MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center


Sociology Opens Our Eyes to New Ways of Seeing the World!

This summer, extreme weather rocks America and pundits debate while August arrives all too quickly. Since July 1st, accounting majors, economics majors, and students of literature have been increasing their knowledge and vocabulary about important issues that affect us all by studying sociology. These students are hard at work exploring theoretical assertions about race, class, and gender in an online summer intensive Introduction to Sociology course, specifically framed around the Sociology of Family.

Using texts that explore gestation, birth, and caregiving, authors Barbara Katz Rothman, Phyllis Chesler, Patricia Hill Collins, and Keisha Goode (to name a few), explore women’s experiences, racial disparities, and gendered labor. This week, we read the latest media stories on wombs, trans-birth, uterus transplants, and self-identified men as mothers. We have all been scrambling for new definitions and fresh ways of thinking about gestation as well as parenting.

As part of a service-learning portion of an Intro to Sociology class, students were asked to take a piece of construction paper or plain white paper and mark in bold words a minimum of 5 words that best describe “mother” and “father”. We have been complicating those basic notions ever since.

Thinking about the authors we are studying assert about biology and gender, coupled with recent medical and policy developments, motherhood is more complicated than ever! The students were invited to revisit their original posters and articulate some of the information that has influenced their perspective in recent weeks. Some of their notes are below:

Words Added:

–       Gender Neutral:

·      The readings from this week highlighted the problems associated with gendered parenting

·       Mothers struggle with work because of the perception that they are obligated to care for their home and children

·       Men do not feel obligated to do any parenting work but feel an overwhelming obligation to provide economically for their families

·      Both genders are equally capable of parenting in the form of motherhood and fatherhood

·      everyone including children would be better off if parental duties were split equally

·      All other words on the poster represent things my mother, grandparents, and stepfather did and that I wish my father had participated in

·      Not parenting is a personal choice not a gendered choice

–       Parent:

·      Added for reasons listed above

·      Parent should imply the same duties regardless of the parent’s gender


·      Being present is an essential part of parenthood that I did not think about until I watched “Glen Henry got his Superpowers Through Fatherhood”

–       Care:

·      “Mothering is most likely done by a female due to our society’s definition of the word ‘mother.’ The action of mothering however is simply caring for another.” [Castaneda and Oware]

–       Guide

–       Educate

·      Guide and educate were both terms I did not think to put until I though in the context of parenthood rather than motherhood

·      Gendered expectations affect us all and are very pervasive

Assertion Statement:

Replace motherhood and fatherhood with parenthood

• Tenderhearted
• Empathetic
• Compassionate
• Honest
• Supportive
• Sacrificing
• Wise
“A healthier masculinity can only be achieved if we acknowledge that “Tough” and “Strong” aren’t the only 2 characteristics men can be.”


PRESS RELEASE & Partnerships

September 2015
Project AfterBirth:
21st century pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood in art.

30 international artists. One ground breaking new exhibition.

The triumph of new motherhood. Stillbirth. Full-time fatherhood. Teenage parenthood. Miscarriage. Parenting in a warzone. Bilingual speech development. Post-natal depression.

These are just some of the themes behind the 39 international works showcased as part of Project AfterBirth; the first ever international exhibition on the subject of early parenthood, of which the world premiere will launch at White Moose gallery, North Devon, this October.

Each of the 39 works in the exhibition – which spans across the visual, performance, literary, film and digital arts – were made in the 21st century and represent personal pregnancy, birth and new parenthood experiences of 30 international contemporary male and female artists. Due to the lingering taboo status of parenthood in the contemporary art world and its perceived inferiority as a subject, most of the works have never been shown publicly before.

At times hilarious and at times deeply moving, the exhibition stands to leave a lasting impression on parents, but will also resonate with anyone in terms of their own individual birth and childhood journeys. The exhibition is also a first in demonstrating the profound influence pregnancy, birth and new parenthood experiences can have on the practice of 21st century female and male artists.

aura James Wray, Bound and Controlled, Project AfterBirth

Laura James Wray, Bound and Controlled

Project AfterBirth is the brainchild of Exeter based artist/curator duo Mila Oshin & Kris Jager (a.k.a. Joy Experiment) whose own early parenthood experiences informed their new body of work Passage , published/released this autumn as a poetry collection and music album.

