Many of the events that were canceled during this pandemic spring and summer had to do with Inappropriate Bodies: Art, Design, and Maternity, the book I published with Charles Reeve last fall.
Everything was put on hold, of course.
So then it was a real joy and a reminder that life still happens when three different reviews of the book were published in time for Mother’s Day in May. And suddenly, our pandemic situation offered new context for the book’s themes.
Ksenya Gurshtein, curator at the Ulrich Museum of Art, published a review in Hyperallergic in which she wrote, “Some of the book’s most inspiring examples of practical responses to the structural marginalization of mothers come from women, such as Anna Ehnold-Danailov, co-founder of the British theatre company Prams in the Hall, or artist Courtney Kessel, who have built their creative practices by imagining alternatives to the notion that child-rearing and artistic production can only happen in separation from each other. As I worked on this review during a week when I had no access to childcare for my own four-year old, the assertion that ‘the maternal subject [is] one of constant disruption’ rang all too true.”
Chrissy LaMaster reviewed the book for Cultural ReProducers, writing in part that the global pandemic “has thrown the complex expectations of working mothers into sharper focus. It is interesting to reflect on the shifts that have taken place and what they may (or may not) mean for mother’s rights, mother’s bodies, mother artists, maternal studies, and mothers in general.”
And finally, Laura Dennis, in her piece for Mom Egg Review: Literature and Art, frames her thoughts entirely in terms of the pandemic: “In the era of COVID-19, parents find themselves confronting new ways of inhabiting the role of a parent-and. Parent and teacher. Parent and work-from-home employee. Parent and front-line worker. Parent with coronavirus, cut off from those she loves. More than ever, we writers ask, as does Niku Kashef in chapter 8 of Inappropriate Bodies: Art, Design, Maternity, “How does a person who is never off the clock balance art and life?” (155). Though written in pre-pandemic times, Rachel Epp Buller’s and Charles Reeve’s co-edited anthology often rings true as it explores what it means to be a parent–usually a mother–and artist.”