MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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MAMA- Out of the Frying Pan; Into the Physical World [CLICK]

The ProCreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 17th edition of 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 academic, the para-academic, the digital, and the real, as well as the every day: wherever you live, work, and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. #JoinMAMA

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN: Beth Grossman -Seven frying pans are hung from men’s belts. Text from The Total Woman, written by Marabel Morgan in 1970 as a response to the feminist movement, is sandblasted into round mirrors stuck in the pan. As viewers read the text, they will see themselves in the mirrors. I ask them to take a look at how much has changed and improved as a result of feminism, and to consider how much remains the same within the male/female relationship. [Link to Procreate Beth Grossman]

ARTIST STATEMENT: In the United States, mothers and children are marginalized, even though we represent a large consumer market. Our leadership work as mothers is undervalued and unpaid. Artists are often are treated similarly. We have held onto our visions as children do, insist on speaking our minds and do the work we love. Our work as artists is often not well compensated in comparison to other commercial markets of similar size and scope.

Female art students are often told in art school “if you want to be considered as a serious artist, don’t have children.” In the traditional model of being an artist, one’s life must be consumed by art making. Raising children is also all-consuming. And yes, it has changed my life as an artist dramatically. I am more focused, organized, energized, inspired and determined to tell my story of being a professional artist and a “good mom.” My son shows me the world anew and I notice my own limited adult views.

My son has now gone off to college and I am entering a next stage of motherhood.  A friend told me that raising my son to be a sensitive, caring, loving young man who wants to contribute and “pay it forward,” was my best creative act.

mama. 17

The Physical World

From MER 14 “Change” Issue

By Nadia Colburn

For nine months
I anticipated,

as the other end
of pain,

a revelation:
a world turned

inside out.
Each inch I grew

marked a promise:
my present physical

certainty, my approaching
release. And, indeed,

torn open,
I gave birth

to the end of ideas:
Beyond pain was born

no understanding,
beyond understanding

was revealed
no new knowing but

another body, robust
which no thought

set screaming,
purple faced,

infuriated at air,
and no thought moved closer

to my breast,
and not thought closed

its thinly lidded
round brown eyes,

so soon worn out
by the unfamiliar light.

Nadia Colburn is the proud mother of two,  lives in Cambridge, MA. Her work has been widely published in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, LARB, Southwest Review, and elsewhere. A founding editor at Anchor Magazine: where spirituality and social justice meet, Nadia teaches online and in person creative writing workshops that bring together the head and the heart. See more at www.nadiacolburn.com

mama n . 17

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MAMA- Mothers Are Making Art in 2016 [CLICK]

MAMA - Mothers Are Making Art

MAMA – Mothers Are Making Art

The ProCreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the continuation of  this literary and scholarly discourse which intersects with the artistic to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between 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. #JoinMAMA

Weapons of  Maternal Destruction; Spoke and Rupture – things done and undone; in what moment does protection or defence turn upon itself and what are the consequences?

More about the Artist – Rachel Fallon

My work explores themes of protection and defence in domestic and maternal realms –  the protection of a mother for her child, for her mental health, of identity and place. My research findings lead, not to answers but to the formulation of more questions.  The work I make is an attempt to pin these questions down so that the viewer has the possibility to form their own answer through interaction with each piece.

The conflicts and ambivalences of the questions inform the choice of material and technique for each work.  The methods of making are crucial to revealing new ideas and resolving thought processes intrinsic to the initial starting point of the piece. Mother Magazine

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M/other Voices for the New Year

by M. Joy Rose (Originally published online by M/other Voices)

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.

M. Joy Rose and daughter Zena with Housewives On Prozac Band

M. Joy Rose and daughter Zena with Housewives On Prozac Band

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.

