Mother Artist/Artist Mother

by Mindy on May 31, 2012

One wonderful part about running an art project about motherhood is that people understand when my job as a mother has to take priority over my job as an artist. Last week, Micah was very sick with a nasty bacterial infection, and I couldn’t attend the workshop. If I had been running it by myself, I would have had to cancel it. Luckily, Lisa was leading that week, and I was able to stay home and take care of the baby.

This week, the women were deep into making their good mother dolls —it’s been a more involved, time consuming process than we originally thought, but the participants are really into it. The workroom was a buzz of activity, as mothers sewed, hammered and glued to create their image of the ideal mother. One thing that feels a little different this time is that I haven’t been able to contribute as a participant as much as I have in the past. With this segment of the workshops, I’m helping people the whole time, which is great, but in the past I think it was nice that I also was able to make something and be part of the larger conversation.

At the end of the session, Cathy led some improvisational singing around the good mother tune that we’ve been playing with. Women were invited to sing about their dolls in progress, and we all harmonized together on the chorus.

Next week, the women will finish up their dolls, we’ll do more music, and I’ll start photographing. My original idea was to have the women set up scenes with miniatures and their dolls, but I’m not sure it’s going to work, because the scale of the two is so different. I was mulling over other portrait ideas, perhaps shooting the women with their dolls, or shooting short videos of them talking about the dolls. Either way, it’s good for me to remember that this is arts-based research, and that these pilot sessions are about trying out ideas and seeing what develops.

I’m very relieved that I’m not doing a final production right now. I’ve done some large projects in very short time frames, and while I can pull it off, it sometimes comes at the expense of the process as well as my sanity. Especially because I’m also taking care of a nine-month old, right now the relaxed nature of these workshops is suiting me perfectly.

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