MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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M.A.M.A. 37- Clipping the Church and a Measure of Grace

Art by Tereza Buskova – ‘Clipping the Church’

In many cultures, even today, new mothers and their infants are subject to a period of physical seclusion or confinement from the rest of the world. During this time, the support of relatives and the local community plays a vital role in sustaining the family by caring for the older children, providing food and completing chores typically carried out by the mother herself. It is hard to imagine now that things were not so different for the generation of our own great-grandmothers.

No longer restricted by this custom, women today enjoy the benefits of improved healthcare, education and childcare options, which grant them greater freedom than ever before. Yet the stigma and judgment that come with pregnancy and early motherhood linger, whereas support of the local community has all but disappeared over time. Today’s society too often adopts a patronizing, utilitarian attitude which blinds it to the particular needs of parents and families. As a consequence, many new mothers experience feelings of loneliness and isolation from their social networks, unknown to them before. Some feel actively ostracised and judged when they should be encouraged and cherished.

Clipping the Church is a project based on an old English tradition in which parishioners ‘clip’ their local place of worship with hands and bodies and sing songs of a celebratory nature. The overarching aspect of this custom is inclusiveness and Buskova married it with the representation of motherhood expressed by the act of baking and sharing baked goods with family, friends and anonymous members of the community.

Dressed in traditional Czech outfits, ornate with sensuous red ribbons and elaborate baked accessories, two women lead a procession via Erdington’s High Street. Their white skirts are decorated with flowery patterns and bunched around their hips, emphasizing the connection with nature and its fertility.  The work subtly harks back to the history of Erdington, which remained a rural area until recent times. Accompanied by two young girls and followed by a simple wooden frame made of celestial crust (sugary pastries based on an old Czech recipe) topped by a small figurine of Virgin Mary and carried on men’s shoulders, the procession was joined by a multinational crowd, old and young. All precincts vanished for the duration of the performance and the lively chatting was underscored by accompanying cello music performed by Bela Emerson, resulting in a festive atmosphere that resonated within the surroundings.

One of the most moving and symbolically saturated moments of the procession took place upon its arrival at St Barnabas Church’s gate. There, Frieda Evans, the parish priest and the artist invited the crowd to ‘clip’ the church. Despite its overarching religious connotations, the act of forming a circle around the church added a universal dimension to this Christian custom. The church, decorated all the way around with sourdough bread in elaborate shapes hanging on red ribbons from the building’s façade, echoed the human bonds created around the church. Prepared by Buskova and the community members, this simple bake became a gesture of kindness and generosity. With the act of sharing and consuming the celestial crust, ‘Clipping the Church’ was finalized. The custom was reinvented, becoming not English, not Czech, but an inclusive community act.

Image credits: 

Erdingtonia Series, Tereza Buskova 2016
Image Size 21×15 cm
Archival inkjet print with gold screenprint overlays
Edition number 20 + 4AP’s

More about the artists: 

Tereza Buskova (b.1978, Prague) completed her Fine Art Printmaking MA at the Royal College of Art in 2007. Her intuitive practices capture and renew Czech folk traditions through a combination of film making, screen printing and performance. Buskova’s work has been exhibited at Rituals, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2008);  A Tradition I Do Not Mean To Break, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2009);  Rituals Are Tellers Of Us, Newlyn Art Gallery, UK ( 2013); and Reality Czech: the Czech Avant-Garde, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2015. She has exhibited, performed and lectured in a broad range of different spaces including Lincoln’s Chambers Farm Wood (2010), Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2014), and Erdington High Street, UK (2016).

