MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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Scream; and a Story of Loss [CLICK]

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

Silent scream– paint,marker and menstruation blood on paper (2015)
Artist Statement by Dagmara Bilon

MAMA ISSUE 14

My current practice is an expression of liberty and defiances to taboos and conventions. Opening up awareness to my wonder-es cycling self, gluing plastic bags with gaffer tape to make a gigantic placenta, feeding my plants menstruation blood and using the earth as material to make body prints. In a self-preserving, modern capitalistic and digital, detached society; I seek authentic expression and an intuitive exploration of felt experiences and impressions involving in a direct way the body.

Creative frameworks allow me to investigate a visual language that layer various realities to express surreal depictions of the female body as a source of vulnerable confinement and humerus provocation. The process of making is an invocation and reality is dissected into images fusing the imagined and the real. Scenes form out of the process of bringing together objects in relation to body, space and text. My work is process based and unfolds through experimentation, embodied investigation and collaboration with other artists.

More about the artist:
Dagmara Bilon is a performance artist/maker, who have been making work since 2003. She creates durational, action based and one to one performance work, for live audiences and for video. Dagmara is also a Dance Movement Therapist, a Purple Lady and lives with her two daughters in south-east London. Work has been presented in England, France, Romania, Iceland, Denmark, Croatia and Spain.
For more information on her work see website www.dagmarabilon.com www.thepurpleladies.com

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On Friday Nights by Gabriella Burman

Originally published in The Mom Egg

Lately, my four-year-old thinks she is old enough to strike the matches. On Friday evenings at sundown, when we light candles to usher in the Jewish Sabbath, she climbs onto the countertop, and grabs the slim box with chubby hands that resemble her oldest sister’s.

Without fail, each week, she does this, and without fail, each week, her father and admonish her that matches are dangerous, somehow not mastering, ourselves, the lesson to keep them out of her reach at the moment we take them out of the cupboard.

Every family has its variation of how the blessing is recited. Some light a pair of candles; some, as we do, light for the number of members of the family. Some recite the blessing in order of seniority; others, in unison. In traditional homes, only the women light; in others, the men participate. But the Hebrew words, whether sung or spoken, remain the same: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with

His commandments, and commanded us to light the Sabbath candles. In our family, the blessing is sealed with a kiss. This is how I was raised. As soon as Shabbat began, my sister and I stood by our mother’s side as she lit her silver candelabra. It stood on a shining mirrored plate on a buffet in the dining room, in front of an octagonal mirror that reflected us, watching her.

She placed her manicured hands over her eyes, and silently said the blessing, followed by a lengthy moment of quiet that indicated a dialogue with God. What she asked of Him, she never shared. When she was done, my sister and I each took our turn, and then she kissed us with great force. Shortly thereafter, we sat down to eat.

In my home, I bless five candles in the kitchen, atop a paper covered with Sabbath-themed stickers, stuck to a layer of protective, yet scratched, acrylic. It was a preschool present from Michaela, our oldest daughter, who died unexpectedly when she was five. I never added a silent prayer to God the way my mother does, but now, I offer up a silent “Fuck You.”

This is especially true on the eves of Jewish holidays, which are also ushered in by candle lighting, and to which we add a second blessing thanking God for enabling us to “reach this occasion.” The phrase sounds more powerful in Hebrew, no more so than when David Ben Gurion exclaimed it upon the establishment of the State of Israel, or when my grandfather, a survivor of Auschwitz, proclaimed it at my wedding. To me, now, that second blessing is, simply, offensive. I thank no one for arriving at this moment; I feel scorched by my daughter’s death, and have neither the envy for, nor the capacity to emulate, those who retain faith after catastrophe.

But this is my heritage. To have created a Jewish home after the Holocaust was a source of pride for my Zaide, as we called him, and it has been paramount to my mother, who refers to the imperative every chance she gets. It is all she can do for her parents, I believe, after what they endured, their forearms branded with numbers, their dreams blazing forever thereafter, despite the prescriptions they took.

