MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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MAMA: Issue 42 BLM, COVID, Afrooist, and A Body Other Than My Own

Sunshine Negyesi alias Afrooist
“This is a time of grieving but also a time of great change. Covid and the emergence of the BLM movement, served as a reminder that anything is possible. Never in a million years could we have predicted such unprecedented change. So as I watch the old structures crumble I am  reminded this is a period of infinite possibilities. The question now, is what world, what legacy, what vision I would I like to plant for the next generation.”

MAMA ISSUE 42 BLM

The most recent work of London based artist Afrooist, is a candid investigation into generational trauma. Her work reflects a personal journey of inquiry into her own family history, addressing the traumas which were entangled with the legacy of Colonialism .

Her work is fragmentary, working from big things which are edited down through various processes. These fragments relate to a bigger unseen picture, a remnant of something which has happened. Her art is the product of a performance where the unseen act of making is testified by her pieces.

She works across different media, ranging from live performances, painting and sculpture- using the poetry of hammering, beating, pulling, teasing and breaking, to express how her life has been lived and soaked in contrast. Her earlier works try to understand her black identity as it has been interpreted by society embracing the conflict revealed within the final pieces reflect the beautiful ugly of existence, that which is both attractive and repulsive, disquieting and squeamish, setting the viewer in an entanglement of something mucky, gritty yet sublime.

More about Afrooist
Born in London 1983 , Afrooist was raised in a biracial family in Tooting, South London. Her mother is Filipino and father from Guyana . She studied classical studies at Warwick University ( 2005 ) and trained as an early years teacher at Greenwich University ( 2016 ). Artist and singer, she began as a self taught painter, and developed the ability to deconstruct and reflect on her practice whilst studying Fine arts at City Lit London (2018). During the Summer of 2019 Afrooist made her debut solo exhibition at The Ritzy Brixton which included a live art performance ritual framed around a character she named Black Persephone in musical collaboration with Tanc Newbury and Siemy Di.  A mother of 2 children, she strives to be the change she wants to see in the world. She is Co-founder with Dirish Shaktidas of a project called Futureseeds and is currently residing in South West London.

MAMA Essay: A Body Other Than My Own

by Wendy Carolina Franco, PhD

(She Her Hers)

*This essay talks about the video of the murder of George Floyd.

When the day’s headlines about Covid-19’s devastating impact on the Black community were replaced with images of Black youth screaming next to burning cars, I reacted with fear. I was in full support of the protests but scared for the protestors. My 13-year-old twin sons felt that watching the video of George Floyd’s death was necessary for me to understand the rage in the streets. P said, “If you don’t see how he was killed, you are being a coward.” I replied that decades of seeing black people suffer changed nothing and only normalized seeing black bodies being abused. They chewed on that for a minute. My teenagers have plenty of complaints about me, but they respect my opinions on social and political issues. 

I am a Dominican woman with a history of serial migration, meaning that my mother immigrated first, we reunited when I was twelve, and one year later, she was imprisoned for eight years for a drug-related crime a white person would have barely done time for and was later deported. I grew up alone in New York City, dropped out of school. I eventually earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Now I specialize in trauma, counseling mostly minoritized people. 

“Look,” I told the boys, “watching someone being murdered can be traumatizing to the viewer, and for young people of color, like you, it is particularly harmful to witness racially motivated violence.” Such videos reduce a person’s life to the day they were murdered, I argued. I suggested they focus instead on studying the origins of systemic racism, and—this part is really painful as a mother–on learning how to behave to stay safe. P and F told me they had seen many people of color die, and that their bubble of racially diverse kids had also seen all the viral videos. F said: “I don’t know if it’s good or bad for me to watch these videos, but this is the worst one I have ever seen.”

