MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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Celebrating the Anniversary of M.A.M.A. ~ Mothers Are Making Art [CLICK]

Here at M.A.M.A. we have been pregnant with possibilities all year long. In fact, we’re celebrating the anniversary of our collaboration this month. Read all about exciting changes at M.O.M. in our June Newsletter here [LINK].

WHO: The ProCreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are partnering with the MOTHER MAGAZINE for quarterly publications, along with for bi-monthly on-line presentations featuring M.A.M.A. – Mothers are Making Art. CLICK
@ProcreateProj   @MOMmuseum   @TheMomEgg  @TheMotherMag

One_Year

SONOGRAM
by Susan Vespoli

When my daughter was a toddler
she stroked my cheek like it was the silk
edge of a blanket and pressed
the nipple-ends of soft balloons
into the plastic mouths of dolls

and when she grew breasts
boys flocked around her
like birds to our backyard
come to pluck seeds
from the center of a sunflower

and then her hands gained skill
to text friends, flick cigarettes
from the back porch, play Bad Fish
on guitar strings, and flip her middle
finger into the air like a slim bomb

until it finally folded back up, resting
in the cupped palm of the woman
who smiles at me from an exam table
with her eyes as bright as a camera flash
at the blip, blip, blip of a lit star that will be Molly.

(Originally published in Mom Egg Review Vol. 14 “Change”).

Susan Vespoli lives in Phoenix where she teaches English at a downtown
community college, rides her bike along the canals, and walks her 3-legged dog
Jack. Her poetry and prose have been published online and in various print
anthologies and journals.

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A Magnificent Move ~ Featuring Mother The Job [CLICK]

As I settle in the beautiful city of St. Petersburg, I can’t help but look around in wonder? After living and working in Manhattan (and nearby Hastings On Hudson) for the last 37 years, Florida is a BIG change! I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but two of my children graduated from Eckerd College so I am fairly savvy to the area.

There are a plethora of choices when it comes to picking a lifestyle here. I have met people who live on Beach Drive in the heart of downtown St Petersburg; friends who make their homes within a few hundred yards of the Gulf of Mexico, and some acquaintances who experience the desperation of having no place at all to call home.

I ask myself, what am I doing here? What is my justification for picking this spot? What do I hope to accomplish? While some of my peers are taking a much-needed sabbatical, and many of my colleagues (who are just a few years ahead of me) are thinking about retirement, I have chosen to create a live/work situation across the street from St. Petersburg High School in the Historic Kenwood Arts District of downtown St. Pete. Most recently, Kenwood won first place in the “Physical Revitalization-Single Neighborhood LINK.”  (continue reading below slide show)….

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This decision honors a commitment made after years of great personal adversity. Bed-ridden from SLE and renal complications in my late thirties, into my mid-forties, I had a lot of time to think about my life– and life in general. Although I had been amply blessed and was grateful for much of what I received in terms of the health of my children and financial well-being, I began to realize that I had not been living up to my potential. I received a very clear spiritual message. Illness was the universe’s way of making me tune into a much larger mission.

This new thirst for knowledge and longing for empowerment led me towards a feminist sociological investigation into the arts, history, and science of motherhood and mothering. From the ridiculous to the sublime I screamed, sang, and shouted from the stage with my band Housewives On Prozac. Slowly, a vision for mothers in the visual and performing arts crystallized. (You can read more about this at Mutha Magazine. LINK is HERE).

Now, sixteen years later (and twenty-seven years after my first child), I am bringing the latest incarnation of the Museum of Motherhood to 538 28th St. N. St. Petersburg, Florida 33713. The Museum has popped up in Dobbs Ferry, NY (2003-2005), 401 E. 84th St. NYC (2011-2014), and now: here. The aim of this newest space is to forge community connections while highlighting exhibitions about mothers, fathers, and families. I am so very thrilled that Alexia Nye Jackson has agreed to share her fantastic work titled “Mother The Job,” an arts-based, economic exploration of motherhood in the U.S.A.

Also included are the ProCreate Project Archive and assorted fine art by Anna Rose Bain, Helen Knowles, Vee Malnar, Ronni Komarow, Noa Shay, Norman Gardner, and others. The Museum will open its doors to the public beginning September 2016. Hours will be Thursday & Friday 11-6pm and Saturday 1-4, by appointment only for tours, talks, films, and special activities. Visitors may access our extensive collection of books in the Andrea O’Reilly Library. Call 207.504.3001 (877.711.6667).

