JJ Lee – Featured Artist Pandemic Parenting Online Exhibit

The Pandemic Parenting Exhibit is curated by Rachael Grad as part of her Remote Residency with MoM. Each week during the month of August, Rachael interviews and collects information about four outstanding mother artists and their practices. Then, her interviews will appear here and also link to the exhibit page online.

“My work as a professor is to challenge the status quo and show that there are different ways to be an artist.” ~ JJ Lee

RG: What is your current focus?

JL: I have an upcoming exhibition next June through August in a Halifax Museum. I went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to clear out my parents’ house and found all kinds of things. I started drawing based on these discoveries and proposed a show to the Museum. I was going back and forth to Halifax while my mom was sick. My recent work is about losing my mom and ancestry. The drawings of my mom were emotional and healing.

RG: How does being a mother impact your work?

JL: My 15-year-old non-binary child Mei came to Halifax during one trip while I was taking care of my dad. Mei was a comfort to me. The death of my mom and Chinese funeral rituals were a learning experience. I brought my dad back to Toronto to live. I have 4 siblings and am the youngest. The past few years during the pandemic have been an incredible amount of caretaking a child and my parents: first my mom and then my dad. Caretaking takes up an incredible amount of time and energy.

RG: How did this parent caregiving come into your art?

JL: Caregiving changed my work, making and understanding. I started drawing on paper from my grandfather’s laundry that I found in my parents’ house. For a while I couldn’t do work on my mom so I did work about my grandfather. It’s difficult to capture my mom and her essence from photos. I started drawing on the found paper. Physical impressions of my mom’s writing in Chinese letters started coming through the paper. Intergenerational trauma is passed through DNA. I feel that that this show is not my show. For 30 years, the art was mine but not this new work. I am making drawings of my mom on laundry paper, my mom sewing in a shrine, and my grandmother and her friend. My recent work is about matriarchy and Chinese culture. My grandmother ran the house. There is a tradition in Chinese culture of the eldest son and his wife moving in and taking care of the son’s parents. I used to have a different impression of my grandmother then later learnt from family that she had had difficult life.

RG: How did your work change when you became a mother?

JL: My work changed when my baby was born but became more interesting when I started collaboratively working with Mei. My child taught me a lot including forcing me to face my own biases about art. Mei draws freely in her mark-making and stories.

RG: How do you balance creating, parenting, and teaching?

JL: My first exhibition with Mei was when Mei was 7 years old. My next exhibition didn’t include Mei and Mei wasn’t happy about it! At the time I was the Chair of First Year Painting and Drawing at OCAD University with a tenure track job. We realized later that Mei is hard of hearing and is autistic, so the show was about non-verbal communication. I was drawing on tags that represent labels about being autistic, Chinese, Canadian, and others. Then Mei ripped up my drawings into tiny pieces. I felt upset, violated, and destroyed but then Mei and I made a collaborative work out of putting the pieces together.

RG: Do you still collaborate with Mei now that she’s a teenager?

JL: Mei no longer wants to collaborate or get feedback on her art from me. Mei is part of the new digital generation.

RG: Are you collaborating in other ways?

JL: My work expanded through collaboration with dance-choreographer sister and The Drawing Board. In The Drawing Board collective with Natalie Waldburger and Amy Swartz, I lose individuality and have the freedom to make what I want. We can’t separate being moms and creatives. The Drawing Board formed because we didn’t have time to make our own work. The art practice responds to what’s happening through our lives. My work as a professor is to challenge the status quo and show that there are different ways to be an artist.

MoM: Letter from the Founder – Joy Report

We’ve got our plan of action: MoM needs to focus on FINANCIALS moving forward.

OUR ACTION ITEM: It’s all about the money! Throughout the years, many teams and individuals have helped to develop the MoM vision; its mission, its programs, and its outreach. I have strived to do my best, bringing this into the world because of a deep personal commitment to mothers everywhere – the labor they perform, their experiences, their hearts and a passion for the artistic and academic study of mothers and m/otherhood. 

I moved MoM from New York City to St. Petersburg with the intention of seeing it grow and thrive after we were unable to secure a next-level space in Manhattan. Now that I have the flexibility to focus on this project full-time, I plan to solidify relationships in St. Petersburg while cultivating my personal live/work space which is now the non-profit MoM Art Annex. 

The Annex serves as an incubator project for making the MoM vision to come alive in Florida. In order to do this, attention needs to shift. To that end, the next year will be almost exclusively focused on building our coffers through memberships, donations, grants, and partnerships. We must do this if MoM is going to thrive. Please join me in this affirmation and keep this top of mind and action! This is how we put M/otherhood on the Map. Please HELP US TRIVE! Join one of our many initiatives.

It’s Not Like We’re Slackers – It’s Been a Busy Summer!