The truth is, when I was a child, I loved being a Jew, the stories of our patriarchs, the exodus from Egypt, the fall of the walls of Jericho. I took pride in speaking Hebrew, mastering text, and feeling completely secure, as when I walked into a synagogue during a college semester in Paris, opened a prayer book in the sanctuary, and immediately felt at home.

And even when, as an adult, I became more skeptical of religion, coming to view it as a man-made construct, I continued to observe Shabbat and to keep kosher. When Adam and I married, we agreed to raise our children the way we had been raised. If, playing out the quintessential Jewish parental nightmare, they ultimately reject our lifestyle, we reasoned, at least, they’ll know what they’re leaving.

Michaela, who had cerebral palsy and could not speak, told us in her way that she enjoyed Shabbat, her eyes widening along with the rise in a melody, and “mmming” at the cold grape juice she tasted after Adam blessed the wine, and I suspect this would have gone on forever. While it is too soon to tell with the more emotional Maayan, I am doubtful that Ayelet, our middle daughter, will ever rebel. Ayelet’s heart flutters with devotion that is absent in my own heartbeat; her soul shines through deep, brown eyes.

She loves God even more than her parents, she says, “because He gave me you!” and she truly believes, at age six, that God is responsible for everything, and that we must thank Him every day.

She is the one who leads us in blessing on Friday nights. Standing at a safe distance from the flames, her hair swinging like a drape, she covers her eyes and sings in Hebrew, using a tune she learned at school. Maayan copies her moves, and sings along in a voice that would be lovely if she didn’t scream so much. I accompany them; if I am too quiet, they shout, “Louder, Mommy!” After we’re done, we grin and hug like happy apes, and then the girls return to their cartwheels.

I linger a moment, before setting the table with challah, silver goblets, and what will always be the wrong number of plates. I gaze at the passport-sized pictures of each of my daughters, which I’ve set next to my own candelabra. For a fine-haired moment, I take small comfort in knowing there is something I continue to do which still involves the number five. I will always, always light five candles.

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Gabriella Burman was born and raised in suburban Detroit and graduated with a degree in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University, where she studied with Robert Stone and Chaim Potok. Gabi has been sharing her life story since she first picked up a diary as a child. She now writes non-fiction from her home in Huntington Woods, MI, where she and her husband are raising their daughters.

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The Measurement Project & Pregnant With Meaning

The ProCreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 10th edition of  thisscholarly 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 everyday: wherever you live, work, and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. #JoinMAMA

Each day of pregnancy, the artist Sarah Irvin measured her stomach at navel height with a piece of yarn. The Measurement Project is the accumulation of this daily ritual.More about the artist:

Current project-based series is entitled A Bringing Forth, derived from the Latin root of the term post-partum. The work is enabled by and exists within the context of motherhood. In the struggle to reconcile the notion of parenting to my practice, the artist decided that it was the nature of the practice that needed to adapt, not the nature of parenthood.

Sarah established mechanisms to capture the physical actions of parenting as a mark on a page. For instance, the area rugs in the nursery created transfer drawings as she walked across them, the glider rocker created drawings as she and the baby rocked, and the stroller created drawings while strolling.  These works were enabled by the activities of the daily routine and captured the kinetic energy and labor involved in the care and nurturing of an infant. During the second and third months of her daughter’s life, she created a series of watercolors exclusively while she slept, with each set considered complete when she awoke, allowing my circumstances to dictate aspects of my creative output. While breastfeeding, Sarah made drawings on paper created from bed sheets. Looping marks in the drawings corresponded to individual suck and swallow motions of nursing and provided real-time read of the experience. Other iterations of this series include Sarah’s daughter’s nursery as camera obscura; cyanotypes created with her blankets, toys and clothing; silverpoint drawings tracing her early movements made with jewelry from her grandmother; and paintings made with a baby bottle and formula. [More at Procreate Project]

MAMA ISSUE N.11

PREGNANT WITH MEANING
by Anelie Crighton

Pregnancy, as experienced, is not a metaphor, but a challenge: those solid thumps to the ribcage are reminders that much as you might like to think of yourself as a brain on a stick, an intellect tethered to the complex technology that is the body, you are in fact a placental mammal. You need to work? No, you need to nap. You want to stride along like you always did, long straight steps, fast and confident? By week 30 it will be all you can do not to waddle.

