MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

By

Year End Report [CLICK]

Thank You To Our Friends, Supporters, and Partners

This has been a wonderful year for collaboration. M.O.M. saw three new initiatives launch in 2015. They included the Procreate Project along with The Mom Egg Review, Project Afterbirth, and the Jewish Biennale 2015 at Hechel Schlomo Museum in Israel (download press about this Jewish Biennal_Report here).

The Museum director Martha Joy Rose, also had opportunities to write and teach this year on behalf of M.O.M. She contributed to the M/other Voices Column, Demeter Press‘s forthcoming book on New Maternalisms, and was active teaching courses in Families and Social Change at Manhattan College in New York.

It is necessary and important that collaborations like these thrive. Programs that support mothers in the arts, acknowledge the economic value of caregivers, and promote education in the areas of mother (and father) studies are good for families and society. They help humanity evolve consciously and thoughtfully benefiting all people: they spread joy, they enlighten, lift, and create a communities of shared values.

Together we are creating our future today!

Jewish_Biennal_Report

Read the M/other Voices full essay here (and below).

A M/OTHER MOVEMENT FOR THE MASSES

Standing at the podium, about to begin a lecture to the twenty students in front of me at Manhattan College, I pop on a power point and click through the images of women creating mother-made art. In this particular slide-show there are curated photos from the Procreate Project, Project Afterbirth, m/other voices, Ima Iyla’a: The Art of Motherhood, Mamapalooza, and Demeter Press, as well as striking text from the Mom Egg Review. The students seem interested. The images are provocative, often including everything from menstruation blood to musical instruments. I have known for a long time how important it is for women who are mothers to have an arts movement of their own. And yet, gaining traction has proved to be harder than I thought. For many reasons, social, political, and cultural, women still lag behind globally in the arts world. From filmmakers who reportedly comprise a mere 4.1% of the top grossing directors of major motion pictures,[1] to the Guerilla Girls-inspired rants calling out major contemporary museums for their lack of equal exhibition time, women in the arts still have a lot of catching up to do.[2] Motherhood complicates these inequities further for reasons that are difficult to identify, but let me try.

There are three major forces compounding mother’s visibility in the arts: identity, consensus, and physical dis/ability. Let us first look at identity. Before we can even begin to dive into the idea of a mother-inspired arts movement, we need to clarify what is a mother? You might feel like arguing with me that there is no need, but in fact there is a need. If one is going to create a mother-arts movement one has to know whom one is including, and what the point of your movement is. Are you going to call your arts event a celebration of motherhood? What about those who do not think it is an elation, but rather a great misery heaped on them when they were least prepared? Are you concerned about the procreative act itself? The carrying, and waiting for the development and birth of the future child? What are you going to do with the adoptive mothers who did not birth their babies but are finding their mother-identity through the act of caregiving? And what about the ones who lost their children along the way? Are you going to include parents; meaning the mother and the father? This is a lovely idea, but, if you include parents, what do you do to amplify the unique experience of one who cellularly divides? The one whose body goes through embodied changes? Then, what about the “single” mother, with no likely partner or spouse? What are you going to do with grandmothers, stepmothers, gay couples, and the surrogates? Unlike many other objects or identities, from the very beginning the notion of mother is fraught. She is not a simple creature. She might not even be a woman. Therefore, conceivably a mother might be a he. Likewise, politically speaking, a mother might be a religious, right-minded, anti-abortion, Phyllis Schlafly kind of character, or she might be a forthright, left-leaning feminist. She might be an advocate of something you hate, and therefore you are tempted to hate her, or she might be a killer, a thief, or an addict. She might be absent. Is she one whose story you want to include? Are you going to share your arts movement with her? Herein lies the crux of the number one problem of a m/other based movement. There are so many kinds. I have been masticating on this for the better part of 26 years trying to sort out its complications.

While writing my thesis for graduate school I struggled not only with a definition of mother, but also with a definition of what the academic study of mothers might include. My reasoning for this was twofold. In my experience as the creator of an arts festival, which has aimed to highlight the varying voices, art, comedy, music, theater, and literature of motherhood, I consistently wrestled with what to do with the women who were not mothers but were other-mothers, aunties, and nannies insisting they wanted their experiences to be included. I wrestled with what to do with the caregiving partners, fathers, grandparents, and children of these creative-types, mostly because thy also often inquired about being included. Sometimes mothers wanted to blend their families in their art making and even if they didn’t, non-mothers often wanted to feel they too could exercise their voice. This challenged my vision for mother-made art, if only in the sense that it constantly required me to question whom to include or not include? If the art is about family, what sets these mothers apart from the others they are connected to? What makes them unique, or special, or why should they have a festival, movement, arts-based collection all their own? We all know that historically women’s voices have been silent relatively and mothers even more so. That could be reason enough, but in the end, maybe not. Questions and complications remain. No one, including me, seems satisfied with exclusionary practices.