Pictured here, summer interns Sarah Akomoh and Teddy Friedline

Intern, Mary Noah. BIG shout out for her work with MoM this summer. She has reconfigured our Wisdom Sharing Document and is finishing up our Grant Sharing Document. In addition, the website has been updated with all our new information as well as our work together honing in on ‘mission‘ etc. I believe the work is well-reflected on the site! Lastly, she leaves us with new logos and a Social Media Campaign in place. Her diligence has greatly improved our infrastructure in Florida, picking up where our New York interns left off six years ago! THANK YOU MARY!

Intern, Sarah Akomoh contributed to our Grants Database and we will be submitting to the Pinellas Foundation this week. Sarah also got MoM listed here at Florida Arts Axis  THANK YOU SARAH!

Intern, Teddy Friedline has been reworking language on the JourMS site as well as the SocMS site. This has enabled appropriate updates since the project was created in 2015. Teddy will be wrapping up a social media campaign about these initiatives with us in the coming weeks. THANK YOU TEDDY!

Intern, Emma Andrews has been working on a book project for Queering Parenting. She is endeavoring to create materials that will facilitate both a child’s perspective on identity as well as adult’s perspectives. Her presentation will be available online and she will present her work on August 22nd in our Online Community Portal 7-8:30PM EST. JOIN US IF YOU CAN!

Intern, Rithik Promod begins delivering his Fertility Goddess exhibit this week. We are LOOKING FORWARD!

We hosted 4 onsite Residencies this summer at the MoM Art Annex ranging from fine arts, to print making, to writing. SHOUT OUT TO: Jessica Caldez, Tara Blackwell, Gloria Munoz, and Rachael Grad.

Elena Rodz – Website Manager, has been so impactful, helping to redesign, upgrade, and empower our website infrastructure. Her work with us is ongoing, her expertise is in the museum and non-profit marketplace, and we are all better for her involvement! THANK YOU ELENA!

Deborah Gelch – Strategic Advisor and I continue to iron out technical details of our new infrastructure modalities including Salesforce, Constant Contact, and Quickbooks integration. We are poised for memberships and tweaking the design elements. On October 21, we collaboratively host our first community cocktail event on behalf of MoM in St. Petersburg. YAY DEBORAH!

Nicole Mussleman- JourMS Editor, has been hard at work on the editorial aspects of the Journal of Mother Studies. We have more submissions than ever before and are still planning on our September 1 online publication date. Nicole also won the very prestigious award at the Hemingway Society Conference 2022. YAY NICOLE!

I will be submitting recommendations to Tracy Sidesinger, Residency Coordinator; and Zabrina Shkurti, Living Board President this week, looking at ways we might maximize MoM’s mission with existing programs. Kasia Nowaski and I will be re-connecting in September over online course development.

More to come.

Keep Swimming,

Martha JOY Rose

Pandemic Parenting and Mothers Making Art

Collaborating and Carving Out Space for Art

In Rachael’s Words: Moms Making Art During Challenges

When I became a mom for the first time, I started a daily drawing project. I picked one break a day in between hourly nursing my newborn, when instead of showering, cleaning, preparing food, or heaven forbid resting, I drew. I kept pencil and paper easily accessible and ready to use. With each child during the difficult first years, I went back to daily drawing or painting when possible. Often I would draw or paint a child’s favourite stuffed animal every day for months. Fewer decisions about subject matter and materials smoothed the path to making art. Instead of thinking, I would just focus on the capturing the toy in a silly pose or the light falling that day on the stuffed animal.

In times of crisis, like the first COVID-related pandemic lockdown in March 2020, I return to this reassuring art practice. Daily drawing projects for me are part art therapy and part art routine.  I can’t pretend that these daily drawings and paintings are my best artwork. But at least during difficult times, I found a way to keep creating art.

This is not original or innovative. The daily drawing project idea has been around for ages. I came across the suggestion while researching how women manage to have a studio practice with children, work, and other responsibilities. When I became pregnant for the first time, I started obsessively researching how mothers manage to also be artists. I wanted to know how productive, often prolific, parent artists were able to thrive with young children.

Below are some of my top books and resources that I repeatedly return to when I need encouragement and inspiration. I also explain why they continue to serve as guidance and motivation and how that theme will be featured in the upcoming MOM online art exhibition. Rachael Grad, 2022.

The M Word; Real Mothers in Contemporary Art edited by Muriel Chernick and Jennie Klein. Bradford: Demeter Press, 2004 [Click to Read More]

The anthology includes interviews, essays, and images of visual art and exhibitions of mother artists. Feminist theory and maternal creativity are addressed in these excerpts. The book also contains colour images of artwork and poetry on motherhood. The book begins with an interview with Mary Kelly reflecting on after Post-Partum Document 30 years after it was made. The second interview is with Kelly and her son Kelly Barrie (MutualArt. Accessed 30 July 2022). Kelly Barrie is also an artist and had responded to his mother’s series of work in which he was a collaborator when he was a child. This work was shown together in the 2008 Sydney Biennial  (16th Biennale of Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), 18 June – 7 Sep. 2008. https://www.mca.com.au/artists-works/exhibitions/16th-biennale-of-sydney/. Accessed 30 July 2022.)

