Mothering Synergy: CAA / WCA / TFAP

5 03 2014

While the maternal body has been largely absent from art historical discussions on the national stage, Chicago 2014 was a welcome change: College Art Association, Women’s Caucus for Art, ARTspace, and The Feminist Art Project all hosted panels, presentations, discussions, exhibitions, and performances related to art and the maternal. The level of excitement around the topic was astounding to me, as were the emotional reactions of attendees who were so deeply touched, never having heard this topic engaged in a scholarly setting. I am thrilled to have participated, to have forged and solidified friendships, and to have met many virtual colleagues for the first time. CAA 2014 and its affiliated societies made for the best conference I’ve attended in years.

Panel discussion at the Korean Cultural Center, for the "Through the Eyes of the Mother" exhibition, curated by Hye-Seong Tak Lee (center).

Panel discussion at the Korean Cultural Center, for the “Through the Eyes of the Mother” exhibition, curated by Hye-Seong Tak Lee (center).

Niku and baby Nova, Christen, and my print in the background, at "Through the Eyes of the Mother"

Niku and baby Nova, Christen, and my print in the background, at “Through the Eyes of the Mother”

CAA gave us a grand (and enormous!) ballroom for the WCA-sponsored panel on "The Maternal Body Exposed." Many thanks to my very well-spoken panelists Melissa Gwyn, Anna Hennessey, Christina Stahr, and Tom Nys.

CAA gave us a grand (and enormous!) ballroom for the WCA-sponsored panel on “The Maternal Body Exposed.” Many thanks to my very well-spoken panelists Melissa Gwyn, Anna Hennessey, Christina Stahr, and Tom Nys.

Apparently I took no photos at the day of Feminist Art Project panels, but this link shows the truly amazing line-up that Jennie Klein and Myrel Chernick were able to pull together.

It will be hard for next year to match this one, but I’m looking forward already. On to New York in February 2015.





New class for the winter: Book Arts

2 03 2014

As part of our revitalized, redesigned, re-energized visual arts and design program, I was so excited to have the opportunity this January to teach a 15-day intensive course on Book Arts. I was blessed with a group of engaged and creative students, several of whom were not even art or design majors. We began each day with a critique, and in addition to preparing the demos, I did the homework right along with them. We folded and stitched paper like crazy – accordion fold, flower fold, triangle fold, Venetian blind, pamphlet stitch, dos-a-dos, stab stitch, flag books, pop-ups, and more. Our culminating project was an altered book form: the director of the Mennonite Library and Archives on campus kindly donated a dozen copies of the 1954 edition of The Story of Bethel College, for us to alter. Highly creative results ensued, and on the last day of class, we hosted an exhibition in the library (of course!) of our projects from the month.

Altered books by the students, on display at our end-of-term library exhibition

Altered books by the students, on display at our end-of-term library exhibition

The inside of my altered book, a box with half a dozen miniature books demonstrating different techniques taught during the term and all made with original pages from the Story of Bethel College.

The inside of my altered book, a box with half a dozen miniature books demonstrating different techniques taught during the term and all made with original pages from the Story of Bethel College.

A real highlight of the month was the opportunity to host a visiting artist on campus. Teresa Pankratz worked with the students for 2 days, in addition to installing her book / sculpture / installation, The Dream House Collection, in the Fine Arts Center Gallery. She helped them push past their first iterations and onto more complex, more fully developed results. (News article here)

A few of my books from the month, many of which incorporated repurposed materials, from old art history slides to stamps from my late father’s collection: book2 book4 book5 book6 book7 book8





End-of-semester dash

13 12 2013

Wow, this semester has been a whirlwind and now here we are in the midst of final exams – piles of grading behind me, but more still looming before me. Some of my students have already gone home for the holidays, while others are still madly trying to finish their work. It’s been a rewarding semester in many ways, and I’m already looking forward to making plans for the next one.

One of the highlights from this fall was co-organizing the Mothering Mennonite Symposium on the Bethel College campus. Inspired by the book of essays on Mothering Mennonite that I edited with Kerry Fast, the symposium brought together writers, artists, professors, historians, social workers, church workers, stay-at-home mothers, and social activists, to dialogue about what it can mean to “mother” in a Mennonite context. The day was full of fantastic presentations and panel discussions, but perhaps the most rewarding part for me was witnessing the excited conversations that happened in the hallways, during breaks, and over lunch. The repeated questions was, “What’s next?” I had not anticipated that people would be so hungry for this kind of conversation. I do not know what is next on this front, but I am looking forward.

Symposium presenters and attendees deep in conversation during the breaks. Photo credits: Yolanda Kauffman

Symposium presenters and attendees deep in conversation during the breaks. Photo credit: Yolanda Kauffman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other highlight from fall semester was having the opportunity to jury the Arts Council Exhibition for CityArts in Wichita. It always feels like a privilege when artists entrust someone with their work, offering it up for evaluation. I was reminded again what a strong arts community has developed around Wichita and I was thrilled to be able to award some cash prizes to deserving artists.