The second part of the dilemma is, if we could identify the specificities of what mother is, how do we gain consensus on whether she is worth studying or whether her art is specifically noteworthy and deserving of its own category? Considering that we have left the first question somewhat unanswered, then the second question of cooperation creates its own challenges. The status or category of mother is often fraught. She does not represent all good things despite the fact that we have expected her to be everything: creator, collaborator, connector, and caregiver, for free, forever, unconditionally? Mothers manifest their fair share of resentment, both for socially constructed reasons and for psychological ones. Feminist movements reluctantly embrace motherhood if at all, and even mothers themselves seem unsure whether they care more about activism, equal wages, or getting dinner on the table. There is not enough time in this essay to adequately address this, although many have tried including Adrienne Rich[3] and Phyllis Chesler[4] for example. Let us for the purposes of this article simply say that it is extremely difficult to get people to agree on a consensus regarding mothers, mother-art, and motherhood.

Finally, leaving the answers to the first two issues ambiguous, we can now move to the very real challenges most mothers face, which include ability, time, and perspective. As any mother of a young one will attest to, creating anything other than limited cleanliness, order, income, and edible food can be a full-time occupation. Mix in the ephemeral nature of art and challenges arise. How does one find the hours in the day (or night)? The space? Some regularity? Should one buy paints or food? Make music or buy shoes? Natalie Loveless claims in her curated exhibit titled New Maternalisms that “mama-artists [need] to find creative ways of integrating their practices as mothers, artists, curators, writers, and teachers. By taking seriously the need to create from local and embodied conditions, these practices bring visibility and value to the maternal in and as art.”[5] I agree with her. But, as I have articulated, distinct challenges remain.

Ultimately, the notion of exactly what makes a mother, be it birth, caregiving, egg donation, or identity can all be debated. However, we define what a mother is and what the art-movement looks like, it must include relational aspects. Words like m/other, m/otherness, or mother-ness attempt to describe this. Any idea of mother must include the concept of transformation, inclusion, and evolution. Both the personal and relational status of me + other = m/other proposes an examination of how m/otherness or mother-ness is the experience of being connected, or disconnected, to one who is part of you. Or, of being a person who, as part of another and also linked to another (genetically, through caregiving, or by association), might inform action in a world conceived as relational. This view differs from our current social system. Current systems have been motivated by alienation, and by violent, external, institutional, and hierarchical social constructions. Herein’ lies the call for change. As Rothman asserts in the Book of Life, “The world that I live in, and the world that I want for my children, is not a world of scattered isolated individuals, and not a world of walls. It is a world of communities, of social solidarity, of connectedness between individuals and between communities, a world in which people and communities grow from and into each other.” (p.233). She explains that motherhood is “otherhood.” Or, as I theorize here: a mother is one who who divides, yet through that division he/she is paradoxically increased. Therefore, the division is also a multiplication. A theory of mother-ness privileges the conversation of difference (or division) and insists on tolerant engagement (connection) as well as intense intellectual curiosity as a fundamental practice. Therefore, as we make art, explore motherhood, and find ways to move forward, let us lift each other up. Let us continue to explore our victories as we lament our losses. Let us speak not with one voice, but with many voices and most of all – let that be okay.

BIO: ART, RESEARCH, THEORY: In the December column we are pleased to feature Martha Joy Rose, (USA), a New York-based performance artist, scholar, and the mother of four young adults ages 21-26. Having been named as “God Mother of Mom Rock” by the CNN, Joy has been making music since the early 1980’s in New York City. With the birth of her first child she created the Housewives On Prozac band, which has enjoyed international success and spawned a mother-made music movement. In 2002, seeking to identify the unique expressions of women who are mothers and to amplify their voices, Joy founded the Mamapalooza Festival, currently being administrated each May through the New York Parks Department. In 2009, she directed the film The Motherhood Movement: You Say You Want a Revolution, which promotes, showcases, and makes visible maternal discussion, disseminating information on the subject of Feminist/activist Mothers and the missions of International Maternal agencies. Working together with a team of academics and activists, Joy opened the first-ever Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M.) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 2011. Currently she is teaching “Families and Social Change” at Manhattan College. Joy’s Master’s Degree in Mother Studies is a herstoric first, and she has written for Sage Press, Demeter Press, and assorted literary journals.

