An Artist Residency in Motherhood for people who make both children and art. Conceived and organized by Emma Jaster.
People participate from anywhere in the world, committing to make one post on instagram every Friday in response to a prompt from another member of the group. The response can be in any medium. It is an opportunity to explore and share an artistic practice from within the perspective and realities of parenting.
With the second cohort, we expanded the group to include artists of other disciplines including painting, drawing, and voice. They are mothers of older children, multiple children, and adult children, united by the shared struggles of mothering and making. They posed questions about depression, impending death, and atypical development. They bravely dove into the darkness together to find the light in sharing.
This is the group that bravely piloted the first residency with me. When my son was a year and half, I came across the work of Lenka Clayton, who founded the original Artist Residency in Motherhood. Inspired by her work, I started the first round of what would become #mamaisamaker. This was an international collective of performing artists- old classmates and collaborators whom I knew had also become mothers. For 9 months we gave each other an assignment every week. We probed into questions of caretaking, partnership, gender roles, womanhood, but also branched out as the mood or the news strook: spaghetti and border control were also fair game. Here is a little about who they are.
Here are all the assignments from the first group. Feel free to give them a try on your own!
In August 2015, I had the incredible experience of giving birth to a child. That transformation, and the resulting human have drastically changed my life and my work as an artist. Being an artist and a mother is a challenge. Our babysitters demand higher pay than we do. But my work continues to call and invigorate me. Must I struggle to work in spite of being a "full-time mother"? Do I put artistry on hold? I am a mother and choreographer. Both. I seek to make that a supportive and beneficial relationship rather than letting these roles compete for my attention.
I continue working in theater spaces and I often travel with my little companion. I danced my way through late pregnancy. Family and volunteers sat with my 4 month old backstage every night during my first show back on the boards. He's ridden on my back and roamed the floor in rehearsals, slept on a bouncy chair between the seats, and nursed while gazing at his mother in sequined gold unitard, wig cap and rainbow eyelashes. And I am grateful every moment for the individuals and communities that have welcomed my choice to continue working, to bring my child along. It would not be possible without their embrace. If there were not such allies, I would not be working.
About 9 months into motherhood, I started making instagram videos. It was a way to keep exploring artistically while spending lots and lots of time at home, totally at the service of my child's evolving needs. I explored the mundanities of this new life, the rhythm of a day of naptimes, and the necessity of empathy. This experiment was crucial in formatting the #mamaisamaker project.
Lenka Clayton's Artist-Residency-in-Motherhood:
"I wondered how I might instead apply the framework of an artist residency to the wild new world that was unfolding at home, one that I usually felt entirely too tired to notice."
Great little PDF documenting performance pieces made by women addressing questions of motherhood: http://www.thisisliveart.co.uk/uploads/documents/Motherhood_and_Live_Art_A_Study_Room_Guide_.pdf
on how women's brains are rewired during pregnancy to "register and consider how other people perceive things," in other words, we're rewired to specialize in empathy, which is precisely the work of artists and theater practitioners since the beginning of time!
Howlround's Where are the Disappeared Women of the Theatre?:
"Perhaps mothers understand better than anyone the possibility of tiny creations evolving quickly into unstoppable forces, and that's what makes believing in their cause a thrill to investigate and support.”