My walking mantra is, ‘There is nothing wrong with your legs. There is nothing wrong with your legs.’ This is strictly true. There is, however, something wrong with my feet (swollen), pelvis (slowly disconnecting), lower back (hurting), stomach muscles (stretched), blood pressure (low) and brain (sorry?). My horizons have gradually contracted. My slow pace and ready fatigue make the ten minute tram ride into the centre of town seem the equal of a day-long trek. At home I must intersperse activity with rest, reaching for another glass of iced water while I prop up my comically puffy feet. I feel hot all the time, and am immensely fond of very cold drinks and ice cream. Very cold ice cream drinks are also acceptable.
The tenant has been excellent company. Once his movements were detectable at 22 weeks, his wriggles and stretches and somersaults were delightful. While he still had the room he moved rapidly and erratically, brief flutterings and jabs like the strangest indigestion you’ve ever had. As he’s grown, his reachings have slowed, become more definite, more obviously in response to changes in his environment. Any time I lean forward, a small foot firmly reminds me that he does not appreciate cramped lodgings. I have pointed out that at 5’10” I offer quite spacious accommodation, but the kicks continue.

One day my husband caught a glimpse of me dressing and said in wonder, ‘You look beautiful.’ I found this astonishing; I look like a woman who’s swallowed a basketball, perhaps to distract attention from her thick ankles and dry hair. I have had a protruding belly for months yet still misjudge my movements, my round new boundary regularly encountering table edges and door frames. Numerous sleepless nights have hung a crescent under each eye. The fit of my voluminous maternity pants gets a little more snug each week. There is beauty here?

Observed and observing, one’s progress is constantly at issue – are you gaining weight, feeling worse, sleeping less? Is the baby growing longer and fattening up, does it move ten times an hour twice a day? Once you’ve exhausted the present, the future beckons: that unpredictable day (early? late?) when the contractions begin, and the x hours thereafter when you’ll breathe and relax and finally make up your mind about an epidural. The days to follow with the fragile and confused newborn, the nights of crying and feedings. And just wait ‘til they’re a year old! Or 18 months! Or two years! The early months will feel like years, they say, when they’re not saying it will all go by so fast. Parenting is asynchrony.

What a rude shock this is, this memento corporis, this foregrounding of flesh-and-blood. Our social selves are fundamentally intellectual, personas sprung from the mind which connect through the invisible media of speech and sight. We are our words, our views, our status updates – until pregnancy, when the body reasserts itself. It has a formidable arsenal to bring you down: faintness, fatigue, pain, squeezed lungs: all of these are more than equal to your conviction that you can carry on as though your ballooning midriff is a minor inconvenience. Sure, march up that staircase – just don’t expect to get to the top without puffing like a steam train and feeling dizzy. Keep working or studying, but be ready to embrace synonyms and dead-ends, distraction and sudden blanks. A new patience with yourself is required, a temporary accommodation. Because the fact is, you’re extremely busy. Under the surface you’re assembling genes and cells, connecting neurons and testing muscles. Science-fiction factories of precision parts could only dream of replicating with your efficiency. Pregnancy has evolved from being an accessible miracle, a blessed mystery bestowed upon us by a benevolent creator, to seeming the supreme technological achievement, an inbuilt instruction set of vast complexity which draws millions of parts into just the relation required to produce a new thinking, feeling person. The terminology might have changed, but our awe is the same.

And so the due date looms, and I am working my way through the last chores and warily witnessing what new discomforts my body devises. The pivot-point of birth separates the weeks before, which are trapped beneath a net of plans and appointments and checklists and advice; and the weeks after, nothing but a huge blank, a cute stranger with incoherent needs, a new life for him, for my husband, and for me. A challenge, indeed, which will forever re-balance the relationship between mind and body.

