Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 38th 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 #artandmotherhood

May 2019: Art by Casey Jenkins words by 

Art by Casey Jenkins – sMother 

sMother psychological-endurance artwork. Gendered assumptions, judgments and advice – whether meant to protect or to control – bind and confine those perceived to be ‘women of child bearing age’, paralysing us with fear and shame. Our identities are subdued and mummified in forced acquiescence by community expectations that preserve absurd gender roles.

At nearly 38yo and after two miscarriages in the previous year, Casey performed sMother, the final in a trilogy of performances exploring the restrictive nature of gendered expectations on those perceived to be ‘women of child-bearing age’.

Casey knitted daily over the course of a week with yarn drawn from their vagina, linking two common vut somewhat conflicting indicators of femininity; the vulva associated with women’s sexuality and reproduction, and knitting associated with elderly asexual women. As Casey knitted, audience members were invited to activate a four channel, 28 track soundscape of advice and commentary regarding ‘women of child-bearing age’, reflecting the judgments of diverse commentators from lounge-room analysts to Donald Trump. By activating the sound montages, the audience was complicit in mirroring and perpetuating the cacophony of gendered judgments that strengthen patriarchal control.

Casey absorbed the relentless barrage while creating a knitted length that grew over the course of days into a rope that bound and distorted their body – travelling from the popular ‘serene pregnant woman’ fable to something more representative of the lived experience of those perceived to be ‘women of child bearing age’, involving discomfort, fear, frustration and claustrophobia. Each stitch may be seen as a mark of acquescence to the absurdity of gender expectations – an acquiescence that at first may comfort and shield, but soon distorts, binds and restricts.

More about Casey

Casey Jenkins (b. 1979, Melbourne, Australia) is currently a Master of Contemporary Art student at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Jenkins is an installation and durational/community-engagement performance artist. Combining tactility with technology, craft with performance, her work ranges from minimalist solo durational performances to pieces that deliberately toy with (and aim to redefine) power structures via street art and experimental group performance. Recent works have been shown at the Venice International Performance Art Week,  London Science Gallery, Mother Art Prize group show at Mimosa House London, and SomoS Art House, Berlin.

Words by Amy Watkins – ‘Learning the hard Way’

I feel for the door-to-door evangelists,

the Jehovah’s Witnesses, women in long skirts

and blue-gray sweaters, and the pairs

of handsome, clean-cut Mormon boys,

one always more shy than the other, holding

a stack of books and a bicycle helmet

under one arm. They are eager and

lovely, and even I don’t invite them in.

My mother did when I was a child, because

she too felt called to witness. The seventh-day.

The second coming. Everything that made us

strange. She took out her Bible, its leather cover

worn as a pair of work gloves, and listened

to them expound their faith in the kind of earnest voices

movie actors reserve for speeches like, Please believe

me: an asteroid is on a collision course

with Earth. Her response was apologetic,

almost embarrassed; for every verse they quoted,

she knew two. I recognized the doubt soaking in,

the frustration. Still, they squared their shoulders.

No one wants to fall for the smooth sales pitch,

the telemarketer’s call, the good news of the pamphlet

the glassy-eyed woman’s hand. Whatever truth

there is, we want to find it for ourselves

like the ultimate rummage sale bargain.

Believe me, you can’t tell us anything.

More about Amy Watkins

Amy Watkins is the author of the chapbooks Milk & Water, Lucky, and Wolf Daughter (coming soon from Sundress Publications). She lives in Orlando with her husband and daughter and a mean-spirited ginger cat. Find her online at RedLionSq.com or @amykwatkins.