The first two interviews of Kelly and her son immediately captured my attention. I then discovered new writers and artists like Monica Bock and Maternal Exposure (or, don’t forget the lunches) (1999-2000) in this anthology. As a mother, I’m always considering how the work I make may impact my children in future. If I collaborate with them as children, how will they feel about the work as adults? How will my young kids react to my artwork about them when they grow up? Several essays in the book address this topic from mothers’ and children’s points of view. Kelly Barrie, Tanya Llewelyn, and the other people in the book who had collaborated with their mothers as children positively describe their experiences and became artists themselves. Participating in their mothers’ artwork revealed aspects of their childhood to the public, however, they were not shown nude, as Sally Mann’s often photographed her children (Mann, Sally, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs. Little Brown and Company, 2016.)

Uninvited; Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment by Sarah Milroy and A.C Dejardin. Vancouver: Publishers Group West, 2021 [Click to Read More]

The catalogue for an exhibition with 200 artworks of Canadian women artists from across the country who were contemporaries to the Group of Seven male painters. The exhibition also includes the textiles and beadwork of indigenous women throughout the show. Some of the female artists were immigrants to Canada and many paintings depict city scenes and portraits of indigenous people and immigrants.

The moving essay by Christi Belcourt describes the indigenous perspective of traditional heirlooms like tikinaganen, the Anishinaabemowin word for “cradleboards,” meant to carry babies, yet on view in museums (103, 294). The catalogue contains women’s personal stories of hardship, sacrifice, and obscurity. I had never heard of any of these female artists until I saw the exhibition in person at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection last year (Uninvited; Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment https://mcmichael.com/event/uninvited/).

The women’s artwork is just as impressive their male contemporaries, even though their careers were sidelined in favor of their husbands, such Bess Harris, wife of Lawren Harris, and Regina Seiden Goldberg, who gave up her career to support her painter husband (110). I am fortunate in not having to agive up my work for that of anyone else and this show is a reminder to keep making art even with no recognition or reception. 

Meet the Newest Artist Resident at MoM: Gloria Munoz

We are excited to announce our newest Guest Artist in Residence, Gloria Muñoz! During her residency, Gloria hopes to focus on developing her novel which is set in 1940s Colombia during the period known as La Violencia. With elements of fabulism, historical fiction, and eco-poetics, the story of two sisters who are displaced by violence and left to fend for themselves is a testament to how we can experience wonder, and even magic, after loss.

Continue reading to find out more about Gloria.

Gloria Muñoz is a Colombian-American writer, literary translator, and advocate for multilingual literacy and writing. She was awarded the Academy of American Poets 2019 Ambroggio Prize and the Gold Medal Florida Book Award. She has also been honored by the Highlights Foundation’s 2022 Diverse Verse Fellowship, the Macondo Workshop, Lumina’s Multilingual Nonfiction Writing Award, a Las Musas Mentorship for Latine and nonbinary authors, a New York State Summer Writers Institute Fellowship, a St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Muse Award, a Creative Pinellas Grant, the Estelle J. Zbar Poetry Prize, the Bettye Newman Poetry Award, a Gen Yes Doris Duke Foundation Artist Award, a Think Small to Think Big Artist Grant, and a St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Jim Rolston Professional Development Grant. Gloria was part of the inaugural Tin House YA workshop and has presented her writing, research, and advocacy work at conferences, colleges, public schools, and book festivals across the United States and Latin America. Her writing has appeared in Puerto del Sol, VIDA Review, Acentos Review, Lumina, the Rumpus, Yes Poetry, Juke Joint, Best New Poets, Sweet, Burrow Press, Cosmonauts Avenue, Entropy, Wildness, Cagibi, and elsewhere. Muñoz is also the author of the chapbook Your Biome Has Found You. She holds degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and the University of South Florida. A proponent of cross-disciplinary collaboration, Gloria has worked alongside botanists, musicians, dancers, historians, classicists, visual artists, conservationists, and neuroscientists. She is a co-founder of Pitch Her Productions and she is one-half of the songwriting team Moonlit Musíca. Most days she writes, teaches, and works with environmental nonprofits.


Also, Announcing This Week:

MoM is also pleased to announce, a conversation about the film, Adventures in Miscarriage with director Cheryl Furjanic, who presented her film trailer at the MoM Conference in 2022 – in person in St. Petersburg in March!

She received incredible feedback and has just launched a new version of the trailer and a summer fundraiser for the film. Here is the link. https://watch.showandtell.film/watch/adventures-in-miscarriage-summer-fundraiser

It will be up until July 31st. Then, on Wednesday, July 27th at 6:30pm ET, she will be hosting a conversation about the film and the current state of miscarriage care. Here’s the link for that: https://nyu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1xNcM1coSLmlMZAJCKXDlA

We are excited to support and view this important film which offers a perspective into this generally underreported experience!

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.”