Still trying to protect my mental health, I asked them to describe it to me. I don’t know about all twins, but my boys talk at the same time and always contradict each other–it’s infuriating. This time, there were zero contradictions. P noted that the police and Mr. Floyd looked so calm that he thought it was fake, then he suddenly got scared for George Floyd. F spoke of moments he thought someone was going to intervene but were stopped.  They both described a slow realization that no one was going to help. The killer stayed on top of Mr. Floyd long after his body had gone limp. P concluded that if the officer had just gotten up, Mr. Floyd would have lived. 

My face awash in tears, I had a knot in my throat. Avoiding the specifics had been a way of distancing myself from George Floyd’s murder. I still think that watching black people die is traumatizing for Black people and desensitizes non-Black people to their suffering. But the reality is that children are watching. 

After my sons brought Mr. Floyd’s death to life, I looked for photos of him. A beautiful vibrant

trio in a park summer outing came up. Wow, he was so tall and serious. He looked like a guy who kept his word. That little girl in his arms must have felt like God himself was carrying her. There was enough arm and chest for her to kick back and watch the world from up high. His partner was beaming, enjoying the circle they had created. It looked like a magnetic field, impenetrable and safe.

I decided to watch the video, once. 

From watching the video of George Floyd’s death I learned that he was a survivor. Even in the most frightening and compromised state, Mr. Floyd had the wherewithal to control the instincts we all have. He did not fight, or attempt to run, or freeze. These responses to danger come from the most ancient parts of our brain. He mustered the focus to try to de-escalate the situation by reminding the man intent on taking his life that they are both human. 

George Floyd said he was in pain, that he couldn’t breathe, communicating that he is human and like all of us will die without oxygen. He tried to calm the officers’ fears. He said he would comply with orders. He tried to adjust his body. He called out “Momma.” This dying man claimed his personhood by calling for his mother. He had profound attachments and a mother who loved him, and there is nothing more human than that. I don’t need to know how Mr. Floyd lived his life. The video of his murder showed his fighting spirit, his focus on surviving for his family, his humility, his dignity. He did not give up, but clearly understood what he was up against.

F knows what it’s like to not be able to breathe. He had pneumonia when he was eleven years old, and a young white doctor refused to take his complaints of difficulty breathing seriously. She said his lungs were clear and sent us home twice. I called my dentist, an old school Peruvian MD, who said, “GET OFF THE PHONE AND CALL 911.” My son was too weak to walk. He was rushed to the ICU where he remained for a whole week. They told me that he would have been dead in one day.  

For the local protest, F made a sign that said, “I CAN’T BREATHE.”  I was flooded with sadness. He was not copying the rallying cry this sentence has become, he does not know how Eric Garner died, and he was not thinking of the countless COVID-19 patients who suffocated to death, or of the air pollution our way of living creates. As much as he understands, he has no idea.

The pain of Black people only seems to bring about more pain. The Brooklyn protests we went to were completely peaceful and about 50% white, but Black and Brown protesters risk a lot more. They will be arrested and penalized more harshly than their white counterparts. Protesting also poses uneven health risks. Clueless celebrities and people who do not understand systemic racism claimed the coronavirus would be the ‘great equalizer’; instead we learned that racial privilege extends to levels of exposure to the virus and the body’s ability to fight the illness. The data on mortality shows that Black people die at three times the rate of white peers. Why do we accept so much black death?

Being the target of injustice creates a double bind, or a lose/lose situation. If you do nothing,

you suffer psychologically and emotionally, and if you fight back you risk further harm. Yet, I have to be hopeful. I see solidarity for Black people and a focus on action. I too come from pain. I can relate with feeling invisible, unimportant, and forgotten. But I will never know what is like to live in a body other than my own.

We naively think that our shared humanity is enough to experience empathy, but it isn’t, because of antiblack racism. We live in a society that assigns value to people’s lives depending on their identity. In this case, we have seen the repeated dehumanization and abuse of Black bodies, and for generations, we have labored to rationalize a world wherein skin color, gender and sexual identity, religion, place of birth and physical ability are risk factors for suffering and death. The human brain will distort reality to protect us from the idea that bad things happen to good people. As an example, victims of abuse, even in the most extreme cases, find ways to blame themselves. On a psychological level, having provoked the abuse preferable to the idea that something out of your control, like your body, can make you a target of violence. We make sense of systemic oppression by blaming the victims.