By

New Online Art Exhibits & International Events [CLICK]

Anna Kell Artwork Nursing_Install & MOM museum online exhibit

Anna Kell Artwork Nursing_Install & MOM museum online exhibit

– Announcing a new exhibit by Anna Kell online here at the Museum of Motherhood-
“Nursing Install” is an exploration of mother-work and art. Read more here [CLICK].

FULL ART PAGE ONLINE EXHIBITS

By

The Music of Motherhood

CALL FOR PAPERS

Demeter_Logo

Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection
The Music of Motherhood
Co-editors: Martha Joy Rose, Lynda Ross, and Jennifer Hartmann
Publication Date: Fall 2016

Music is an important form of self-expression and vehicle for social engagement. Activists like Charlotte Perkins Gilman published songs calling for suffragists  “to lift mankind” in the early 1900s. A century later, Patricia Hill Collins dedicated her literary voice to “people who have been silenced.” In recent history,  “mom rockers” have made contributions to feminist articulations about motherhood that have pushed this conversation into mainstream society.

Music operates as a language in cultures around the world, but employment of its articulations and interpretations are varied. Whether used as a rallying cry, an anthem, a hymn, a lullaby, or a pop song, music anchors memories and relationships, disrupts complacency, and calls to the spirit. This collection aims to focus on the power of music as a force for transformation and a tool for amplifying issues that concern us all.

Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:

How has music contributed to a dialogue about race, class, and gender as they pertain to motherhood? How do mothers engage with music specifically? What obstacles do women, who are mothers, face when making music, and what are they doing about it? What are “mom rock” and “daddy rock” and what do they contribute to social awareness? What are the psychological benefits of the materiality and praxis of music? How are notions of self-identity discovered in the creative act? How might music speak back to hegemony and liberate us from limiting ideologies? Can the acts of creating, performing, moving to, or listening to music be considered pathways for healing? How are motherhood and music articulated in the public sphere, and how are they leveraged for activism and social change?

We welcome historical, sociological, political, and psychological interpretations from musicologists, ethnomusicologists, folklorists, artists, theorists, activists, students, and educators.

Proposal Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be 250 words.
Please also include a paper title and a brief biography (50 words) and citizenship.
Please send as an email attachment (preferably as a Word document) to

  1. M. Joy Rose, Lynda Ross, and Jennifer Hartmann at:

MusicMotherhood@gmail.com
(Important:  The Music of Motherhood should be used the subject line of your email submission)
Deadline for Abstracts is 30 April 2015
Accepted papers of 4000-5000 words (15-20 pages) will be 31 December 2015.
and should conform to MLA citation format.

Demeter Press
140 Holland St. West, PO 13022
Bradford, ON, CANADA, L3Z 2Y5 Tel: (905) 775-9089
www.demeterpress.org / info@demeterpress.org

By

Community, Caring, and Education [CLICK]

Next_GenerationThe Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M.) is an exhibition and education center dedicated to the exploration of family – past, present, and future. We highlight the many roles of women throughout history and in contemporary culture.

In our museum space we provide mothers, fathers, youth, caregivers, and mothers-to-be insights into what they will experience as parents and how to handle it. We educate them about the emotional and physical aspects of child rearing, exposing them to different global traditions, and giving them insights into the context of mothering in the social sphere in which mothering is done.

Institutions can create a positive sense of community and an increased sense of connectedness. We share library books, films, collaborative art projects, and conferences, often at little or no cost to make cultural literacy available to those who might not otherwise have access to these types of resources.

The need for M.O.M. is highlighted by the work of the feminist movement, the gender agenda, and global women’s health initiatives.

Precedence for M.O.M. has been established through the initiatives of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the International Museum Of Women and the First Ladies’ Library. They are all positive contributors to expanding education about women in history. But our intense focus on the motherhood, fatherhood and caregiving roles opens the conversation to unlimited opportunities for exploration and documentation within the sphere of procreation and sustainability, not to mention how humanity hopes to evolve.

The development of a “Motherhood Movement” during the last twenty years as well as other mother-related literature and the explosion of “Mom Blogs” and awareness of the “Mommy Wars”, have impacted the vast social, economic, and cultural landscape. Thus, the expanded museum exhibit space and educational facility that we envision will be eminently worthwhile. Together we will be putting the subject of motherhood and family on the map.

Our long-term goals include the acquisition of a permanent physical space to house M.O.M. as we continue to develop our traveling exhibits and online initiatives, which include courses in Mother Studies, the MOM Directory, and the student run, Institute For Family Research and Development.