Batya Weinbaum, Goddesses, and the Season of Light

‘Tis the season of grace and friendship. Let us shine our lights brightly and wide. Let us reflect on the past as we approach the new year. Let that include in our reflections a little understood, often neglected vast herstory of Goddess-wisdom from within the pagan evolutions of this holiday season rooted in mystical wisdom and earth worship.

As the director of the MoM for almost twenty years, I have met with academics, artists, and m/others from around the world. They often share elaborative perspectives on women’s issues, family studies, and feminism. I often meet people who have lived experiences vastly different than my own. They always inspire.

For example, artist, scholar, and Femspec editor, Batya Weinbaum arrived onsite at MoM for a month of mural-making and herstory speaking at the beginning of December. Everyday, there is some new story. Beginning with her early years in Manhattan as a young feminist participating variety in consciousness-raising collectives to her systematic sharing of stories of art-making and land-living. Batya regularly teaches college coursework, hosts online art circles, and speaks at international gatherings. For me, she has become a wise, welcome daily fixture onsite at MoM, where young families regularly visit to hear her stories and where we collaborate on some art-sharing circles.

Batya is a graduate of Hampshire College and a mosaic muralist acclaimed for an eight year art installation project on Isla Mujeres, Mexico, where images of fertility goddesses from around the world and across cultures were assembled in large figurines in order to lend strength to the Maya fertility goddess, IxChel. Her work elaborates on the Neolithic period, influenced by the works of Marija Gimbutas, Riane Eisler, Monica Sjoo (The Great Cosmic Mother) and Elizabeth Barber (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years), who discuss periods of human history when motherhood was not a liability but something to be revered.

While visiting the MOM Art Annex, she will be constructing a fertility goddess mural from 6000 BCE. She believes women need to get in touch with origin myths in order to be strong women today. I agree!

This energy is significantly meaningful for students of all ages. Beyond contemporary celebrity icons, it is important to channel the power of the little studied leaders of a more female-friendly, woman-centric world.

Dr. Weinbaum’s contributions to MoM will serve up inspiration as well as a powerful legacy of connection to community members touring the MOM Art Annex as we build together towards our vision of a Museum of Motherhood here in St. Pete.

“Batya’s work hits on so many different levels for women, whether or not they’re mothers or feminists… And even in our current political climate, I think all women can and will find a unique resonance with this booming goddess that she’s installing at MOMMuseum. For me personally, as someone who has always struggled with balancing humility and pride, Batya’s raw, bold work inspires bravery and pride in addition to capturing the colorful joys that mothers contribute to a community.” – Dannie Snyder, Artivist & Educator 

BIO: Batya Weinbaum is a visionary artist whose works have been sold at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, the Oberlin Art Museum, and many galleries in NY, Boston, VA, OH, Hawaii and Michigan as well as Mexico. She has been active in the Association for the Study of Women in Mythology. Some of her work can be seen at goddess vibe.org. Dr. Weinbaum teaches online at Boston College in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, and American Public University. She earned her doctorate at UMass Amherst, her Master’s at SUNY Buffalo, and her Bachelor’s at Hampshire College. She has published numerous creative and critical works, including award-winning essays, fiction and poetry. She was a cofounder of the Feminist Mother’s and Their Allies Caucus and Task Force in National Women’s Studies Association, where she petitioned for child care, and has published extensively about the impact of motherhood on grassroots political organizing in Palestine/Israel, in numerous journals and anthologies. 

Great Cosmic Mother

As Batya writes, “A museum dedicated to the study of motherhood deserves a message from the past via an image of a goddess, a fat fecundity image seated on a throne flanked by lions from Catal Huyuk now in Turkey, conjuring up shrines where goddesses were revered for giving birth.”

Ms. Weinbaum splits her time between Floyd VA and Cleveland Hts, OH, is happy to grant interviews about the project. Her art, publications, workshops and adventures can be followed on IG #divinefemimineartworkshops

More on Goddesses Brooklyn Museum [here].

Yours in Affirmations for World Peace, Feminist Equalities, and Friendship,

Martha Joy Rose, Director

M.A.M.A. Issue 53 – Jessica Caldas

The Museum of Motherhood, ProCrete Project, the Mom Egg Review present M.A.M.A. Our collaboration celebrates the intersection of art and words. Wherever we live, work, and play, the art of motherhood is made manifest. #JoinMAMA  @ProcreateProj  @MuseumOfMotherhood @MERliterary

ART

BIO: Jessica Caldas is a Puerto Rican American, Florida and Georgia based, artist, advocate, and activist. She completed a residency at MoM onsite in 2022. Her work connects personal and community narratives to larger themes and social issues. Caldas has participated in numerous emerging artist residencies, including the Atlanta Printmakers Studio in 2011, MINT Gallery’s Leap Year Program from 2012-2013, The Creatives Project form 2018-2019, Vermont Studio Center in 2020, and was the Art on the Atlanta Beltline AIR in 2020-2021. Caldas was awarded The Center for Civic Innovations 2016 Creative Impact award, named Creative Loafing’s Best of ATL Artist for 2016 and 2015, received the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Emerging Artist Award in Visual Arts for 2014, and was a finalist for the Forward Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award in 2014. Her work has been featured at Burnaway, ArtsAtl, Creative Loafing Atlanta, Atlanta Magazine, Simply Buckhead, and more. Her work has been shown at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA and is included in the collections of Kilpatrick Townsend, The City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Kyoto International Community House.