To undo lifetimes of mind-bending justifications of a racist system, we need action. Laws force people to adjust their belief systems. But we can go further and explore the barriers that keep us from seeing ourselves and our loved ones in the faces of Black victims of racist violence. Those barriers are constructs like “us and them or good and bad,” that keep us focused on our own suffering and desensitize us to the pain of others.

The Museum of Motherhood, the ProCreate Project, the Mom Egg Review, and the Mother Magazine are pleased to announce the launch of a monthly 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#JoinMAMA @ProcreateProj  @MOMmuseum @TheMomEgg

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Stay At Home – MAM, a New Art Magazine Focused on the Maternal

MAM Press Release

MAM is a new art magazine focusing on artists from around the world producing work about the maternal.

The first issue, “Stay At Home”, due out in June 2020 is a response by 20 artists to their experiences of working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The magazine aims to support artists through this challenging time as well as raising money for Women’s Aid*.

“Stay At Home” has been edited by Helen Sargeant, an artist and academic based in Todmorden, Yorkshire, UK.

Contributions include paintings by Shani Rhys James and Jessica Timmis, collage work by Lauren McLaughlin, an interview with Paula Chambers who makes installations and sculptures about disrupted domesticity, a series of self-portraits, “PRONIA” by performance artist Nicola Hunter, “Knitted Houses of Crime” by Freddie Robins and exquisite paper-cuttings of matriarchs by Pippa Dyrlaga.

“Stay At Home” is a response to the pandemic, the interruption, and anxiety that each day we are all having to live with. MAM was born initially as a way to distract me from looking too often at the news and becoming depressed, a way to be creative, collaborate, communicate and engage with other artists and mothers during this crisis. MAM’s wish is that this first issue of the magazine will provide its readers with a small moment of joy during this international crisis. MAM: Stay At Home, has been produced at the kitchen table in-between the on-going drama of daily family life, the caring and coaxing of children to do their schoolwork, the cuddling of cats, cooking, clearing up and feeding the washing machine with yet more laundry.”

MAM Editor – Helen Sargeant

* We have chosen to support Women’s Aid as domestic violence has risen by 50 percent in the UK since the lockdown began.

www.maternalart.com ( to be launched June 27, 2020)

instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/maternalart/
facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/maternalarthome

Helen Sargeant editor of Maternal Art Magazine introduces the art work of Rachel Fallon

Rachel Fallon – The MotherHood 2015

I first encountered Rachel Fallon’s work through the Desperate Art Wives Collective. I was immediately drawn to her works about female identity, confinement and the domestic such as Built in Kitchen 2012, which holds such resonance now during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rachel is a dear friend of mine and we have been lucky enough to have worked together on many art projects such as The Egg The Womb, The Head and The Moon (2013-2014), Project Afterbirth (2015), Artist As Mother As Artist (2016) and MAM: Stay At Home (2020).

At first, I exchanged slug mail with Rachel, which included drawings and stories of our lives before we became mothers. I was enthralled by the letters that I received and of Rachels accounts of working for a traveling circus across Europe and then living as an artist in Berlin.

It is however her intelligent, personal, political, and thought-provoking art work that continues to act as a catalyst for our communications.

About

Rachel Fallon is a visual artist who deals with themes of protection and defense in domestic realms and addresses the topic of motherhood and womens’ relationships to society. More recently her work has begun to focus on reverse parenting, examining the correlation of roles and duties in elder and parental care and the complex landscapes of mothering.

Built-in-kitchen 2012

Her work encompasses sculpture, drawing, photography and performance and is firmly rooted in processes of making. As well as an individual practice, she is known for her collaborations with Irish and international artists and collectives; including Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, Desperate Artwives, Grrrl Zine Fair and The Tellurometer Project.