We will also launch three new initiatives in addition to Mother Studies courses online, the JourMS (Journal of Mother Studies), and the Annual Academic M.O.M. Conference each May in NYC. Those additions include the “I ❤ M.O.M. Conference” in February; featuring Arts, Academics, and Inspiration, and “A Night At The Museum” initiative on Air BnB, whereby guests will be able to spend a night at the Museum, and by summer 2017 we will offer non-profit residencies for writers, artists, and scholars in the area of mother studies.

As the Museum’s founder and director, I am modeling my commitment to this current exhibition space after Eleanor Morse (among others). Eleanor helped to co-found the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg circa 1982 after her (and her husbands’) personal collection of Dali paintings spawned what is now arguably one of the centerpieces of St. Petersburg’s cultural landscape. Let the good work continue. ~ M. Joy Rose (website)

**Read more about my commitment to the Tampa Bay area: Feminism, Football, and Family [Article LINK]

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

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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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Of My Body/Of the Land and More…. [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

mama n.15Anna Hultin is a wife, mother-to-be and artist who lives in Loveland, Colorado. After receiving her BFA from Colorado State University she opened Gallery Nine-Seventy in Loveland where she a Director and Curator. Always inspired by children and their art, she also creates art curriculum for homeschool students. Anna’s artwork is exhibited locally and nationally, and she is excited to see how her new little one will influence and affect her work.

Of My Body/Of the Land

There is a profound beauty in the correlation between the way my body grows and sustains life and the way our land does the same. This intertwining of land, body and life is the topic of the landscape drawings that make up the project, Of the Land. Each drawing focuses on different ways that the cycles of our land cultivate connection and relationship. Every cycle in our landscape lives in relationship to another process. New growth is birthed through wildfire. The dead sleep of winter breeds new life in the spring. No cycle or growth can exist without relationship to another process or being, just as my child only can grow and exist within my own body full of its own processes and cycles during his first months of life. From this interdependence a deep ineffable relationship is formed. These drawings seek to put an image around something unnamable and intangible; the bond of mother and child.

On new routes, new life, new lines
the build is
life from me
life sustained by my body
life without me–being of its own
You are built from me but you will grow out of me
The beauty I want to see is no longer my own
I am the soil, you the tree

mama 15

Blind Date   

by Samina Najmi

At twenty-one, my mother has striking eyebrows—expansive, dark, and gently converging.  Lush like Lalmonirhat’s hills that cradle the white colonial building she calls home.  My father sees her for the first time during the wedding ceremony, reflected in a mirror.  His heart beats easier at the sight of her light-skinned face, her downcast eyes, and still lips which have never been painted before this night.  But the fine hair that rims those lips, and especially those eyebrows, so bold, so black, and sharply angled make him unsure of his ability to keep her.  Throughout their 23-year-old marriage, my father will have a recurring nightmare in which another man carries his wife away.  (Until one does.) His howls will awaken the sleeping children.

A good Pakistani bride of the sixties, my mother doesn’t open her eyes to look upon her groom’s face until the throng of geet–singing women in brilliantly hued, silk saris have ushered her to the bridal chamber.  They sit her down on a bed strewn with roses and gardenia, scooping the emerald silk of her flamboyantly flared pajama after her.  A paisley print of solid silver splashes across both the pajama and red tunic in provincial Bihari fashion—much to the bride’s dismay, who had hoped for something trendier from the stores of the big city where, she hears, the groom and his sister live together.  The singing women help her cross her left leg and bend the right one, resting her chin upon her knee.  They place her hennaed hands in a clasp around the knee–artfully, so that the bejeweled fingers of her right hand cover the shriveled left one that doesn’t open.  Adjusting her vermilion-and-gold dupatta over her head one last time, they exit, still singing of maiden temptresses and the fast-beating hearts of their suitors, satisfied to have staged just the right degree of bridal modesty and mystery.

When the groom and bride are finally alone, he lifts her veil of garlands as gently as he can.  A teeka with a single ruby at its center glimmers on her forehead, its tiny white pearls brushing against those startling eyebrows.  A fine hoop of gold, the bridal nose-ring she will never wear again.  The groom’s shapely hand reaches for her chin and tips it up from the knee, ever so slightly.  As if on cue, the bride opens her eyes.  She sees the slim, dark man her parents have chosen for her, an assistant professor of physics in faraway Karachi.  Her eyes take in the crisp white shervani collar that encircles his neck, the wedding turban he will never wear again.  The severe, pencil-thin moustache that restrains the generosity of his full lips.  She looks into his big, dark eyes and wonders at their melancholy.  And what she feels for him is not the heady passion of the romances she has secretly been writing.

