Motherhood and Creative Practice

The highlight of early summer was the opportunity to participate in not one, but two, conferences on motherhood and creative practice. The first, organized by Elena Marchevska and Valerie Walkerdine at London South Bank University, brought together practitioners from many parts of the world for two full days of non-stop, concurrent sessions of presentations and discussions. The days were full, and I didn’t get to hear nearly all of the presentations that I wanted to hear, but the energy and excitement were palpable; Cultural ReProducers published a good recap here. And the best conversations often happened after hours – at cafes, or restaurants, or on a hotel rooftop:

Meeting of the maternal minds
Meeting of the maternal minds

A few days following the London conference, a smaller group of us convened in Rotterdam for an amazing weekend organized by the remarkable Deirdre Donoghue and m/other voices. The Mothernists coalesced around the idea of Mothernism (a riff on Modernism) articulated by Lise Haller Baggesen in her recent Master’s thesis, book project, and exhibition. The opportunity to share work in a more intimate, workshop type of setting led to stronger connections and more brainstorming about possible next steps. In both venues, it was thrilling to see such a critical mass developing around art and the maternal, which only a few years ago felt so on the margins. Or maybe my eyes are only now opening. Or both. Deirdre has very kindly uploaded the videotaped presentations from the weekend, accessible here.

The Mothernists in Rotterdam
The Mothernists in Rotterdam

For me, one of the most rewarding parts of the experience was that my 11-year old daughter joined me for the weekend in Rotterdam. She is at a formative age and I wanted her to be surrounded by these strong feminists, scholars, artists, and mothers, and to get a sense of what it is that I do. She was patient and interested and engaging with these strangers-turned-friends and I was proud to have her along.

(thanks to Courtney Kessel for the photo)
(thanks to Courtney Kessel for the photo)

As for what will come from all of this, who knows? Lots to consider.


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