Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 44th 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

March 2021: Art by Alexis Soul-Gray, Poetry by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Art by Alexis Soul-Gray

Alexis’s practice is concerned with loss, memory and grief. Speculative questioning about the memorial, memory and commemoration brings together a conjecture of imagery taken from personal and public archival materials. Through painting, collage and print the artist defaces and rearranges found images and objects. Soul-Gray explores themes of loss and grief with a particular focus on the trauma caused by the loss of the mother figure, questioning notions of domestic success and the cuteness inherit in memory, she uses destruction and abrasion to physically manipulate and alter found images in order to find new realities, a calm after a storm…a final resting place that cannot be reached. 

I work on canvas, linen, wood and paper. I have recently been drawn to salvaged found paper ephemera such as vintage embroidery transfers, bible pages, knitting patterns, objects of beauty and magazines/books that give advice/ instruction for domestic success. I often work in layers, deliberately interrupting images through overlap/obstruction as an attempt to create a visceral representation of the thought process. Abstraction and figuration hold equal significance. Images are continuously intersecting, abrasive, harmonious, removed…a tangible manifestation of a multi-layered interior state.

Untitled, Oil on Wood Panel

I am interested in the stillness found in studio shot images of children and women, floristry, knitting and antiques. Almost like puppets and dolls in play, I take them on a journey of change and exploration. These images were not designed to be used in paintings, their intended use was cheap printed instructional material and quickly forgotten books. Many of the images I work with date from the 1930’s-1980’s, they represent personal ancestry, collective histories, traditions and loss.

More about Alexis:

Alexis Soul-Gray is a visual artist based in Devon, UK. Her practice sits predominantly within painting, drawing and printmaking but also includes assemblage, photography and film. Alexis studied at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell College of Art, has completed the postgraduate year at The Royal Drawing School and later this year will start her MA in Painting at The Royal College of Art after 10 years of primarily caring for her two daughters. Alexis has worked in Arts education for 17 years and currently holds a lecturing role in Devon. She has also worked as  a curator, producing 3 large scale art events in unusual settings including an old village post office in rural Oxfordshire, the vaults of an Elizabethan mansion in Epping Forest and an inner city folly standing adrift, lost in Birmingham city centre, built in memory of the land owners deceased wife.

Poetry by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Mother Song

Had I sky enough, had I sea, I’d pour
that blue back into you, my second hearts.
Each dawn brings a symphony of swallows mud-nested in the eaves. A reckoning:
what dulls can shine out, have you wings and lungs.

In this house of loss and shadow, we mass
the store of what we’ve learned: Even winter-
bare buckeyes will green and bloom out. Hawks
will nest in ribbons of air. The monarch
butterflies will shock our eyes with orange wing.

More about Iris:

Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the author of three poetry collections, including Interrupted Geographies (Trio House Press, 2017). Her biography about Charmian Kittredge London, Jack London’s wife was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2020. She was the Poet Laureate of Sonoma County from 2016-2018. She teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.