Mila Oshin said:

“The contrast between the representation of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood in the media and our actual lived experiences is starker than ever before, and plays a big part in the increasing sense of isolation felt by 21st century parents. By seeking out and publicly displaying outstanding and highly personal contemporary works of art that reveal the many true faces of parenthood, we hope Project AfterBirth will make its mark in raising the profile of parenthood as we all really know it.

In spite of Project AfterBirth‘s tight parameters, an international open Call For Artists that took place this Spring resulted in more than 150 works from all over the world being submitted for consideration.

In addition to Mila Oshin and Kris Jager, Project AfterBirth’s exhibition’s selection panel members included Martha Joy Rose (Museum of Motherhood, New York, USA), Helen Knowles (Birth Rites Collection, Manchester, UK), Francesca Pinto (The Photographer’s Gallery, London, UK), and Stella Levy & Julie Gavin (White Moose, Devon, UK).

The Project AfterBirth exhibition premieres at White Moose gallery, North Devon, from 3rd October until 13th November 2015, with the aim to tour to a number of UK, European and USA art spaces and online platforms in 2016-19.

The 30 international artists that will exhibit work as part of Project AfterBirth are:
1. Alison O’Neill (UK)
2. Amanda West (USA)
3. Belinda Kochanowska (Australia)
4. Carole Evans (UK/Switzerland)
5. Chris Anthem (Lebanon/UK)
6. Clare Archibald (Scotland)
7. Courtney Kessel (USA)
8. Csilla Nagy (Hungary)
9. Danielle Hobbs (Australia)
10. Debbie Lee (UK)
11. Eti Wade (UK)
12. Geoffrey Harrison (UK)
13. Helen Sargeant (UK)
14. Hester Berry (UK)
15. Ione Rucquoi (UK)
16. Jana Kasalova (Czech Republic)
17. Jenny Lewis (UK)
18. Josie Beszant (UK)
19. Laura James Wray (UK/South Africa)
20. Lu Heintz (USA)
21. Madison Omahne (USA)
22. Magda Stawarska Beavan (UK/Poland)
23. Marilyn Kyle (UK)
24. Rachel Fallon (Ireland)
25. Rocio Saenz (Mexico)
26. Ruth Gray (UK)
27. Sasha Waters Freyer (USA)
28. Sarah Sudhoff (USA)
29. Tareg Morris (UK)
30. Trish Morrissey (UK/Ireland)

Exhibition: Project AfterBirth: 21st century visions on early parenthood

Gallery: White Moose
Dates: Sat 3 Oct 2015 – Fri 13 Nov 2015
Times: Tuesday – Saturday 11 am – 5 pm

Entry: FREE
Location: White Moose, Moose Hall, Trinity Street, Barnstaple EX32 8HX
T: 01271 379872, E:, W:

SPECIAL EVENTS: Artist talks, workshops and other activities aimed at various age groups are planned to take place throughout Project AfterBirth’s exhibition at White Moose this Autumn. Please click HERE for more details.

For all PRESS ENQUIRIES please email

Please LIKE Project AfterBirth on Facebook and/or follow the project on Twitter

For more information, please visit:


See also below: Invite to the opening for Hechal Shlomo Biennale, Sept. 30 in Jerusalem



Tango For Equal Rights

By, Jenny Nigro; social media intern for M.O.M.

M.O.M. social media intern Jenny Nigro

M.O.M. social media intern Jenny Nigro

I went to the library recently and took out an adorable book for the boy I nanny for. I’d read the book, And Tango Makes Three, before, but sharing it with him made it all the more special for me. The story is based on true events that took place several years ago at the Central Park Zoo. There, in the beloved penguin house, two male penguins began a years-long courtship and exhibited the nesting behaviors that are typical of expecting chinstrap penguin parents. Eventually, one of the zookeepers decided to give the couple their own egg to nurture and the penguins became the proud fathers to a fuzzy chick. They named her Tango because, as the book notes, “it takes two to make a Tango.” (Like I said, absolutely adorable).

No longer at the Central Park Zoo to visit, Tango’s daddies drifted apart over time and Tango was even said to have entered in a courtship with another female penguin. Their story (and subsequent book and play), though, has had a more lasting legacy – and has been the subject of much debate in family discourse. Some groups sought to ban the book immediately and protest the pairing of the penguins with their cherished little Tango egg. Others rallied around this model of parenting to assert that gay mating/parenting rituals do not defy the natural order.