La Befana – performance- 2016

The two disparate ways of working feed into one another and are therefore equally important parts of her practice. She is a founding member of pff Publications – a feminist zine and Outpost Studios an independent artist-led studio. Her work is held in public and private collections including the Collection of the Arts Council of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, the Wellcome Collection, U.K.and Goldsmiths Womens’Art Library, U.K.

Selected Images:

  1. Aprons of Power Performance – ACREA – Repeal 2018 (Homepage, featured image and below)
  2. The MotherHood 2015
  3. Built-in-kitchen 2012
  4. La Befana – performance 2016
Rachel Fallon and MAM with Helen Sargent

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Interview Opportunity/Play About Birth & CFP JourMS

Lillian Isabella

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY:

Lillian Isabella is an award-winning documentary theatre maker. She’s looking to interview at least 100 different people with all different kinds of pregnancy and birth stories throughout the Summer of 2020.

If you have been pregnant, are pregnant, or have given birth (of all ages), as well as the people who support pregnancy including doulas, doctors, midwives, acupuncturists (who help pregnant women), she’d love to speak with you for a new documentary play she’s developing!

The narrative of the play will be formed by the people she talks to and she’d like to get a wide snapshot of the state of pregnancy and birth in the United States and how it compares to abroad.

Her first documentary play was commissioned by the Metropolitan Playhouse and was about the legendary Jonas Mekas. Her second docu play, How We Love/F*ck, celebrated female sexuality and had its world premiere at Cherry Lane Theatre.

If you or anyone you know might be interested in speaking with Lillian, please send her an email at Lillian@LillianIsabella.com. More about Lillian, here: www.lillianisabella.com.

CFP JourMS

CRAFTING COVID: Embodying Disobedience, Calls to Action & Motherhood at the End of the World /Submissions through June 30, 2020

How have our lives changed in 2020? How are they the same? Is feminism taking a back seat as mothers turn to homeschooling, as salaries fade, hardship and isolation fray nerves, and as illness coupled with civil disobedience take shape on the streets?

Let these writings serve as a site of resistance as we practice the ongoing labor of birthing, art-making, scholarship, caregiving, salary-making, and survival in the time of COVID. Let us offer hope, support, and empowerment through knowledge, education, and shared experiences.

This special edition of the Journal of Mother Studies seeks to elucidate the experiences of families from an interdisciplinary perspective.

We have already received multiple submissions on a variety of topics from those conducting research, making home-site projects, working in hospital or alternative birth settings, as well as auto-ethnographic perspectives. Submissions are open on a rolling basis to all, through the month of June 2020.

JourMS submissions are peer-reviewed and the journal is published annually on September 1 each year online.

The Editorial Collective of the Journal of Mother Studies invites submissions of scholarly articles and essays from the Interdisciplinary Humanities as defined by the arts, history, culture, the social sciences, women’s and gender studies, literary studies, anthropology, the folkloric, psychology, the digital humanities, and media studies. We encourage dialogue between varying fields and welcome feminist critiques of race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, technology, media, public health, and nation. The Journal also features book reviews about newly penned and forthcoming works.

Please submit abstracts electronically. We will then contact you and ask you to submit a full MS Word attachments article via e-mail: JourMS@gmail.com 

  1. All work should be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, in 12-point Times font
  2. Scholarly essays should be 5-18 pages double-spaced. Reviews should be approximately 500 words (we are flexible).
  3. JourMS is interdisciplinary, therefore, writers can follow either APA or MLA format (depending on your discipline). Double-space all text, on 8 1/2 X 11-inch paper, using Times New Roman. American spelling.
  4. All manuscripts must be submitted with a cover document:
  5. Include a page with author’s name, address, email, phone number, brief bio, affiliation, & recent publications
  6. A 250-word abstract
  7. You are welcome to submit original art, or photographic images along with your manuscript; please ensure that you have (or will) proper permissions. Additionally, we will accept alternative formats such as PowerPoint, video, audio, and visual presentations.
  8. We will send you an acknowledgment of receipt once your submission is processed. The Editorial Board reviews all submissions before sending them out for external, anonymous peer review.  We may provide reader comments, and ask you to revise and resubmit your work.
  9. Please submit a final manuscript in Word Document to JourMS@gmail.com
  10. Seeking additional editorial board members as well for this year’s edition