The Mom Egg Review – Words
Measure of Grace
by Caitlin Grace McDonnell

The longest person’s eyelashes were ten inches,
or maybe six. I think 8. She lived in China,
my daughter tells me, who is nine, like the youngest soccer coach, in Barcelona, which,
she says, is the best. The length of your integrity
is directly correlated to your forearm in prayer.
If you want to be seen as a woman, wear a string
of pearls. If you want to be seen as everything,
make yourself scarce. Math is comforting, my
daughter says, because the answers are clear.
Meanwhile, the length of time between school
shootings decreases at a rate comparable
to the disappearance of the words “climate change”
from government documents. Or the disappearance
of ice in the Arctic sea, or honeybees from warm
habitats. Yesterday, Sudan, the last Northern White
Rhino was put down in Kenya. The buds that bloom
beneath my daughter’s breasts are harder than
I remember on my own body, my own breasts,
whose alveoli no longer make milk. If you squint
at two women, they can almost be one.

Caitlin Grace McDonnell was a New York Times Poetry Fellow at NYU, where she received her MFA. She has published a chapbook, Dreaming the Tree (belladonna books, 2003) and a book, Looking for Small Animals (Nauset Press, 2012). Her poems, essays and book reviews have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Salon, Washington Square, Chronogram and more. She teaches writing in Brooklyn, NY, where she lives with daughter, Kaya Hope.

MAMA_Logo_2015

The Museum of Motherhood, the ProCreate Project, the Mom Egg Review, and the Mother Magazine are pleased to announce the launch of a bi-monthly international exchange of ideas and art. M.A.M.A. will celebrate the notion of being “pregnant with ideas” in new ways. This scholarly discourse intersects with the artistic to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between the creative, the academic, the para-academic, the digital, and the real, as well as the everyday: wherever you live, work, and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. Download the Press Release here or read about updated initiatives#JoinMAMA  @ProcreateProj  @MOMmuseum @TheMomEgg

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MAMA: Art Interview with Mother Artist Carla Danes; Poetry by Hannah Brockbank [LINK]

A VISIT WITH CARLA DANES:

I want to share an artist love story. This goes back twenty-something years. When I lived in SoHo, New York in a funky six-flight walk-up loft, there was an amazing woman who took care of toddlers in her home on Crosby Street. After having my first, and then my second baby, I was desperate for some childcare and also I was hungry to network with other neighborhood creative-types. One of my friends put me in touch with Carla Danes of “Crosby Kids” and the rest, as they say, is her-story. Carla and her husband Chris, both artists, continued to live, work, and care for children while making art in Manhattan until empowering their daughter, Claire Danes to move to Los Angeles to pursue work as an actress. Carla and I were now on opposite coasts but we stayed in touch. I was lucky enough to visit her studio recently, which is part of a sprawling collection of gardens, outbuildings, and even a yurt in Santa Monica, California. It was wonderful spending time together again. Carla, Chris and I talked feminism, families, and mother-made art whilst sitting around their kitchen table, sipping juice, and appreciating the beauty of life’s grand arch. Below is a segment from an interview with ARTPOST featuring Carla Danes and a few of the photos I took during my trip.

Carla Danes and Joy Rose

Carla Danes Art

ARTPOST INTERVIEW:

Yes! I see myself as this middle-class lady who was taught by my mother and my grandmother and by every magazine in the house about taste and fashion. So I like to play with that; art about what is fashionable, about what’s tasteful and what is art. This goes back to the idea that women have always been allowed to make art at home. Rich women painted ceramic cups and did needlework. Poor women made mittens, hats or quilts. But women have always been allowed to work at home. My work is an extension of that female territory and expanding on it.

I was in my twenties at the height of the Feminist Movement. Now women are allowed to go to college and they are out of the house. Women will buy a couch— big things for the house like bathroom fixtures. But we don’t buy our own jewelry. Sometimes we buy flowers for ourselves, but certainly, we don’t collect art—the men do. Our opinion is considered, but we are rarely the art buyers in the family. Ultimately, I’d like to make art for women to feel safe with. I mean it’s a joke. We have more women than men in many art departments. We have curators, teachers, art makers—but we don’t buy art? This is crazy. See the full article ARTPOST article here [LINK].

