Midwives working towards a cultural practice? Mothers advocating for peace? Can art influence birth? Does the sometimes brutal, medicalized birth experience subject people to what amounts to objectification bordering on abuse? Where does violence start and where does it end?
Yesterday, at the Procreate Oxytocin Symposium in London, Laura Godfrey; artist, activist, and midwife proposed that one of the most proactive and productive intersections of women’s empowerment lies with the birthing mother. She proposes that art might not only aid midwives and birth practitioners with their understanding of women and childbirth, but actually change how doctors proceed with dealing with laboring mothers. Mila Oshin seconded that with her commitment to sharing mother-art with pre-med students as part of DIEP (Digital Institute for Early Parenthood).
Another presenter, also a midwife, shared research about creativity being good for your brain, good for communication, and good for community. She is collecting stories from creative midwives around the world to better influence medical practitioners education and actions. Are you a midwife with a creative story? If so, write: Ellie@midwifediaries.com
Or there was this gem, “performance always includes other,” with Lena Simic & Emily Underwood (Maternal Artist Manifesto). Of course it does. It includes object and viewer, creator and participants, and for mothers it includes their children. I would also add, that once the “other” is truly considered there is little place for violence.
This confluence of words, spoken and written, theories stated and shared, and art made and performed, was articulated again and again throughout the day.
“Responsibility is the ability to respond and then doing so,” says artist Ana Alvarez about caring for her disabled son, sharing thought-provoking photographs about their lives together.
She suggests that perhaps even having to go back into the workforce immediately after giving birth is another kind of violence. She reminds us that the most important thing is; “life which is what is happening here and now.”
Dyana Gravina (and friends), as well as all the incredible and spirited women in attendance at yesterday’s event, have left me changed. I was able to connect women’s health, birth, and art all together for the first time. I see how linked they are. I understand how an artist interested in birth, can embrace midwifery as the next logical careeer choice. That each affects the other and that change in health care practices might be influenced by sharing mother-made art. Thank you to every gorgeous person represented yesterday. Thank you for including me!
Then, after all this, something terrible happened in beautiful England. It was terrible and frightening. A van plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge and attackers went on a stabbing rampage at Borough Market. Many were injured. Some died. This terrorist incident shadowed the evening’s activities. Zena and I lay in our beds at the end of everything, aghast.
So, under a cloud, we cancelled a planned art demonstration with the Desperate Artwives today. These new friends are feminist protesters who believe more women artists need to be represented in institutions. I do too, but they called off the flash mob out of respect for the victims of the attacks.
Instead, we are somber. Quiet. Still. We pause.
But, make no mistake. Art and artists will rise again. Art will emerge from tragedy, blossom, and triumph with beauty. Side by side amidst the rumblings of people’s irrepressible desire to create: to bring new things into being. To birth and be born.
And, along with art comes hope, possibility, and blooming love. Love prevails. In the end, it must. Always a new beginning again and again. So today, and everyday, I send you Abundant LOVE from Europe to America and back again, xo.
I hope you’ll tune in from time to time as I share bits and pieces of the next 45 day journey that will take me from NYC, to London, to Italy, to Scotland.