Author Bio: Anelie Crighton is an Australian Arts grad raising her little blonde bundle of energy in Germany who ekes out snippets of time to write between loads of laundry and rounds of raucous baby giggling. anelie.wordpress.com

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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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M.A.M.A. – Mothers ARE Making Art – New Installation(s)

WHAT: The ProCreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are partnering for bi-monthly on-line presentations featuring M.A.M.A. – Mothers are Making Art.
WHEN: The 1st and the 15th of each month words and images will highlight the joy and the challenges of being both a mother and an artist.
WHERE: Online is the place! We will host works of art about mothers and mothers-to-be; featuring academic and creative writing in order to promote women internationally and generate cultural exchanges and opportunities.

WHY: We are determined to explore the extraordinary experiences of mothers and how, by means of channeling these new and powerful energies a person can cultivate both motherhood and art. However, support is needed and awareness must be raised to facilitate this process and to finally empower it.

We strive to give voice to all women, make acceptable room for “feelings,” sensations, and interpretations without judgment; we want to make space for mothers in the arts to display their work and move a conversation about “the art of motherhood” forward. DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE.

@ProcreateProj  @MOMmuseum @TheMomEgg #JoinMAMA

slide5This month features Lynn Lu (Pictured on homepage and above here) and Beck Tipper, whose writing is highlighted on the M.A.M.A. page here.

Paradoxes for the Virtual collaborative Skype performance with Birgitta Hosea on YouTube [LINK].
Lab451LONDON; Camden Image Gallery; London, UK. 2015
In a game of Exquisite Corpse, Lynn Lu (live) and Birgitta Hosea (projected from SKYPE) explore intimacy and the generation of interpersonal closeness across a virtual divide through a scored series of shared confidences.

-PREGNANCY AND AFTER MOTHERHOOD INSPIRED SEVERAL OF THE LYNN LU PERFORMANCES AND INSTALLATIONS-

Lynn Lu received a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University with a major in Sculpture and a minor in Graphic Design in 1999. In 1998, she studied with Christian Boltanski at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and at the École Marchutz in Aix-en-Provence. She earned her MFA in New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002, and completed a PhD program (ABD) at Musashino Art University in Tokyo in 2008, on a full scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2010 she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Since 1997, Lynn has exhibited and performed extensively in the United States, Singapore, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Poland, Belarus, Czech Republic, Turkey, Greece, Argentina, and Canada.

See more about Lynn at ProcreateProject.com

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Meet Laura Fuentes on May 9 at the Upper West Side Barnes and Noble!

laura fuentes imageContinuing from our post last week about the programming that we have going on during the week leading up to Mother’s Day, we’re pleased to showcase the event that will be held on Saturday, May 9. As with the Mother Egg Review event we mentioned in our last post, the Museum of Motherhood will emcee a series of mother-centric appearances and readings at the Upper West Side Barnes and Noble (at 82nd and Broadway) from May 6-10. These events coincide with a fundraiser to benefit the museum, hosted by B & N. You may have seen this posted on other parts of our site, but just in case you missed it, here’s the skinny on the fundraiser: for the week of May 6-15, anyone who purchases books through barnesandnoble.com and uses the code 11455805 will see a portion of their sale go to the Museum of Motherhood. On Saturday, May 9, we will welcome Laura Fuentes, renown children’s wellness expert, to the Upper West Side Barnes and Noble from 1-3PM.

Laura is an author, speaker, recipe developer, entrepreneur, and expert in the field of family nutrition. She is the creator and founder of MOMables, an online resource that offers fun and creative ideas for planning kids’ school lunches. She is the host of MOMables Radio, a podcast available on iTunes, a columnist for the Huffington Post, a purveyor of useful how-tos on her YouTube channel, and the author of two must-have recipe books for parents everywhere: The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet and The Best Homemade Snacks on the Planet. Additionally, Laura speaks nationally on a wide range of topics, including family food, children’s health, school lunch policy, and business. She holds a degree in Global Economics and a Master’s of Business Administration. A common thread among these ventures, Laura is “committed to helping parents make real food happen in their households by sharing easy recipes and quick tips.” Laura is a native of Spain and the mother of three.

Contributed by: Jenny Nigro, MoM Online Intern

 

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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