M.A.M.A. Issue n.50 - Martha Joy Rose and Helen Hiebert

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 50th edition of this scholarly discourse. Literature intersects with art 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 #artandmotherhood

Dec 2021: Art by Helen Hiebert words by Martha Joy Rose and

The Mother Tree

I want to write about mothers and trees. Roots and families. Art and love.

Last year our world appeared to be on fire. Headlines captured devastating events around the globe. From politics to pandemics, the news cycle, as well as our personal lives, were upended in so many ways. In the midst of one of many California blazes, a story about a redwood matriarch dubbed the Mother of the Forest in Santa Cruz, California caught my attention.

Mother of the Forest is one of the tallest trees in Santa Cruz Park. A symbolic womb at her core forms an 8 x 13 foot room, or a hobbit hole, or a sacred space — depending on your perspective.

I have become obsessed with trees.

Trees are a testimony to patience and resilience. They offer shelter, contribute to healthy ecosystems, and fight climate change. Redwoods protect and support each other as well as other sapling growth by creating family circles sprouted from the roots of a parent tree. These families may or may not be genetically related. These lessons in cooperation can be a metaphor for humanity in its current fragmented state.

 

One month ago, I headed back to the MOM Art Annex in Florida after a prolonged absence. Ready to explore the next steps with our community and see to the ongoing growth of the Museum project, I arrived energized. Rising in the midst of display artifacts, art, and birthing objects, a new exhibit towers in the heart of the Annex. Artist Helen Hiebert’s Mother Tree is a brilliant illuminated sculpture made of paper and thread on loan to us for the year.

In preparation for the Mother Tree’s arrival, I pursued the book Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard, a deeply inspiring tale of scientific discovery and maternal care. I pondered our new directions with the Museum of Motherhood and gladly welcomed a guest artist residency proposal by Polly Wood, which included constructing an empty nest as a ceremonial acknowledgement of her daughter going off to college.

“A nest,” I exclaimed. “How timely for the Mother Tree’s arrival.”

Polly and I spent a glorious two weeks spinning magic. A blog about her residency is online at MOM. The next guest artist arrives in mid-December with work featuring among other things, landscapes and trees in gorgeous muted watercolors.

As the year winds down, I gratefully acknowledge the manner in which I’ve been able to spend time with emerging mother artists here in St. Petersburg, and also family as well. My son, his wife, and their baby have been on-site for the last six weeks, crowded into the MOM Art Annex’s tiny space– along with the exhibits, myself, and visiting guests. My one-year old granddaughter crawls around the carefully childproofed perimeter while I proudly chase after her.

In these accompanying photos, I introduce my granddaughter to a world of female sheroes, the art of motherhood, and a variety of messages aimed at empowering women and girls. The images for this MAMA exhibit also include my own self-portrait surrounded by the Mother Tree’s yarn roots in a symbolic gesture of rebirth, renewal, and generational connection.

Every major tree metaphor reminds me to trust in the slow, yet, steady growth of the museum project. Good things take time. Like a redwood, we want the museum to stand as a testament to the ages. We want to collaborate with our community and our surroundings. These things develop and deepen slowly. We are the connection. We are the women. We are the love. We are the trees.

If you would like to donate to our Mother Tree acquisitions campaign, please consider helping us purchase the Mother Tree in perpetuity by making a tax-deductible donation here.

In gratitude and perseverance, Martha Joy Rose

More about Martha and Helen

Martha Joy Rose: Martha Joy Rose is a community organizer and Museum of Motherhood founder. Her work has been published across blogs and academic journals and she has performed with her band Housewives On Prozac around the world. She is the NOW-NYC recipient of the Susan B. Anthony Award, her Mamapalooza Festival Series has been recognized as “Best in Girl-Power Events”, and her music has appeared on the Billboard Top 100 Dance Charts. She founded the Museum of Motherhood in 2003, created the Motherhood Foundation 501c3 non-profit in 2005, saw it flourish in NYC from 2011-2014, and then pop up at several academic institutions. After teaching Mother Studies at the college level, she moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Her current live/workspace is devoted to the exploration of mother-labor & performance art while she oversees the continued growth of the Museum of Motherhood project.

