The ProCreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 15th 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 everyday: wherever you live, work, and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. #JoinMAMA

March 1, 2016 Anna Hultin and Samina Najmi

Art by Anna Hultin

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

More about the artist:

Anna 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.

Words by Samina Najmi

Blind Date

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.
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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