Please circulate widely! PDF is here for sharing: JourMS_CFP_2020

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Mothers’ Day 2020 in Virtual Reality

Lately, it seems, there are so few words to describe our current world. Mother earth is in shock even as mothers across America celebrate this holiday made virtual. So many of us cannot spend the day with our adult children due to social distancing while other families are overwhelmed with responsibilities, hunger, homeschooling, exhaustion, health, and a host of issues.

So, what do do?

Sometimes, in the quiet, we find hope for a new day. Here at MOM, our prayers, light, and love shine through even though we too have been largely silent. If you would like to register a mother you love on our Tribute Wall you can do so here at this link (by making a small donation to MOM. Happy Mothers’ Day and please do stay safe, healthy, and blessed!

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Joy Rose and Mom International Mothers’ Day Shrine

Mothers’ Day was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia (now the International Mothers’ Day Shrine). In 2014, I had the great honor of speaking at the 100 year anniversary of the creation of the shrine and commemoration of the official holiday with my mother in attendance. Items and ephemera from that occasion are currently housed in the MOM Art Annex in St. Petersburg, Florida.

~ Martha Joy Rose

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Childless By Choice?

Written by Annika Tornatore (Edited by M. Joy Rose)

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, American mothers are challenged to balance work struggles and their home lives with increasing levels of stress. At the same time, cultural messaging about parenthood often glorifies motherhood and does not reflect the inherent conflicts between the personal and professional. Some studies show that young women are questioning whether motherhood is something to aspire to. In this blog post, I question whether having children leads to more happy and successful outcomes? I do this by sharing the perspectives of young women who are intent on changing contemporary narratives about childlessness by consciously choosing not to procreate.

Motherhood presents fresh challenges for every parent. Those challenges can include but are not limited to, increased financial burdens, new time constraints, and balancing work outside the home with childrearing duties. “The biggest issue for working mothers is the idea that they must be available around the clock both at home and the office” (Ferrante, Mary Beth). Unrealistic expectations chip away at maternal confidence as new mothers can be forced to confront impossible choices- work more or spend more time with the baby.

In addition to juggling multiple responsibilities, new mothers are confronted with dominant narratives that over-glorify motherhood. In the media, in subtle conversations, and in public discourse, impossible expectations can take a toll on women’s self-esteem: “Whether it’s a pregnant character on a TV show or a photo spread heralding a celebrity’s rapid recovery of her pre-pregnancy physique, media portrayals of pregnant and postpartum women tend to be unrealistic.” (“Media Portrayals of Pregnant Women, New Moms Unrealistic.”). These cultural imperatives are rarely achievable, resulting in negative emotions including depression and anxiety. A shift on behalf of media portrayals of perfect motherhood might lead to a more balanced perspective on pregnancy and post-natal realities. Perhaps mothers might experience less stress and more confidence?

Lastly, I would like to share two perspectives from women who are childless by choice. A Time Magazine article titled “Why I have Zero Regrets About My Childless Life,” by Stephanie Zacharek, chronicles her inability to conceive children. She has come to believe that she was okay without having kids. Stephanie writes, “My job these days, as a movie critic-is immensely satisfying, but it’s that much more so because of the freedom I have.” Her decision to accept childlessness has brought her unexpected happiness. It gave her a chance to explore what she was capable of without worrying about taking care of children. Additionally, the website, Cup of Joe recently published stories about women who determined motherhood was not for them. Wudan, a first-generation American, felt intense familial pressure to start a family. She shares her revelations: “I got to a point where I realized that having kids would throw my career for a curve. I’m a journalist who travels all the time, and I truly love my job.” Wudan was motivated to keep moving her career forwards. She determined that having children would cause her to expend energy on other things, and not on her career (Miller, Kelly).