[1] http://fortune.com/2015/10/06/women-directors-hollywood/

[2] http://nmwa.org/advocate/get-facts

[3] Of Woman Born

[4] Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman

[5] Natalie Loveless, New Maternalisms, Fado Gallery 2012

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Reflections Of A Multicultural Mom

Art by Louise Camrass

Art by Louise Camrass

By Margaret Rapp

From Mom Egg Review Vol. 13

On my son’s third birthday, he got chicken pox. We cancelled his party, but I still gave him the present he most wanted – a Barbie doll. Although I am a “modern” Mom, I was a little uncomfortable giving him a Barbie, so I gave him a Barbie and Ken; and, since he is an inter-racial child and I wanted to be politically correct, I gave him a black Barbie and Ken (although Barbie did have a blonde streak in her hair). My son loved his gift and I can still see him, sitting in front of his cake with a birthday hat on, his face speckled with pox marks, holding up his Barbie (Ken had already been relegated to the unused toy box).

For the next two weeks, while he was recuperating, Barbie was his constant companion. When he went back to daycare, he wanted to take his Barbie for show and tell. While I had my misgivings on how the other children would react –would they make fun of him—I stuck to my feminist principles and didn’t discourage him. That afternoon when he came home, he threw his Barbie angrily in the corner. My first thought was that he had been teased or called a sissy. Then he tearfully said the words that are still imprinted in my mind. “I want a white Barbie.” He had never used the word white to refer to a person before. Years later, I learned that it was actually Jessie, a black girl who lived down the block, that had taunted him about his “black” Barbie.

I hate the word “bi”. Like in I am the mother of a biracial child. I keep expecting to see a child that is painted black on one side and white on the other like those mimes you see in the park standing like statues. It comes from that puritanical Calvinism where everything in America is bifurcated, cut in half, polarized. Like either/or, good/evil, black/white. And you are always expected to come down on one side or the other.

Murphy Brown was very big on TV when my son was small. After his Dad took off, I played the Murphy Brown role – the fast talking, independent woman who raised a child on her own. It worked very well until they found out I had a mixed race child. Even then, it could work if they thought he was adopted. Once they found out I had him the old fashioned way, I was relegated to the welfare Mom role –the woman who was too stupid to keep her legs together and was dumped when she got pregnant.

I know that my son has spent much of his childhood longing for some traditional nuclear family that he will never have (as do many children from both black and white homes). But our society is much more multicultural now than it was when my son was born twenty-six years ago. These days he self identifies as a German Haitian Dominican Jew. And we do have a “biracial” President.

My son is grown now – a muscled young man with light golden skin, deep dark eyes and the somewhat rounded features that compliment his dimpled smile. His dark curly hair is slowly turning into male patterned baldness — a trait which I find attractive but I suspect he is embarrassed by as he has taken to wearing a hat. He lives with a friend in Harlem and writes lyrics for a pop singer that plays the small downtown clubs. Like most starving artists, he walks dogs to pay the rent, It is hard to believe that he is actually a grown man who has to lean down to hug me instead of looking up at me. So why am I still so worried?

Sunday afternoon a couple of years ago, my son called me from the police station. He was picked up at 6am in Harlem in front of his house. When he protested that he had rights, he was arrested. After two days he was released. He spent two days in jail, lost two days work for which he was not paid, his only good winter jacket was torn when he was roughed up and he saw a homeless man beaten down by police while he was in the holding cell.

The particulars of why he was arrested aren’t important. The charges were dropped, the judge apologized. His legal aid attorney told him he should file charges for false arrest. He made some halfhearted noises about filing charges, but never followed through. He seemed defeated by the whole experience. When I told people what happened, indignant at my son’s mistreatment, the first question they asked was what did he do wrong? After a while, I kept quiet about it, ashamed that he had been arrested. I began to believe he had done something wrong. And I wondered if he would have been arrested if he had been white.

Two months ago he told me he was frisked again in the same neighborhood on his way to work. This time, when the arresting officer “copped an attitude” when he tried to find out the reason he was stopped, he didn’t say anything and let her frisk him because he didn’t want to be late for work. I didn’t know if I was more relieved that he had chosen the pragmatic approach to stay out of jail or saddened that he had learned the lesson society expected him to learn – that he is a second class citizen who knows enough to shut-up and keep his head down. And he was still late for work.