Title wall, with the Best in Show sculpture

Title wall, with the Best in Show sculpture





Humor Carnival Recap

27 11 2013

Throughout much of last week, contributors to Have Milk, Will Travel and other invited writers lit up the blogosphere with their funny, in-the-trenches tales of parenting and breastfeeding. Here’s a recap of their stories:

In “I Will Sleep When I Am Dead,” Zoie at Touchstonez needs some sleep but her kids have other ideas.

In “Laughter or the Looney Bin,” Virginia of ReadyornotMom shares how laughter (and tears) got her, and her husband, through two NICU stays and a whole lot more. “Just call me Bessie… on the go!” shows some love for  a nursing mom without a lot of spare time on her hands.

In “Boobs are in the House,” Jenny of Half Crunchy Mom shares how her love affair with her nursing breasts was hindered only by the act of pumping, but she found a way to party with the pump.

In “Send in the Nipple Clowns,” Kerry of PickleMeThis shares a story in which a mother who hasn’t slept more than three hours in a row for six months reflects back on the comedy of her breastfeeding life.

And from Have Milk contributors:

In “The Importance of Laughter,” Jessica Claire Haney of Crunchy-Chewy Mama gets serious about looking for humor with her kids where her own parents didn’t.

In “Underwater” and “Excuse Me,” Adriann Cocker of Cockerchat muses on the absurdity of parenting while leading a hip loft lifestyle in downtown Los Angeles.

Enjoy!

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Humor in Parenting (and Breastfeeding!) Blog Carnival

8 11 2013

Part of this fall has been spent on promotional events surrounding Have Milk, Will Travel. Demeter Press says that it’s selling *really* well, we’re now on Twitter (follow us at @HaveMilkTravel), and the good reviews are starting to roll in. We were thrilled to see last week’s glowing review of the book in Literary Mama, and maybe even better is hearing from moms themselves about how much they relate to these stories, whether they’re nursing right now or if they finished nursing a decade ago.

To continue sharing the laughter: consider join us for the Have Milk Blog Carnival. Here are the details. Share in the laughing love!

Humor in Parenting (and Breastfeeding!) Blog Carnival

How could we get through a day of parenting without the ability to laugh?

Celebrate the spirit of the new breastfeeding anthology Have Milk, Will Travel by participating in our November 19 blog carnival on the need for humor in parenting.

For those participating in NaBloPoMo: Score! Here’s an opportunity to have a lot of fun. Or at least to talk about how important it is to have fun.

Posts can share anything that resonates with you about humor in parenting in general or specifically during the nursing years. Laughing while breastfeeding never gets old (though it can get messy).

General topics to consider include:

-the unintentional comedy of life with kids

-the intentional use of levity to defuse parent-child struggle

-how sharing humor with each other helps us make it through and know that we’re not alone, including in person with friends and groups, online, in books, on Facebook. How does humor – and humor in community – get you through the day?

Anyone is welcome to participate, but contributors to the collection might wish to share reflections some months or years after originally submitting their essays. What’s so funny about breastfeeding now that it’s over? Or, now that you’re doing it with someone else? How do your kids feel about what you wrote about them? How might your readers be surprised by the 2013 version of you and your kids compared to what you wrote?

Submit your name, link to your unique post, the post title and a one-sentence description of your post to rachel (at) ddtr (dot) net by midnight, Friday, November 15. On Monday, November 18, you will receive top and bottom code for your post so you can share all the laughing love with the other carnival contributors.

Tweet with the hashtags #humorcarnival and #funnybreastfeeding and please share on Facebook tagging the Have Milk page at https://www.facebook.com/HaveMilkWillTravel

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Canadian Launches

17 09 2013

Sincere thanks to Andrea O’Reilly and Marlene Epp, who organized and hosted launch events in Toronto and Waterloo, respectively, last weekend for Have Milk, Will Travel and Mothering Mennonite.

Some of Demeter's great titles

Some of Demeter’s great titles

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Stacked up, ready to sell

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Canadian writers Kerry Clare, Carrie Snyder, and Sarah Campbell

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Co-editors, together in person at last

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The Waterloo contingent, at Conrad Grebel University College

 





Have Milk, Will Travel

2 09 2013

The idea for this collection, Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding, has been in my head for years, since I was nursing my own children. It moved in fits and starts, often on hold amidst other projects, but finally this spring took off at full speed, thanks to the advocacy and support of Andrea O’Reilly and Demeter Press. The essays, stories, and poems are by turns laugh-out-loud funny, painfully embarrassing, and bittersweet. My gratitude goes to all of the writers who contributed to the book, and to Cheryl Petran and The Pump Station & Nurtury in Los Angeles, who organized such fabulous launch events last weekend.

While the book is available through the typical large online retailer, consider supporting Brunswick Books, one of the small independent bookstores carrying the title.

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