Mapping the Maternal in Edmonton

25 05 2016


Mapping the Maternal: Art, Ethics, and the Anthropocene was a feminist think-tank the likes of which I have never experienced. Organizers Natalie Loveless and Sheena Wilson described the project thus: “Our goal with this colloquium is to create a hybrid art-academic event through which an international group of feminist artists, scholars, and activists can collaboratively share research and co-construct new knowledge on contemporary feminist art and the maternal in the context of Anthropogenic climate change.” Days full of short provocations, careful listening, extended discussions, and caring for one another, all in the setting of Lise Haller Baggesen’s Mothernism installation, made for a generative time together. So many overlapping interests and thought-provoking new directions- I am eager to see what comes next.


Lex Wrap-Up

30 04 2016

Five years to the week after I first met with the directors of Das Verborgene Museum to consider a collaboration on the work of Alice Lex, I returned to Berlin for the opening of the retrospective exhibition and for the launch of the book. The entire week was highly celebratory and I cannot imagine a better culmination to a years-long project. Highlights of the week: seeing so many of Lex’s works framed and hung together in a single space, for the first time EVER; finally holding the beautifully designed book in my hands, after so many years of research and writing; giving an address in German at the exhibition opening – nerve-wracking but thrilling; gathering with so many friends from near and far to celebrate the opening; meeting with journalists (Tagesspiegel article here); and talking with Lex’s remaining family members, who seemed just as thrilled as I was to see this project reach completion. As an academic, it was truly rewarding to see that this work actually matters to some real people.

First publicity for the Lex exhibition!

18 02 2016

I began the recovery project on German artist Alice Lex back in 2011 when we moved to Berlin for my research. Between research, writing, and planning with museums, it is now five years later and the project is finally nearing completion. These last few months have entailed much editorial back-and-forth, related both to content and to translation issues (since the book will be dual-language, German and English) and I think we are almost at the finish line. The opening of the exhibition has been set for April 13, 2016 and the first publicity has just been released, which can be read in German here, as well as a preview cover of the book, to be published by Lukas Verlag.

lex book cover preview

Cutting, Folding, Printing Paper

18 01 2016

Saying “yes” to exhibitions tends to be a great motivator for me to carve out time for making. This fall and winter I’ve happily agreed to a variety of shows: a small solo exhibition at Hesston College, titled “Paper Cuts”; a 3-person exhibition at the Carriage Factory Art Gallery titled “Conversations and Story Lines”; and most recently, a solo show of my handmade books at Fisch Haus Studios. This last body of work I created in collaboration with poets Elizabeth Schultz and Catherine Anderson. Selecting evocative phrases from their poetry, I created a series of a dozen small books inspired by their use of language. This coming Saturday, January 23 at 7pm, the poets will do a reading of their work at Fisch Haus, after which we’ll have some conversation about their process, my process, and how the two might overlap and inform each other. Join us!

a rustling falling leaf

a rustling, falling leaf, 2015


cfg poster

Root for the Home Team

27 10 2015

Who would have guessed that I would curate an exhibition about sports? And yet, when it relates so closely to something I’m teaching, how could I have resisted? Last winter, the Kansas Humanities Council circulated a call for grant proposals related to the Smithsonian Institution’s Hometown Teams exhibit, looking for partner sites around the state to produce projects on stories of sports and community. Because I teach a section of the First-Year Seminar, and because one of our common reads is Warren St. John’s Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference, and because so many of our first-year students now come to college in part to play sports, this seemed like a perfect potential fit. So I applied, and Bethel College was named one of 26 partner sites – and the only college or university to be included (most are small museums or community foundations).

Our project has been two-fold: bringing in an extensive series of speakers for our convocation line-up – on topics including Mexican-American fastpitch softball in Kansas, the Cherokee ball game Anetso, cultural appropriation and sports mascots, and racial discrimination in sports – and an exhibition at Kauffman Museum. Working with museum staff, area researchers and archivists, and a wide variety of community members, I had the opportunity to curate Root for the Home Team: Building Community through Sports, an exhibition that tells some of the stories from our communities. We’ve been able to use the speaker series and the exhibition as ways to extend learning beyond the classroom, looking at how themes from our book tie into other real-world examples. And my design students were able to meet with the exhibit designers and think about some of the questions that go into three-dimensional design, for a very specific set of audiences.

I am grateful for the collaboration of so many colleagues on this project!

RFTHT Card Graphic

A Hidden Garden of Monotypes

27 10 2015

Once again this past summer, my dear friend Gail and I traveled north to Vermillion, South Dakota, to take part in the Frogman’s print workshop. (And, as it happens, we were there for the very last one, as Frogman’s will be moving to Omaha, Nebraska beginning in 2016.) This year’s class with Anita Jung on monotypes and monoprints may well have been the best one I’ve taken. Her teaching style and her approach to printmaking gels well with my own and I so appreciated, as always, the dedicated time to focus and explore a medium. I took my interest in paper-cutting and experimented with thin layers of color and color blending in a, for me, very new way. One of my classmates, upon seeing my drawer full of prints, exclaimed that I had an entire “hidden garden” – a phrase that has stuck with me as I have continued the work at home.

frogmans 2015 hidden garden IMG_4680

Motherhood and Creative Practice

18 07 2015

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.