In her advocacy work, Caldas has spent time lobbying for policy at the local level in Georgia and spent time with the YWCA Georgia Women’s Policy Institute at the 2016 general assembly to assure the passage of the Rape Kit Bill and in 2016 to stop HB 51 in 2017, a bill that would have harmed the safety of sexual assault survivors on college campuses.

Caldas received her Masters of Fine Arts degree at Georgia State University in 2019 and received her BFA in printmaking from the University of Georgia in 2012. She currently runs Good News Arts, a small community arts space and gallery in rural North Central Florida.

Statement

My work is driven by personal experience and its connection to contemporary and historical issues. Overall, my work addresses the complexities and intricacies of care and identity in our current culture. I seek to make challenging experiences accessible to those without the same somatic knowledge while still engaging in conversation and confrontation. In my practice, I incorporate layered, labor intensive drawings, collage, sculpture, performance, et al, into fully realized mixed media works and immersive installations. Within my work, the viewer is met with bodily experiences that mirror the complexities of the stories I share, with a focus on shared knowledge, awareness, empathy, and change.

My recent work is mostly divided in two ways:
1. Focus on the daily lived experiences of women; their triumphs, their struggles, and everything in between in several bodies of work which reflects on the complicated spaces, both personal and public, that women inhabit and move through.
2. Exploration of the complexities of identity where family history, cultural and social influence, politicization, and personal desire are both at odds and overlapping. In this exploration identity becomes a fact-based excavation of personal history alongside a kind of fictional mythological world building.

My artistic process has become a slow one. Where once I worked quickly, and almost frantically, I have learned in the years since completing my graduate work  that a slower, more methodical approach serves me and my work much more completely than the ways I used to create. I spend an inordinate amount of time, months and sometimes longer, reading, writing, and researching ideas, stories, and concepts that inform the work I am creating. I probably spend more time thinking about the work I will make than actually producing it, because by the time I have gotten to the point of making, I have a lot of knowledge about where I am going and what I want from the work. This is not to say that I create without reacting to what is happening, because that is another important part of my practice. Much of my production is also organic and reactionary as well. I like the ability to respond to change, materials, problems, and other things that happen in the studio as they happen, rather than strictly adhering to a plan. I find that flexibility has produced far better work than rigidity ever does. It is more real and more realistic.

As for my journey, I am one of those fortunate people who have been creating my whole life. I was privileged enough to be surrounded by art from a young age, and to be surrounded by people who took art seriously and supported my desire to practice art professionally. So going to school for art was never an issue.

(Quote from the art journal: an online journal of art and cultural commentary. Link: https://www.theartsection.com/caldas)

WORDS

Dayna Patterson is the author of Titania in Yellow (Porkbelly Press, 2019) and If
Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Her creative work has
appeared recently in Duende, EcoTheo, and Gulf Coast. She is the founding
editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother
in Mormon Poetry. She was a co-winner of the 2019 #DignityNotDetention Poetry
Prize judged by Ilya Kaminsky. daynapatterson.com

Joy Report: Team Art Shows, MoM Conference, and #Giving Tuesday

Hello Friends,

It’s sunny in Florida and a balmy 76 degrees and many of us are celebrating together in traditional ways. The Christmas tree is ready to be illuminated downtown, fake snow is in the air, and lights abound. Whether you are prepping the family menorah, or simply looking towards Festivus, may we be glad and of good will. May we lift up those suffering through hunger and war and let us show kindness to our neighbor and gentleness in our homes.

Let us create! Let us show our souls! Let us paint our dreams and mold images out of clay. Let us stitch together a herstory that weaves its way from the city of the arts, in the neighborhood of Kenwood, ‘where art lives’, all the way to you, wherever you may be.

This weekend, MoM team member Elena Rodz has a solo art show at Redbud Gallery 303 E. 11th St. Houston, TX 77008, Texas. The title of her show is, Dilly Dally. Dates: Dec 3 – Jan 1/ Reception: Dec 3, 6-9PM

Artist Statement: The show’s title “Dilly Dally” refers to the practice of enjoying life at a walking pace. Like many of my generation, I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of the Now — the biannual once-in-a-millennia events, the metropolitan cultural hubs we all rushed to after undergrad, the gauntlet from grade school to (maybe) retirement. A move to a small city in Texas in 2013 prompted a reconsideration at the pace I experienced life. I learned to look each moment in the face rather than over its shoulder.