Helen Hiebert: Helen Hiebert constructs installations, films, artists’ books and works in paper using handmade paper as her primary medium. Her sculpture Mother Tree serves as a symbol of the vulnerability, strength and sense of community she feels as a mother. The seven-foot tall handmade paper dress/tree features single strands of thread which extend from the bodice of the dress, representing mother’s milk, and cascade to the floor, transforming via crochet into roots which pile up, filling the surrounding space as a tree’s roots would fill the ground beneath it. The transformation from dress to tree and root to soil symbolizes the mother as a provider and nurturer throughout human development. Since her inception, hundreds of people have contributed to crocheting roots with messages of family, friendship, and affirmation.


M.A.M.A. Issue n.49 - Thatiana Cardoso and Lisa DeSiro

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 49th edition of this scholarly discourse. Literature intersects with art 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 #artandmotherhood

Oct 2021: Art by Thatiana Cardoso words by Lisa DeSiro

Art by Thatiana Cardoso

The images show the artist´s intentionality of constructing images that confuse the visual perception of the viewer. In the images, household items suggest parts of the human body. For the artist, object and human are in symbolic equivalence. Her photographic work aims to problematise the object as a living entity and investigate the way in which the viewer’s organism responds to these images.

Since 2013, I have explored the tension between strangeness and familiarity of everyday objects through photography, video, performance, and drawing. I investigate the approximations between the body and domestic utensils, showing the similarity with the human body. In my artwork, objects breath, pulsate, and are tortured. The process of torturing household items speaks of veiled, symbolic violence in relation to women.  My early research focused on some of the unusual aspects of the living objects, and on the intentionality of constructing images that confuse the visual perception of the viewer. I investigate deception as a poetic resource to create images that ask the viewer to be part of this aesthetic experience.

Words by Lisa DeSiro

Hooded

At the top step above the family room my mother appears, floating in mid-air, as if seated on an invisible chair. What she’s telling me is important. But her head is covered by a dark cloth, her face hidden. Please take that off, it’s distracting. No. She doesn’t have permission.

More about Lisa:

Lisa DeSiro is the author of Simple as a Sonnet (Kelsay Books, 2021), Labor (Nixes Mate Books, 2018), and Grief Dreams (White Knuckle Press, 2017). Her poetry has been widely published in anthologies and journals, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and set to music by several composers. Lisa is also an accomplished pianist and founder/host of the Solidarity Salon performance series. Read more about her at thepoetpianist.com.


M.A.M.A. Issue n.48 - Galit Criden

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 48th edition of this scholarly discourse. Literature intersects with art 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 #artandmotherhood

June 2021: Art by Galit Criden

Art by Galit Criden

Maternal as a Strategy What you’re going to do now?

The term ‘maternal’ has been pulsing through the academic and contemporary art worlds.  Contemporary art institutions seek to cultivate it; scholars write about it, and artists who become mothers are confronted by the concept.

A confession: it took me a long time to connect to the term maternal. Even after having my baby girl, the term still felt obsolete. The second time around, as a student at Goldsmiths Uni, I started to read about maternal organizations demanding equality and providing agency to those who mother the other. It became really fascinating when I began reading about how scholars, drag, trans and performance artists were trying to queer the maternal by liberating it by reframing language and traditional thinking about it. As they question the role of community in regard to care practices, open and share the act of mothering, rethink how the maternal can be at use in our society – I began to rethink my own values, production and artistic process, how I could collaborate and think about mother work differently. 

In a webinar hosted by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney held in July 2020, they respond to contemporary political and social disarray. As they note: “Differentiating ourselves through practice is not to identify or disidentify but to continue with the practice, asking questions that are supposed to produce movement and not paralysis.” Inspired by their conversation, the term maternal strategies bubbles up in my thinking. Could the maternal construct a discourse of change? Can it  be a strategy for others? And how we might use maternal strategies to reconstruct ourselves, our artistic spaces, words and our movement to politically vision a different kind of future?