*Carla donated one of her prints to the Museum of Motherhood. Make an appointment today for a tour to see our latest collection. Write: info@MOMmuseum.org

Carla Danes Art

POETRY AT MOM WITH HANNAH BROCKBANK

Since I’ve embraced the opportunity to “go personal” this November, I am also happy to share some of the wonders of hosting poet Hannah Brockbank as part of the Museum of Motherhood’s Residency Program. Hannah has been here for two weeks studying the contents of the museum and making use its library. This has been grand opportunity to spend time engaged in serious discussion about everything mother. We first met briefly in-person at the ProCreate event in London over the summer after he accepted to the Residency. Since that time, we’ve wandered the grounds, explored St. Pete. watched the movie Momz Hot Rocks, perused books about mother studies, and of course Facetimed with her kids. It’s been a blast. I’m going to miss Hannah when she goes back to England! ~ Martha Joy Rose

This from Hannah:

I am a mother, writer, and Ph.D. student from England. My creative Ph.D at the University of Chichester involves the creation of a new book-length collection of matrifocal poems exploring my experience of mothering. Whilst at the Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M.), I’ve been able to research matrifocal narratives, but also use M.O.M’s excellently curated collection of books, exhibits, art, and photographs (including Procreate Project’s Photozine Archive) as inspiration for my writing. Having time to write without the interruption of family life, has meant I have been very productive, and I look forward to spending my last days at M.O.M. focussing on my creative writing.

One of the first poems I wrote was inspired by an exhibit of a breast and uterus offering. The card by the exhibit read, ‘Uterus and breast offering from Fatima, Portugal to be offered to the Virgin Mary.’ I found this to be a very powerful image and I immediately began to consider my experiences of fertility and wanting to conceive.

It took 6 months to become pregnant with my first daughter and during part of that time, my husband and I visited Japan. We saw many temples and shrines, including the Site of Enazuka – a placenta mound which contained the afterbirth of Tokugawa Ienobu (1662-1712) the Sixth Shogun of Japan. There were many white and vivid pink azaleas, elegant buildings, and copper coloured carp in the ponds. Everything was blooming and coming alive. I also remember the many women who walked along the paths between the azaleas, towards a thick plume of incense where they cupped the smoke with their hands and drew it to their bellies and prayed.

Hannah_NotebookI’ve carried this image with me for six years knowing it was a significant one, but wanted to find the right moment, and inspiration to use it. It was wonderful to commit it to paper. For me, most poems begin as a strong image. I then unpick images on the page. This can sometimes take the form of a sketch, a mind-map or sometimes, as in this case, in note form:

As you can see, I pay no attention to neatness, grammar, or punctuation at this stage. It’s really about getting the image committed to paper. I then include as many of the senses as possible, sight, smell, touch etc. Once I’m satisfied with that, I may add research. For example, the phytotomy of an azalea flower. Interestingly, at this point I start to find connections, or what I like to call ‘serendipitous moments’, where relationships between words, images, and idioms make happy alliances. Truthfully, this doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it feels rather special.

I then start to free-write, beginning to shape sentences into lines, carefully considering the placement of line ends, internal rhyme, and structure. As the poem is continually redrafted and workshopped, it becomes tighter and stronger.

Below is my first draft which has been given the work in progress title of ‘Nezu Shrine’. I will let it ‘compost’ for a week before redrafting. After that, the poem will be emailed to my workshop group in England, where I will receive feedback. I will make any amendments necessary and then send it to a publisher for their consideration.

NEZU SHRINE (Work in Progress)

You pinch a lace bug
from the underside

of a white azalea.
Pearls of pollen

drop from its stamen
and fill the creases

of your busy hands.
And later,

you take my hand
and lead me

passed a pond
of copper carp,

(their swollen bellies
visible from the surface),

to a shrine.
You clap

your hands twice
then cup and guide

the blue smoke
from smouldering

incense
to my empty belly.