The man seems kind, if remote, as virginal as she is, and they spend the night telling the stories on which their forevers will depend.  At twenty-nine, he already feels his life ebbing.  The bride doesn’t know yet how greedily death claimed his young parents.

In the bathroom she prays for love to grow in her heart.

About the Author:Samina Najmi

Samina Najmi is associate professor of English at California State University, Fresno. A scholar of race, gender, and war in American literature, she discovered the rewards of more personal kinds of writing in a 2011 CSU Summer Arts course. Her creative nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Progressive, Pilgrimage, The Rumpus, Gargoyle, Chautauqua, and other publications. Her essay “Abdul” won Map Literary’s 2012 nonfiction prize. Samina grew up in Pakistan and England, and now lives with her family in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

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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 Space in Between and a Leap of Faith [Click]

Art by Sophie Starzenski 

Project: The space in between
It always happens to me while seeing an image, a landscape, a moment… or just seeing something that I find difficult to explain, a situation that I find inexplicably beautiful. I’m not talking about the beauty of it’s colours or it’s shapes – I’m talking about something different. Something that resonates within us. That beauty depends on the observer, or you could say that it depends on the resonance of the receiver. With time, I could define it this way. Before I used to say what moved me to take certain photos was the space in between the matter.

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Leap of Faith
Deborah L. Blicher
From Mom Egg Review Vol. 13

The little boy I hope will become my son lines up his scuffed shoes on the edge of the sandbox, gauging the distance to the ground. It’s sixty degrees out, but like all the children I have seen in this Russian city, he’s overdressed to my American eye. Between his striped, knitted cap and puffy blue coat, I can hardly see his face. We speak different languages, but as far as I can tell, he hates me.

The boy, whose name in Misha, is two and a half, with feathery blond eyebrows and merry eyes. Four days ago, my husband Peter and I met him and his sister at their orphanage. The children smiled up at us in the entryway decorated with finger paintings. When their caregiver Anna introduced us–as friends, not yet as parents–they giggled and scrambled down the hall. Smitten, we followed. They rolled trucks at us across the living room carpet. We had a pretend tea-party on the floor and a real one at the table. When Misha vaulted onto the couch and unfurled his body into a magnificent headstand, Anna instructed him to come down. Like every two year old in the world, he refused, so she carried him to the time-out chair.

Over the last three days, the children have sought increasing intimacy with us: holding our hands, daring us to chase them, imitating our English. Yesterday, they ran down the hall in their socks to greet us with outstretched arms. This morning, however, our final visit, they seem subdued. Misha’s sister Katja gravely takes Peter’s hand and leads him to the playground sandbox. Misha doesn’t follow. I walk him to the jungle-gym, which he climbed yesterday with joyful grace. Today he climbs grudgingly. He lets his fingers slip and watches me catch him, and he squawks if I stand too close. I feel he’s wondering both, “Will you keep me safe?” and “Will you give me freedom?”

I decide to try the swing, which he loved yesterday. He faces away from me as I carry him and slumps with apathy when I push him. From behind the swing, I ask whether he’s all right: “Te harasho?”  He turns one round ear towards me but won’t reply. When I walk around to the front of the swing, he searches my face a long time.

Back at the sandbox, Peter and Katja have built a row of sandcastles. Peter is earnestly and slowly counting them for her in English. The expression on Katja’s sharp-chinned face suggests she’d like to have him committed. When I set Misha beside her, he turns his back on me and starts singing with a songbird’s loveliness. Then he extends a flattened palm and wipes out the sand-castle I’m building.

Finally I understand. Someone’s explained to the children that Peter and I want to adopt them, taking them away from the life they know. Misha is not angry with Peter because Peter won’t replace a father figure, but he’s angry with me because I’ll replace Anna, the only mother he knows.

His loss staggers me.

My instinct is to offer love and wait. I begin by heaping up sand-castles for him to smash.

He does.

Soon, it will be time for us to go inside. Peter and I will remove the children’s coats in the entryway and line up their shoes next to ours. We’ll share cake and tea. Katja will pour out pretend tea. Then Peter and I will sign documents stating our intention to adopt.

I stand up, brushing off sand. Peter scoops up Katja. Misha climbs onto the edge of the sandbox and gauges the distance to the ground. I don’t reach out to help him. I know he doesn’t trust me, the usurper.

He slides his eyes to me for a moment. I resist every urge. Then he puts his hand into mine, grips hard, and jumps.

Deborah L. Blicher is a Boston-area essayist, editor, and coach. Her work has appeared in Brain, Child; Lilith; and The Boston Globe Magazine. Her website (always in progress) is http://www.deborahblicher.org.

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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