MOM Art Annex: Exhibition & Education Center

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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

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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

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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.

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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]

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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

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Year End Report [CLICK]

Thank You To Our Friends, Supporters, and Partners

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

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

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

Together we are creating our future today!

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

A M/OTHER MOVEMENT FOR THE MASSES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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