By Hannah Brockbank

Happy writing!

Hannah

MAMA_Logo_2015

The Museum of Motherhood, the ProCreate Project, the Mom Egg Review, and the Mother Magazine are pleased to announce the launch of a bi-monthly international exchange of ideas and art. M.A.M.A. will celebrate the notion of being “pregnant with ideas” in new ways. This scholarly discourse intersects with the artistic to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between the creative, the academic, the para-academic, the digital, and the real, as well as the everyday: wherever you live, work, and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. Download the Press Release here or read about updated initiatives#JoinMAMA  @ProcreateProj  @MOMmuseum @TheMomEgg

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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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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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Really Gross Stuff & Poetry for Grandmothers [Link]

12946834_10153534282996616_1955056335_o

Artist: Minna Dubin #MomLists

Each list is handwritten on a 4×6 card. A layer of bright decorative paper is placed over it and the two are sewn together across the top. The act of making—cutting, sewing, hand writing, stamping—then feeling the tangible, finished product in my hands is a relief. Each piece is a clearly laid-out goal—the opposite of the uncertain nature of raising a child. The lists dangle from ribbons in public spaces (coffee shops, laundromats, community centers) looking like flattened gift bags, waiting for strangers to stumble upon them. #MomLists requires interaction. Readers must lift the pretty exterior to access the gritty, vulnerable list underneath.

The project began in March 2015, 2 years after I gave birth to my son, as an attempt to make sense of (and peace with) my new “Mom” identity. Motherhood can feel isolating. Social media, our modern-day connector, is a barrage of happy mom-and-tot selfies. I am not living that picturesque motherhood life, and my suspicion is: neither is anyone else. In search of an alternative motherhood narrative, #MomLists lifts the societal surface of motherhood and exposes a messier, more resonant truth.

#MomLists adds to conversations about motherhood by expressing feelings most moms don’t talk about in a public way. The writing is both personal and universal. This is clear in the conversations #MomLists stirs online. The project title, stamped at the bottom of each list, contains a hashtag to suggest: “This is a conversation. Go online, join in!” Each time a list is posted in the real world, it also goes up on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Moms share the posts and even contribute their own lists or make list requests. LINK

12935374_10153534283071616_527868525_nBABYSITTING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE OLDER GRANDPARENT From MER Vol. 13

By Judy Kronenfeld

Swiftly retie your grandson’s sneakers while he insists I do it
myself! Snuggle him into
the car seat, and buckle it
(don’t awkward-angle that doddery knee!), give him plush pup and his sippy cup
and whisk him from day-care lickety-split singing wheels
of the bus wheels of the bus,
saying yes! to every gleeful TRUCK! while the leaves blaze gold
and crisp and drop
without a sound, without
a sound, and a muster of crows
flaps over the trees.
Praise the tiny tupperware cups
you must fill with raisins or
teddy grahams, and praise the lunch-box you have to find,
and the bedtime story you have to
read, and the desperate cries
for a third from the crib, Snowy Day!
Snowy Day!, before the child plummets
to sleep.
Praise falling into the guest bed, exhausted, with granddad, exhausted, who ran repeatedly to the slide in the playground
to grab the flame-cheeked, careening boy, and cleaned and diapered
the fusser’s bottom and hustled him
into nighttime footies, and hunted down that rascal blue cow.
Praise sleepy caressing
and sleepy forgetting warm flesh
will be ash, and gravity rules,
and granddad’s beating heart’s precarious,
when nothing’s
the matter
In the Night Kitchen,
or anywhere.

Judy Kronenfeld’s most recent books of poetry are Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012) and the second edition of Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths (Antrim House, 2012), winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her poems have appeared in many print and online journals (such as Calyx, Cimarron Review, Natural Bridge, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sequestrum, The Pedestal), and in eighteen anthologies. http://judykronenfeld.com.

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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.

PicsArt_1454280051676

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