For some time now I have been giving a lot of thought as to how I could convey my feelings about motherhood through my art. My motherhood journey has been a fairly all-encompassing one as I made the choice to stay home with first my daughter and then my son. Now that both of my children are in school, my life, and my relationship to the two of them, has of course undergone yet another transformation. I knew that my past ten years of mothering and my entry into the next phase of this journey all have given me plenty to say, but I have struggled with finding my voice.
That all changed when I embarked on my recent series which I call “Marks of Motherhood.” I find that there is a tendency for mothers who are artists to focus only on the positive moments and feelings of motherhood. There is nothing wrong with this of course, and I myself have done just the same with the pieces that I have made that have been inspired by my children. But it seems to me that to ignore the other aspects of motherhood seems to play into the stereotypes that society has set up around it. As every mother knows, not every moment is joyous and wonderful and golden and as an artist I really wanted to push myself to “go there.” Some moments are exhausting, frustrating, overwhelming, marginalizing and just demoralizing. Women are so reluctant to focus on the negative because they feel that to do so makes them look as though they don’t love their children and don’t feel fortunate. I don’t think this is true- I think that to explore the full depth of all of your feelings merely makes you human.
The experience of motherhood changes a woman immediately and leaves her with a collection of “marks”: physically, mentally and emotionally. These marks are permanent, but at the same time are transitional and change shape and composition over time. No two women experience motherhood in the same way, and the experience of being a “mother” is very different from that of being a “parent”. While the journey is inevitably filled with joyous and rewarding moments, it is also by its very nature messy, with rough edges, frayed seams and exposed surfaces. It is by no means perfect.
This series explores those marks of motherhood using the application of a variety of natural dyeing methods to the hand-hooked surface. These methods include materials found in nature, as well as rust dyeing. The results are always variable and unpredictable and one has to let go of the idealism of perfection- much like the experience of motherhood itself. I am also exploring the use of a number of different backing materials to support the narrative of my work. This follows on the experimentation I did with hooking on tulle in 2015 for my piece “Suspension.”
This is just the first of a number of series that I see coming from my experience of motherhood. I have several other series in mind which will use other methods and materials in order to explore the concepts that have come out of my own journey down this path.
P.S. Just a quick note to let you know that I will be holding a Beginner Rug Hooking with Yarn class at my home studio in Ottawa, Ontario on Thursday, January 18th, 2018. The class will run from 9:30 am-12:30 pm and there are only two spaces left so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
As well, I currently have five of my small pieces on display and available to purchase at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Ottawa. They will be there until December 14th, 2017. Great for gift-giving this holiday season!