In honor of Mother’s Day, lets celebrate 3 mothers who are also artists, and for the third layer of goodness- allow motherhood to strongly influence their work. The bond between a mother and child is unlike anything else. Countless artists throughout history have been inspired to create by this unique relationship. We have all seen the beautiful yet traditional Madonna & child paintings of old masters. Angela Bentley Fife, Emily McPhie, and Leah Moses Gandhi describe motherhood through art in untraditional yet thought provoking ways. Their work is personal, it reflects thoughts & emotions they see as they follow their own journey as mothers.
Angela Bentley Fife explores motherhood in many different capacities throughout her work. In one of her most recent works Accepting strength & comfort the viewer can draw many conclusions. Painted extremely well this piece has an almost haunting feeling for me, I see my own insecurities coming through about not being emotionally available for my children. Although the title alludes to something else more positive, that is how it speaks to me. A painting about motherhood surfaces many complex feelings for all of us. The interpretation of a piece about motherhood can be more subjective then perhaps any other subject matter. But we all feel something, that is the power of art.
In addition Angela paints still life’s, clothes that have meaning tied to it. I love the idea of a memory being conveyed through something tangible captured in a painting. It’s like a secret memory that uses more of our senses to recall then perhaps just a photo. It can represent a time frame too, more then just one single event but a period. I imagine whom ever commissioned this dress wanted to remember that time in this little girls life. When maybe all she wore everyday was that dress…..
In her thesis to obtain an MFA Leah Moses Gandhi, a conceptual artist chose Maternicity: Forming Attachments and Drawing Conclusions as her title. Leah then created an incredible body of work surrounding this concept. Knowing the state of her life while working on her thesis as a new mother, its easy to see where she drew an enormous amount of inspiration. Leah documents early stages of motherhood, visually, verbally, & tangibly all at the same time. Her creativity & love of the human intellect show through impressively throughout her work. No matter the medium Leah carefully chose her concept for each message she wanted to convey, I loved being exposed to this type of work. Leah visually captured through text in delicate hand made books the rush of information that overwhelms you as a new mother.
IN A RUSH TO TELL YOU EVERYTHING: A CONCORDANCE
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: 4 x 3.5” Abaca fiber paper and arranged paperback text
EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: 5 x 4.5” Abaca fiber paper and arranged paperback text
Leah titled this piece, Breastfeeding: A Seismographic Record. While breast feeding Leah drew on to the pages of a breast feeding guide book. How cool is that? I am just impressed she can nurse & draw at the same time. The end result is a work that many breast feeding mothers can relate to. The repetition & rhythm of the drawings recall to me, those seemingly countless hours a day you spend nursing a new born.
a close up detail of the piece
We have all felt like the puppeteer pulling at the strings of our children or can even recall our own mothers dictating our actions & directions. Emily McPhie has brilliantly constructed this theme & revisited it on several of her works. She so cleverly describes the complex feelings mothers have from A to Z. Emily’s ideas are always original & relevant. Dare can I say another artist has so perfectly described through paint the complex thoughts or unrecognized feelings of a mother. Drawing conclusions for us to reflect, laugh, cry and think about what we do & why we do it. Need I say more? Her vocabulary to paint is much more profound to view then my words would ever be.
In Windows of Heaven, Emily depicts the mother knitting her own sweater on to that of her child. To me this shows the purest form of love a mother has for her child. She would do or give anything for the well being of her children. To many of us this is the love that keeps us going through the inevitable ups and downs of motherhood. I would loved to have been a second party inside Emily’s head as she conjured up this image that so perfectly describes that love.
Thank you to these mother artists who choose their divinity as mothers to inspire their work. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!