The ProCreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 9th 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

NOVEMBER, 15TH: HOME IN/OUT BY RUCHIKA WASON SINGH and BURST by Kristin Procter

Art:

Home In/Out (2010) by Ruchika Wason Singh

Presenting my works from the project Home In/Out for this M.A.M.A. issue makes me introspect about my art and its intuitive process. From the vantage point of an artist-mother, I am now at a stage of reflection. The exercise of relooking, sorting and selecting the works for the presentation is a departure from exercising my dual identity in creating my work, to utilizing it for re-searching its creative implications. It has brought me to ask myself a question (which, during the process of creation, was superseded by the spontaneity of emotive expression). How has motherhood impacted my art process? It is with this in mind that I look back at my project Home In/Out.
My identity as an artist-mother (or mother-artist) has deeply influenced my art. Perhaps its most important role has been to generate maternal emotions within me and the need to creatively express these at the same time. This is obvious from the fact that often, the stages of my life and the phases in my art have run parallel to each other. Pregnancy and motherhood created room, first for embodied experience, and then for physical and emotional interactions with my daughter Meher. Each stage brought some or all of the experiences of anticipation, curiosity, ecstasy and anxiety. It introduced my ‘biological other’ (my daughter) in my life, because of whom I have had to find a new equilibrium in my identity. For instance, while mothering, the artist in the mother occasionally struggled to find time for making art. At other times, the mother in the artist emerged as a fount for contextual and visual resources for artistic creation. Motherhood thus created a ground for experiences which were both physiological and emotional, obvious yet mysterious, all of which needed a release.
Post-pregnancy, the home became the site for a constantly evolving maternal performance in the everyday, and this began to evolve as a subject matter in my art too. The joys and anxieties of mothering Meher started surfacing as artistic concerns, thematically and often materially. In Home In/Out the binaries of the inside and the outside allude to the ‘home’ within and outside the body of the mother, though I am primarily concerned with the latter. At the same time it also deals with the idea of the home within the domestic space and the social space beyond it. Beyond the womb and the placenta, the exterior space in the larger world is the new ‘home’: the domestic and the social space, in which the relationship with the biological other is established, constructed and evolved. This new home outside of the mother’s body (mine) becomes a region of care that is naturally nurturing, and also subject to socially and culturally constructed maternal anxieties; to which the mother in the artist (in me) responds and the artist in the mother (in me) re-responds. Questions and concerns related to the upbringing and welfare of my daughter which confronted me during care giving, nurturing and feeding, were transmuted into an artistic quest, leading to drawings in conté and charcoal, etchings, oil paintings and installations with found objects. The anxieties of mothering a daughter hence re-emerge in literally different forms; the vulnerability of the girl child becomes a central question in art as in life.
Mothering also blurred the boundaries of the studio and home, making mothering and art creation seem intertwined. This happens, for instance, in installations where the act of procuring groceries, and that of procuring art materials, blur into one another, as rice grains, cooking ladles, spices and containers from the kitchen (amongst other materials) become testimonies for my maternal emotions (which I sought to route through cooking and feeding), as well as a re-creation of maternal memories. Apart from their daily, utilitarian function, the objects now perform a (different sort of) creative function, which, nevertheless, also harks back to their original meaning. Therefore, these objects serve as actual, physical metonymies expressing the relationship between my daughter and me. In other artworks, forms from Meher’s kindergarten and pre-teen years, such as candies, alphabets and Barbie dolls, metamorphosed into botanical forms; through them, I celebrated the new ‘girly’ world of my daughter, while also perhaps reliving my own past as a young girl.
Motherhood thus gave me the privilege to question, re-imagine and perceive anew the world I inhabit, through sharing it with my daughter. Her presence in my life has helped evolve both the artist and the mother in me.

WORDS:
BURST by Kristin Procter

I

There is a skill of precision required in judging the right moment to twist the tap, and stop the flow of water stretching the bulbous balloon to its limit. Too little liquid and the ammunition will roll, dry and harmless, belly up in the grass – dud. Too much pressure and the little rubber ring that kisses the tap will be torn from its pregnant womb, launching the attack on yourself – spurt.

II

In the eggshell tub, she floats her moon belly back over her knees to hero’s pose, head tipped to the sky, eating piano snowflakes with her persimmon cheeks and tomato tongue. She beckons her baby with body and breath. She opens; her fingers expand around the curve of his collapsible skull, as he breaks to the surface, erupting from water, to water, to arms.

III

Martha Stewart dismantles pomegranates online. She slices the sphere into two lobes, each of which in turn she cradles in her hand before swiftly striking the flesh with a large wooden mixing spoon. She insists this is not spanking, but as the tender red insides fall into a pile on the table, I can’t help but wonder how exactly Martha spanks.

IV

Dangling fingers like bait in a fish farm, she trawls for shimmer in her drawer of delicates. She pushes aside armpit high monthly mom pants. Her pinkie hooks a long forgotten key lime G-string, with a lace ruffle and history that quicken her pulse. She slips off her track pants and wiggles back into her sexuality. In front of the full length mirror, it is difficult to say which pops first, her eyes or the undergarments’ over-extended waistband. Either way, her hip stings and her ankles have been swallowed by a polyester green tree snake.

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