Reconsidering the terms “artist” + “mother”

16RMRadiant Monster (detail), 1996

I’m developing a presentation about being an artist-mother for a conference that considers a collaborative dance project by dancer Julie Lebel. Her project opens up a new possibilities for understanding intersubjective, collaborative and creative movement. The ensemble she’s been working with is made up of a community of children and parents who’ve danced together weekly over a four-year period.

My presentation, on a three-person panel following a performance by the ensemble of children and parents, will discuss how becoming an artist mother has empowered me to interrogate stereotypes of both artists and mothers. I’ll talk about what it has meant for me to develop my practice as an artist-mother, when it sometimes felt like those terms were mutually exclusive. Becoming an artist mother has helped me redefine both what it means to be an artist and what it means to be a mother.

Rather than experiencing the role of the artist as one of alienation and selfishness, I understand that it’s possible for an artist to have social responsibilities, participate in a world of relationships and consider others as at the same time as they pursue their own goals.

I’ve also redefined what it means to be a mother, because as much as I love my children, I still need to maintain my sense of autonomy and personal agency. A mother doesn’t have to give up her identity and passion because she has children. I see that my work has an artist inspires my children to pursue their own passion and goals within their lives as young adults.

Here’s a link to this presentation on Vimeo.

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