The story of Tango’s dads shows us that different forms of courtship and parenting occur across nature, a phenomena which is also visible at the popular NYC Museum of Sex. MoSex, as it is shortened to, has devoted an entire exhibition to exploring the multi-faceted nature of animal sex and the “evolutionary benefits of non-reproductive sex for both individuals and social groups within the animal kingdom.” A recent visit to the museum led to my discovery of Tango’s story on display there. It turns out that our concepts of animal behavior, parenting instinct, and what it looks like to make a family have been overturned by one little chick.

With the nationwide legalization of gay marriage debate on-deck for the US Supreme Court, we will no doubt see more LGBTQ couples embark on their path to marriage and familyhood. So what can we expect for the family as we know it? Well, as research and public interest stories would indicate, most likely good things. A few years ago, a study that followed several children of lesbian couples over the span of two decades asserted that children of lesbians are psychologically better adjusted than their peers. And who can forget Zach Wahls’ touching appeal to the Iowa legislature to protect civil unions? Though little had been studied on children raised by two male parents, my sister recently did a scholarship review on studies that have looked at these models of parenting and they had similar findings: families with two daddies tend to have happy, well-adjusted kids.

So I look forward to seeing the next happy, well-adjusted generation of babies, both human and penguin, in a (hopefully) post-legalized marriage equality world. And maybe in this moment in history, it will take nine to make a tango…or at least a majority.


When Men Mother

Last week, I wrote about the so-called “Mommy Wars” — the stay-at-home mom vs. working mom clash — and profiled some very strong opinions on the matter (my own included). However, I see now that my approach was lacking a crucial voice. I failed to capture the perspective of a growing force on this scene: stay-at-home-dads. Big mistake, I realize.

One lazy Saturday a year or so ago, I decided to blow off cleaning my apartment by surfing Netflix. I happened upon a movie called What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Registering its name with the very popular parenting book that shares its title, I tuned in. It turned out to be one of those rom coms with a thousand famous characters whose lives run parallel to one another until they eventually intersect. About a half hour in or so, I recognized a scene that I had caught on some preview either at the movies or on TV. In the scene, a line of some of Hollywood’s most famous male comedians at Central Park or the like, each with a baby strapped to their chests in a papoose, line the horizon in a formidable manner. Between their looks and the punch lines, there’s no mistaking – they’re dads. Tasked with taking care of their little ones during the day, they’ve shed the image of the “Mr. Mom’s” of yesteryear. They’re not replacement moms, they’re dads. There are masculine overtones in their strict adherence to guy code…or should I say dad code? The message is clear: toting around snotty-nosed, poopy-diapered babies should never mean that dude stuff be sacrificed. And like any boys’ club, newcomers had better fall in line or GTFO.

20th Annual At-Home Dad Convention

20th Annual At-Home Dad Convention

This must be what Jessica Bennett is talking about when she says that culture is starting to catch up to a very real social phenomenon in her article “The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dad” featured in the New York Times. The prominent image of the article looks a bit like that scene in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. A bunch of dads lean in together at Central Park, babies strapped to their fronts and smiling kids on their sides. Years ago, this element of public life would be unheard of. Yet, here we are today with movies where comedy’s biggest names are endorsing this lifestyle and, as in the case of Bennett’s article (which appears in FASHION AND STYLE, no less) there are entire conferences where stay-at-home dads convene. Scrolling the Internet, you see blog after article after essay of stay-at-home-dads chronicling their experience as an emerging class in society. In a culture where women are increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners in their families and private child care is just so darn expensive, these messages are suggesting that stay-at-home dads are here…and for the long-haul.

So though I failed to include stay-at-home fathers in my last post, I won’t make that mistake again. If there’s anything that I’ve gleaned from the Liz Pardue Schultz’ piece that I wrote about last week or Jessica Bennett’s post this week, it’s that parenthood is tough, regardless of how you spin it. Parents need the opportunity to connect with each other over shared experiences, whether it is through an annual conference for career dads or an outspoken blog post. Though not a parent myself, I can attest to the isolation of raising kids. As a nanny, I don’t get moments with co-workers to swap stories over the water cooler. It’s me and baby. (Don’t get me wrong, like I imagine most parents would say, I love this about 95% of the time. But there are times that feel lonely.) That’s why excluding an important voice is a big no-no. Every caregiver deserves the right to be heard. ~ Jenny Nigro, reporting in for M.O.M. Social Media

See also link to the 20th Annual At-Home Dad’s Convention [CLICK]