This series of paintings challenges the viewer to suspend thought. The imagery and composition are superficial, and the response should be primal. I want the viewer to feel instinctually rather than put thought into deciphering the hidden meaning of the artwork. The purpose of the artwork is to pause and appreciate the slow moments and the overlooked beauty of the average. Although the scenes are all real places in Corpus Christi, TX, they recall anywhere once called home.

We applaud Elena and love her dearly for her creativity, spunk, and expertise. She greatly contributes to the MoM team and we are all better for knowing her. See more of Elena’s art which is available for purchase here.


We are excited for our Annual Conference this March 23-24 in St. Pete and on Zoom. THE DEADLINE to SUBMIT IS EXTENDED TO DECEMBER 10th. You only need to submit a 250 word abstract about an academic paper, art project, or other medium on the topic of Reproductive Landscapes: This conference call is for papers, performances, conversations, and art, focused on new gender identities and discourse. Here is the full CFP and submit via the JourMS website. Won’t you please join the conversation about this very important topic!


It’s #GivingTuesday! This year MAKE IT MoM and help us GROW!

We have DREAMS of a PLACE to call OUR own. A museum that ELEVATES, illuminates, DISSEMINATES, and complicates this wildly IMPORTANT identity, JOB, journey, and POSITION of care, CONCERN, birth, and LIFE- the WOMYN at the CENTER of creativity, PROCREATION, productivity, SORROW, hope, HELP, and JOY 💓– any DONATION amount MAKES a difference. We ARE the ART, science, and HERstory of M/others.

Any amount benefits our forward movement; $5, $10, $15, $25, $50, $100, $1,000. We have so much we are $5, $15, $10, $25, $100, $1,000 towards MEMBERSHIP, acquisitions, BUILDING CAMPAIGN.

We look forward to your energy, your care, your good vibes, and your financial support. THANK YOU!

As November winds to a close and December rushes in, let us take time to reflect not only on the things we are grateful for, but the ways in which we can all heed the call to ‘do better’ in our lives, our relationships, and in the ways we work and move in the world.

Love, Love, Love,

Joy Rose, Director and Founder (Link to our December Newsletter)

November News: Internships, Numbers, and Making M/otherhood Count!

Hello World – How are things going for everyone? As we roll from October into November, signaling the beginning of another holiday season, we want to share our inspiration, hope, and love to each of our friends near and far.

Our November Newsletter went out last week. If you are not getting our monthly updates, please DO sign up for our newsletter using one of the links here on our website:

The Annual Academic MoM Conference will take place in person and online in 2023. Call for papers is posted. This annual event is a collaborative effort with artists and academics to create experiences that are both educational and artistic in nature, contributing to the body of work that comprises a vast field of mother studies. CFP due by November 30th! Link to CFP.

The 7th Issues of the Journal of Mother Studies is now live and available to read. This journal is a peer-reviewed, international, interdisciplinary open-access, digital humanities hybrid project focused on Mother Studies, a field of study devoted to the issues, experiences, topics, history, and culture of m/others, mothering, and motherhood. Special thanks to our editor Nicole Musselman! Read more.

You’re invited to join the St. Petersburg Mothers’ Club, where everyone is welcome. If you crave connection, heartfelt conversation, and an opportunity to explore the nuances of m/otherhood while navigating your individual well-being, this is the place for you! Read more.

We welcomed another intern this fall. Гердт Мария has been diligently combing through some of our more advanced texts to facilitate a new round of MoM classes in the new year. We hope to synthesize her research with existing coursework in order to launch an easily accessible class in mother studies for all to see. She has been diligently translating portions of the book the Women Founders by  Patricia Madoo Lengermann, Gillian Niebrugge. Now more about Maria:

My name is Maria, I’m a second-year undergraduate student at Higher School of Economics in Moscow. I’m a sociology major and a pubic history minor. I’m passionate about women’s rights, female literature and art, especially representing relationships between mothers and daughters or sapphic relationships, but I generally find women’s studies and herstory an inspiring and fascinating academic field. I’ve written multiple student’s papers on the topic, published two articles, and always try to support feminist initiatives in my city and my country. I’m also curious about politics and political theory, love reading, watching movies, attending galleries. I’ve always found it frustrating how women’s voices get ignored or stolen and I’m grateful to MoM for an opportunity to discover and share the lives and ideas of great female sociologists.

Coming in January 2023…

MoM welcomes Laura Gabrielle from Portland, Oregon. Laura is a graduate student in museum studies. She enjoys attending music and art events, discovering new cafes, or spending time at home with books and films. She especially loves historical dramas with good costume design! Being in the Pacific Northwest, she appreciates living in close proximity to the coast, mountains, and rivers for outdoor activities. Her research project will be dedicated to the erased history of women’s input in sociology and social theory starting with 19th century. As a research assistant, Laura will help create content for a booklet that will be incorporated within a 4-week class at Museum of Motherhood.

That’s it for now. Have a busy and blessed November – We’ll see you soon!