Artist Residency in Motherhood Weekly Progress Report.
Today ends the fifth week of my Artist Residency in Motherhood and I locked myself in the bathroom.
The lock down has hurtled me back to my postpartum experience. The constant “tension between independence and dependence, between self-assertion and self-abnegation and between love and hate” is overwhelming. (p.11, Parker)
Weekend goal: re-read Mother Love /MotherHate by Rozsika Parker.
The difference between lock down and postpartum is that now my child can assert herself and express her identity in opposition to mine verbally.
Redemption is in the fact “that conflicts generated by maternal ambivalence are potentially creative.” (preface, Parker)
In the studio this week—–
Playing with text collage, quote by Aeon.
Dryer lint paper continued. Laying damp paper over bodily care objects to create ghostly sculptures. Mother/Daughter pairs.
Knitting continued. Working on creating a body size piece of knitting that I will use to scrub the floor.
My Artist Residency in Motherhood just got extended by order of Oregon Governor Brown last night.
The Residency was supposed to end in May when my daughter returned to school. She will no longer be returning for the rest of the year. I honestly do not know how I feel about this yet.
I feel like I should panic or I’m supposed to be panicking… but also I’ve actually really enjoyed our time at home this week (as opposed to last week when it was not so great).
There I said it! (wipes sweat from forehead) Life is actually pretty good right now.
Except… I am running out of paper. Not toilet paper, just paper. My local art store where I buy my paper in bulk is closed and I have been feverishly making grids and dots soooo… its almost gone.
Finding a solution to this predicament brings me back four years when I was making recycled paper at my in home childcare. We would take all those construction paper art projects the kids did, throw them in a blender and press the pulp onto a screen. The kids loved this.
I ended up doing this on my own with my discarded art projects and laying the still wet paper over some of the childcare toys, creating ghostly sculptures when the paper dried. After about 6 months of making paper like nothing else existed I stopped. I got interested in something else.
And now you know what I struggle with in my art practice. I get bored. I explore and then move on. (Or maybe this is just a challenging aspect of my personality- I get really excited about one thing and then when I have exhausted that excitement I move on.)
This quarantine may feed into that in the sense that I may run out of materials to continue on one path but it may also challenge this tendency.
Because life is so constant now and there is no where to go- I am forced to be still and work at a slower pace.
Enjoy a video of our Shelter In Place pillow fort efforts. (turn the sound on and watch to the end!)
Aeon and I are planning to participate in Shelter In Place, a collaborative photography project by artist Joey Fauerso asking participants to build pillow fort shelters and photograph the results. The project is happening in conjunction with New Mexico State University Art Museums exhibition, Labor: Motherhood & Art in 2020.
The exhibition was cut short when the Museum had to close due to COVID-19. The Museum is now offering a series of online programs entitled ALONE/TOGETHER associated with this awesome exhibition. Shelter In Place is one of these programs. The images sent in will be exhibited online and eventually in a print poster.
OK, some rules and structure need to be laid down.
And this is where I lay my forehead on my computer.
Time seems very fluid right now in these extraordinary circumstances. There are no beginnings and endings, there are just three people and two cats in a 500 square foot house.
Structure in any form is now completely reliant upon my individual will. This fact is both freeing and crippling. It’s that feeling when there is too much to watch on Netflix and you just keep scrolling for hours because you cannot decide. (This happens mostly to my partner, I have a harder time with 52 flavor ice cream shops.)
I acknowledge that I am extremely privileged that time and the decision of what to do with it is my biggest struggle in the global pandemic crisis experience. This brings about it’s own anxiety- what am I doing that is worthwhile? Am I using my position of privilege in the best way during this time I have?
So Residency Hours?
The studios (500 square foot house) are available to the residents 24/7.
They are open to the public via virtual documentation M-F 7am to 8pm.
There I did it! I exercised my will and created structure. Small victories are important folks.
Some photos of weekend studio progress…
Collaboration with Aeon: Creative Kids DIY video tutorial series, click the photo to view.
Note: This M-F morning blog post is a real time documentation of my thoughts on the Artist Residency in Motherhood that I am participating in during the COVID-19 lock downs.
To learn more about the Artist Residency in Motherhood visit Lenka Clayton’s site HERE.
I put my hand up to her nose to feel her breath and reassure myself that I have kept her alive for one more day.
While I have always done this, as an Artist Resident in Motherhood I have decided to document it.
(As I write this my daughter is very calmly putting butterfly wings on me, instructing me where to put my arms between words.)
My documentation will be a nightly sketch of her nose and/or mouth in the dark.
My Mother Bear anxiety that compels me to check my daughter’s breath is heightened, as I am sure yours is, by the COVID-19 pandemic. In my postpartum period I had intense visions of terrible situations my daughter could be in and how I would save her. Situations like kidnapping, natural disasters, or zombie apocalypse. It could happen at any moment and was like a movie playing before my eyes. I called them my Mama Bear visions. This would often happen while I was walking with her strapped to my chest in a baby wrap and I would stop for a moment and when it passed I would just keep going.
In this real life Mama Bear vision that hasn’t ended yet I am paused and taking daily documentation of my child’s well being so that when it is over I can keep going.
I have known about Lenka Clayton’sArtist Residency in Motherhood since 2015 when my daughter was 2 years old and I had the sudden urge to make art again. I read every book, article or blog post about art and motherhood I could find and somewhere in there was this intriguing idea- to re-frame the space of motherhood and the domestic as an Artist Residency.
In addition to being the mother of a 2 year old I was an in home childcare provider, caring for four other toddlers and financially supporting the entire household. It was stressful, I was not OK. So I created an Artist in Residence at Preschool for myself.
I hung large pieces of white paper on the walls of my home/childcare. Every time I had to take away a toy that was being fought over I traced it on the wall. Every meal the small humans did not finish I blended up into “ink” and screen printed onto the wall. I threw their loads of construction paper artwork into blenders and remade paper. (I did this to all their snotty tissues too!)
That residency saved my sanity.
Fast forward to three weeks before the closures started to go down. I was let go from my job in local food production and had decided to finally try to start a career as an Artist. For three weeks I worked in my home studio for FIVE UNINTERRUPTED HOURS A DAY while my 6 year old was at school. It was blissful.
Then schools closed and my momentum vanished. Then everything closed and the reality of the situation set in.
It is stressful and I am NOT OK. So… I am intentionally re-framing this time at home as an Artist Residency in Motherhood.