The Muteness and the Scream
I have always believed in Art with a purpose. I have always believed that I needed a motive, a driving force of social change for my creative process to make sense. When I saw myself pregnant that feeling had simply gone. Perhaps by irony, the patriarchal oppression that I have never acknowledged in my own life, paralyzed me and the torrent of the classical dual feelings of motherhood threw me in a black hole. I no longer saw myself as an individual, a woman, an artist, nor could I see myself as an autonomous being.
This process of turning back to my old self took me three years. It was three years of creative labour to get through the cowardice of patriarchy that oppress women, creating an invisible work force for the perpetuation of the human life, shutting up feminine strength and independence. However, in my situation there is no specific villain, there is no false dichotomy of good and evil, only the branding print in the collective subconscious that women are responsible for raising their children.
During those three years, I had lost my identity and did not know where to start to get it back. That is until I came across “an Artist Residency in Motherhood”. This residency helped me uncover that I could unglue myself from the symbiosis that is to be a mother and retrieve my identity. My driving force of creation was slowly coming back. It has shown me that Motherhood is a fertile ground for social change and I could finally see that I was not the only one feeling this particular way. Through different readings from other artist mothers, I realised that what I was actually searching for was not an excuse to work, but a good enough excuse. It was not about the patriarchal oppression of feminine exclusivity in raising the children, nor the unfair share of the children´s care, even less the lack of the State support in the form of day-care and schools. It was finally clear to me, that I muted myself because of the lack of recognition of the artistic labour as a worthy enough labour for me to outsource the daily care of my son.
I´m an artist and I´m a woman. I believe in Art as a living force of change. For me, being a mother was not only to yield to all the patriarchal conjecture but to disbelieve in all those special values that made me who I was before, nullifying my own self. Using Art as an instrument and the Residency as catapult, I could see myself as a woman again, independent and above all as a capable individual.
I believe now that I should share this overwhelming experience of imprisonment and freedom. I should go out of my cocoon and show, through everything that I lived the importance of dealing with the Motherhood thematic in Arts. Motherhood needs to cease to be a taboo, to be unwelcome and shameful and can finally reach femininity´s real symbolism of ancestry strength.
Thayná Bonin, a special old friend, who is such a sensible photographer, suggested that her and I could co-create a project to deal with all these issues. Therefore, we have created a photographic manifesto to expose Motherhood in its deepest rawness and awkwardness, but also beauty.
PHOTOGRAPHIC MANIFESTO ART AND MOTHERHOOD
We open the door and invite you to see the shadows, shadows from the story of a woman surviving motherhood on a patriarchal society.
We recover what mother-being has of most human and instinctive, we search for the access to our lost ancestry.
Surviving motherhood on a patriarchal society is painful.
In this society, being a mother means always feeling guilty and tired, to do the job of a whole of society alone.
But beyond the oppressions being a mother is also being able to fight, to survive, to reinvent oneself and to reconnect to our inner nature and strength.
These photos are a manifest, they invite you to look at mothers with compassion, humanity and love.
They are an instrument used to seek a new identity, they deny the bourgeois myth of the all-loving, all-forgiving and all-sacrificing mother and try to reach that touching point of two distinct beings with their own dreams and wishes, passions and fears.
They bring humanity back to the women-mothers, putting them back in focus, the place where they belong in life.
We believe photography can transform and empower the way women see themselves as a woman and as a human being. We hope that through this personal experience of patriarchal oppression we can reach other women and mothers, and that together we can be stronger. Art can be powerful.
Let us rise.
WHEN YOU WERE WILD
(after Louise Erdrich)
When you were far away
snow fell green
Where trees were white hoary mountains
When three hundred year old men
could sleep beneath eagles
and become boys again
When I called to you
my voice at first a whisper
When all the mandrake roots were
taken from the earth
When a wind sighing chant
brought you to me.
Originally published in Mom Egg Review Vol. 13
L.B. Williams is the author of, Letters to Virginia Woolf, (Hamilton Books, 2005). Her poetry has appeared in such publications as Washington Square, Mom Egg Review, Sunrise from Blue Thunder (A Pirene’s Fountain Anthology). She has also published two poetry chapbooks, Sky Studies, (Finishing Line Press Fall 2014), and The Eighth Phrase (Porkbelly Press, October 2014). A new poetry chapbook, In the Early Morning Calling, is forthcoming this year from Finishing Line Press. She is Professor of Literature at Ramapo College of New
The Museum of Motherhood, the ProCreate Project, the Mom Egg Review, and the Mother Magazine are pleased to announce the launch of a bi-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