Recently my son told me he was glad that he had been raised in an “alternative” family. He felt that it gave him a more worldly and tolerant outlook on life. What I learned is what it feels like to worry every time my son walks out the door.

About the Author: Margaret Rapp–My life time commitment to feminism and feminist writing is a direct result of my experiences living as a single mom in New York City. I have met many interesting and diverse women I would not have met except for this one commonality and their stories are reflected in my writing. I continue to write short stories and plays for various reading venues in New York, blog on DailyKos and hopefully will get my novel “After the Music Died” published this year. Read more about MER/ Link is HERE

About the Artist: Louise Camrass — Louise was born in London in 1969 and is an artist using paint, charcoal, film/video, clay and performance. Her work charts the human experience. Sex, death, the poetry of our lives. Always responding to the people, places, atmospheres around her, she works with whatever medium suits the moment.
She is currently painting, inspired by the colour and atmosphere of Venice, of memory and times past.
This is also reflected in recent video which expresses the pathos of moving between past and present, the non linear nature of time. Read more at ProCreate Project/ Link is HERE

On becoming a mother from www.louisecamrass.com on Vimeo.

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The Mom Egg Review and Marjorie Tesser

Marjorie Tesser photoThere is a lot in store for the Museum of Motherhood over the next couple of months! We’re excited to share the events and projects we have planned leading up to Mother’s Day with you in our upcoming blog entries (including last week’s post about the 2015 conference titled “New Maternalisms” to be held on May 2). We hope that you will share these happenings with your communities and join us for these mother-centric plans.

This week, we’re profiling the Mom Egg Review, which will be celebrated at the Upper West Side Barnes and Noble location at Broadway and W 82nd St on Wednesday, May 7 from 7-9PM. The night will feature readings from select contributors to the collection. And who better to explain the purpose and vision of the Mom Egg Review than its editor, Marjorie Tesser?

For those of you who don’t know her, Marjorie Tesser is a poet and editor of the Mom Egg Review, an independent annual print collection of stories (both fiction and non-), poetry, and art that embraces motherwork. An attorney by training, she can also count editor and entrepreneur as her callings. In addition to editing the Mom Egg Review, Marjorie was also the editor of a compilation of poems called Bowery Women and co-editor of Estamos Aqui: Poems by Migrant Farmworkers. She is the author of two books of poems, The Important Thing Is and The Magic Feather.

Of the Mom Egg Review, Marjorie writes:

Mom Egg Review publishes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction by writers who are mothers or who write about motherhood.

There’s a school of thought in modern literature that the personal narrative is dead, that its narrow point of view speaks little to the complexities of today’s world; that those stories all have been told. But not these stories, of women’s lives—of family and motherhood, of culture, work, love, politics, from diverse women’s viewpoints and experience. For thousands of years, the focus of history and art has come from the perspective of males. But women’s stories and insights are important, vital, for our world.

The Museum of Motherhood (along with its non-profit Motherhood Foundation) believes in the importance of these stories, and supports, promotes, nurtures, and celebrates women and their work in an amazing variety of ways—creative, academic, maternal, and entrepreneurial are just some examples, and consistently fosters connections and collaboration.

Our current issue of Mom Egg Review contains a special poetry folio themed “Compassionate Action”. The poems address urgent circumstances, and explore options for overcoming stasis and aligning hands and feet with minds and hearts.

The Museum of Motherhood is the epitome of such action, telling and showing the truths about mothers’ roles and work and value. The media and the established powers, with their tendency to exalt or disparage motherhood, are not exposing these truths. It’s up to us to insure that our stories get told, and heard. We need to support the institutions that that work to ensure that our voices, our experience, views, needs, and realities, are acknowledged.

Contributed by: Jenny Nigro, MoM Online Intern