I think it takes a lot of courage and strength for women to go against the norms of becoming a mother. My mother worked two jobs to help pay the bills. I have seen the struggle my mom endured to make sure that I have thrived. Women who decide to go against the norms should know that they can have successful lives without children. This may not be something people think about, but it is an option and it may well indeed lead some to personal happiness.

About Annika:

Hi everyone! My name is Annika Tornatore. I am a Biomedical Sciences major at the University of South Florida. After attending USF, my next goal in life will be to attend medical school. I aim to be an Anesthesiologist or a Pathologist. Although medicine interested in me for a short period, my passion for science and learning will carry me to encounter new discoveries. Besides medicine, I am an avid bookworm. Some of my favorite books tend to focus on a mixture of fantasy and science fiction. Dance and music are some of my other favorite hobbies. Dance has been a consistent passion and shaped me who I am. My favorite styles of dance are hip hop and tap. Furthermore, I aspire to travel the world. I yearn to explore and experience various cultures. I desire to learn from the people around me and hope to implement what I learn in my life.

I came in contact with the Museum of Motherhood, MOM, through an honors class at the university. This class pertains to the issues that arise infertility, motherhood, and reproductive justice. One of the aspects of this class was to partake in a Service Learning Project. This ranged from assisting in research to volunteering to writing blogs. For my service-learning, I chose an internship with the Museum of Motherhood. MOM has several goals that align with what I hope to do. The Museum of Motherhood aims to spread its messages about motherhood and family through art exhibits and blogs. I hope that through this internship, I could also attain some of their goals and spread their mission.

Work Cited:

Ferrante, Mary Beth. “The Pressure Is Real For Working Mothers.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Aug. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/marybethferrante/2018/08/27/the-pressure-is-real-for-working-mothers/#40090a582b8f.

“Media Portrayals of Pregnant Women, New Moms Unrealistic.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 7 Aug. 2017, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170807152604.htm.

Miller, Kelsey. “8 Women on Choosing Not to Have Kids.” A Cup of Jo, 18 Dec. 2018, cupofjo.com/2018/12/childless-by-choice/.

“Mothers Are Drowning in Stress.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 6 Mar. 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shouldstorm/201903/mothers-are-drowning-in-stress?amp.

Zacharek, Stephanie. “Why I Have Zero Regrets About My Childless Life.” Time, Time, 3 Jan. 2019, time.com/5492622/stephanie-zacharek-childless-life/.

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When Pandemonium Hits – Caregivers Unite!

When pandemonium hits, caregivers unite!

When families have to hunker down and stay put with their kids out of school, community contacts are restricted, and the workplace is disrupted, we must do everything within our power to stay positive.

When healthcare concerns trump everyday freedoms, each of us must look to the future and how we can make things better.

When Kimberly Seals writes an article for a widely-read publication about the often difficult and unpaid labor of caregivers, I pay attention.

Her recent article for #WomensHistoryMonth is online at the #WashingtonPost here.

I feel grateful to have contributed to this piece.

I feel grateful to you for reading it.

I feel grateful to live in her world (and yours).

I feel grateful to #teach #MotherStudies.

While you are spending more time social distancing, may you and your loved ones have food, may you and your loved ones have shelter, may you and your loved ones be well, may you keep the light of love inside you.

With Great Affection,

Martha Joy Rose

Get woke. Or, at least, well read: For your personal reading list, or if you’re in a book club, Rose suggests including titles that examine motherhood in a historical, racial or cultural context. She specifically recommends “Motherhood and Feminism” by Amber Kinser; “Reproducing Race” by Khiara M. Bridges; “Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Hill Collins; and “The Price of Motherhood” by Crittenden. Take a six-week class with the Museum of Motherhood, or attend an online event this month. KSA

Kimberly Seals Allers and Martha Joy Rose at the Annual Academic MOM Conference in NYC