In a constant dialogue with these ideas and questions, the different projects I choreograph allow people to go through a process of reflection-loss-re-imagination and yes sometimes it invites them to stay in boredom and uncertainty for a long long time. As the choreographer-the mama of these spatial performative attempts, I use maternal strategies to reorganize and to facilitate. I apply a maternal perspective (harmony, balance, sharing of space and resource), taking into consideration where the performance work is performed, the kind of cultural history it holds, the people who are performing and the kind of knowledge they hold. By facilitating a space that fundamentally recognizes differences in its rhythm, physical actions, social expectation, where there is no leader but a group of people sharing what they know, a space with no hierarchy between objects, bodies, sound, and audience – Is to my opinion a new kind of territory-form-sphere-strategy where alternative knowledge can evolve and new thoughts about people’s body, movement & freedom of choice can be learned.

Objects of Attention, ZAZ Performance Lewishan Arthouse, London. 2020.

‘Observation Room Project’ is a practice of slowing down, drawing its strength from the tension between the human subject and its surroundings. it takes into consideration the vital entanglements of one body with other kinds of bodies therefore is relational and maternal in its perspective. Slowness and durational are the two main methodologies through which I created ‘Observation Room’. in reaction to a rapid society, slowness is a way to counter fixed ideas of production, creative processes, individualism and many more. It enables “a listening”, perhaps even a “healing” space where the form is captured and new learning can happen.

Observation Room, Performance Confrence Jerusalem, Israel

In ‘Stardust’, I reflected on the working reality of artists & mother artists. By presenting this work at Christie’s [Auction House], Stardust showcased active mother artists as the work of art, while investigating the relationship between the viewer – the commodity of art – and the mother artist who produces it. In this performance, each mother artist was for sale. Next to her feet laid a description of who she is, what she does for a living.

Stardust, Christie's Auction House - Performing_ Rosalind Noctaor

In ‘Standing Still’, the relation between space, duration, and movement is intensely magnified, and the viewer is given the chance to enter another realm of consciousness and awareness. This event took place at the Wellcome Collection Museum. For one hour the performers invited the public to take part in standing still together – reflecting on what happens to the mind and body in a moment of stillness.

 Indeed, when maternal strategies are used and performed by artists they open a space to respond to the patriarchal system by offering different voices, movements and new images where an alternative reality can exist.

Although we cannot simply conserve the idea of maternal and maternal strategies only through observing a performance, a drag show, an image, or an exhibition, we can perhaps begin to accumulate, through deconstruction of words, participation in liminal spaces, sharing of invisible maternal experiences, acting with intention, recognizing M-others, maternal actions that mean so much to this society.

More about Galit:

Galit Criden is a choregrapher, mother, wanderer, and researcher.

She creates liminal spaces in transition as she moves between performative works- teaching dance within communities – researching slowness & maternal strategies within performance making as well as engaging in daily mother-work. She has experience in curating public art & culture programs.

Galit currently holds a BA in Visual Theater, BA in early education, MA in Contemporary Art Theory at the Department of Visual Culture, Goldsmiths University of London. Her dissertation focused on Maternal Strategies in Performance Making as a site for political and social change.

Based on theory and practice, Galit has initiated and facilitated over a dozen performative events which consist of performances, workshops, and intimate seminars to date, within the UK and internationally. such as ‘Stardust’, commissioned by BFAMI to perform at Christie’s Auction House In London, ‘Standing Still’ which was presented at Wellcome Collection Museum’, curated by Valerie Brown, Performatica Dance Festival (Puebla Mexico), The performance Conference (Jerusalem, Israel), Zaz Performance Art Festival (Tel Aviv, Israel) Group Exhibition, Lewisham Art House (London, England), Chisenhale Dance Space (London, England), Passion for Freedom Festival (London, England), Research residency  Performing arts forum (France), and her recent research project, ‘Songs of a Hostess’, an online series of performative webinars centering on body-knowledge in days of the pandemic, curated and facilitated with Laura Kirshenbaum, and ‘Time Lab’ research project, co-founded with Eynav Rosolio.