a ritual-offering of sorts. I finished a play the day before I went into labor. I remember sitting on the floor bending over my huge belly collating pages. That night I went to the Women’s Salon which I had co-founded, a monthly forum that hosted major writers the minute their books or plays came out. The play I finished before labor was produced in Brooklyn at the Arts at St. Ann’s, then still in the downtown church, when my child was one year old. The first time I took her in my arms into the church for a rehearsal, she, excited but too young to speak, pointed at the domed cathedral ceiling alive with light flooding through the stained glass. “Mama, see!” The words burst out in awe. It would be months before she actually began to talk, but during rehearsal breaks she would crawl onto center stage, sit and mime the gestures of the actors.
Does all this sound antiquated and odd? Or does it sound like a golden age long gone?
Nothing could be less like the motherhoods of my daughter, or of Martha’s daughter, a housing lawyer, or the daughter of another friend, a public health specialist at a state health and human services department. These mothers spend hours of their day pumping breast milk for storage in refrigerators and freezers to be given to their children when they are away at work. My daughter pumps in an employee bathroom at Trader Joe’s, where she works, in San Antonio, Texas, where she and her husband moved because on working class salaries they could afford to buy a house. Martha’s daughter refers to herself as a small-time dairy factory, pumping milk for her son born prematurely who has yet to be fed except through a pipette. At the health and human services agency, nursing mothers must make a reservation to use the lactation room because it is too small for more than one breast-feeding woman at a time. It never occurred to anyone in “human services” that women might pump and talk together, about work or children or whatever, or, perhaps, it did occur to someone and this is why the room is only large enough for one. Another friend with a young child works on the UN Food Program and is based in Egypt. She has to pump in the prayer room reserved for her Muslim co-workers; there is no other space even for those whose job is figuring out how to feed women and children across the African continent.
These first-time mothers have all been told, they’ve told themselves, they must breast-feed their children for the first two years. My daughter comes from her late shift at 12:30 am and pumps for an hour so there will be milk for her next shift the next day. Then she nurses the baby when he wakes in the middle of the night. Before she leaves for work, she pumps again, after nursing and feeding her baby his home-cooked organic, mashed fruits and vegetables. And she does without another woman’s voice, another woman’s helping hand. She’s alone in her suburban house.
At the same time as the fetus has become “a person”; motherhood has been privatized. What once was, in my memory, collective and communal, joyful—with children passed from day-care to play-date to sleep-over among families who knew each other well, or taken with their mothers to work and on adventures where there were other adoring adults—has become a solitary endurance contest. The mother must not falter; she cannot not produce the milk. She cannot not go to work. She is busy virtually 24 hours a day; she rarely sleeps and is always tired.
Breast-feeding in public is forbidden. Pumping rooms are lonely, inhospitable places. And the burden of feeding her child an optimum diet—of breast milk—is solely hers.
Pumping machines are plastic cups held by hand to the breast, with cords running to a receptacle and they have a wheezing motor. Some pumps are more effective than others, of course, but the machines that come with most insurance plans are ineffectual and slow; it takes a long time to pump six ounces of milk.
Women are isolated, relegated to private, sometimes unsanitary spaces, while they pump. Pumping is considered break-time from work. I had never considered any of this until I visited my daughter in San Antonio and watched her days and nights. When her husband comes home from work, she goes to work. They have an hour or two at most of waking time together. The child is passed between them. He’s still young, at 9 months, but there are no playgroups and scant outings with other mothers. Most of her friends leave their children with their grandmothers while they work (thus, social security subsidizes childcare), but I live and work in New York.
The privatization of motherhood is, of course, the conservative goal. Our lives should be privatized. We should all be in it for ourselves. Wealthy women can hire nannies, but this is just the privileged form of privatization. Mothers on a treadmill from work to nurture to the breast pump have no time to get together, much less to organize.
The point of anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s important book Mother and Others is that children reared and fed by groups of responsive adults (as all children in “primitive” hunting and gathering societies were and are or “they were unlikely to survive”) “learned to perceive their world as ‘giving place.’” This matters greatly, Hrdy says because “Within the first two years of life, infants fortunate enough to be reared in responsive caretaking relationships develop innate potentials for empathy, mind reading and collaboration, and often do so, with astonishing speed.”
Collective childrearing is not just good for mothers, alleviating some of the astonishing boredom of being with an infant or young child; it is essential for children if we wish, that is, to raise empathic adults, capable of understanding and caring for others as well as themselves. Those who see the world as a “giving place” are much less likely to destroy it and themselves with it. They are much more likely to take care.
Hrdy points out those evolutionary traits that are not used can atrophy and disappear. So, she posits, might be the case with empathy. That which once made us human because we recognized the other in ourselves and responded to the stresses and challenges of society as an I and Thou exchange in which our own best interests are best served by serving the best interests of others (for instance, stopping climate change and nuclear proliferation) is in danger of atrophying for lack of use. By privatizing the social activity that demands and creates empathy, we run the risk of raising human creatures wanting this essential trait. A sort of monstrous version of ourselves, loose and amuck in a universe ever-more endangered by our own actions, a world threatened by our inability to understand our own connections.
My daughter’s childhood was spent around the collective, women-dominated antinuclear and peace movements of the 1980ies; it is bitterly ironic that her child has been born into a moment when Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have decided to play “nuclear chicken” with our planet and to drill for its remaining oil. Nothing would be important, now, again, than women’s voices, raised with all the authority of motherhood, to demand an end to nuclear weapons and real public policy actions to retard climate change. At this same moment, motherhood has become such a private, taxing, full-time job that woman lack the energy and strength, and the hours in the day, to secure a future for their children. This is the cost of privatizing our most communal trust: the raising of children to care.
If my, now elder generation, managed, we also failed to leave a legacy that made it possible for our daughters and their daughters to live collectively as we had. All I can say in defense is that my daughter proves my point; she is one of the most empathic people I ever met; kind and compassionate to her core, struggling and aware. But she is alone with her child. Without collective action focused on planetary peace and renewal her child’s future is grim.
Karen Malpede is a playwright and writer, co-founder of Theater Three Collaborative, editor of Acts of War: Iraq & Afghanistan in Seven Plays and Women in Theatre: Compassion & Hope. Plays in Time, a collection of four of her plays, is forthcoming in 2017. Her work appears in The Kenyon Review, Torture Magazine and The Brooklyn Reader, and has been published in The New York Times, The Drama Review, TriQuarterly, Confrontations and elsewhere. She is an adjunct associate professor of theater and environmental justice at John Jay College, City University of New York.
M.A.M.A. is the Museum of Motherhood, the ProCreate Project, the Mom Egg Review, as an International exchange of ideas and art. M.A.M.A. will celebrate the notion of being “pregnant with ideas” in new ways. This scholarly discourse intersects with the artistic to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between the creative, the academic, the para-academic, the digital, and the real, as well as the everyday: wherever you live, work, and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. Download the Press Release here or read about updated initiatives.
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