Tag Archives: Museum Of Motherhood

VOTE AMERICA #KeepAmericaBeautiful

It’s been a long time since my last post. I have traversed three states along with several countries, navigated the passing of two family members, and find myself back where everything started in New York City.

Today, I am sitting in the newly created Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center at Manhattan College. The center is an inclusive space designed to centralize resources, support, and advocacy for students having experiences related to gender, sexuality- including sexual assault prevention and gender justice. Each Tuesday from 2-4 at Kelly rm 203, I will be bringing a bit of the Museum of Motherhood to the campus and sharing information on mother studies.

Today is an IMPORTANT DAY – today America VOTES!

When anxious friends tell me they are upset with the current political environment, I respond with the following, “educate yourself and others, vote, be kind to your neighbor.” 

I’ve been teaching Codes of Gender this semester at MC and it couldn’t be a more timely class or a more important topic. I’m hoping to get the course material online over the holidays, but meantime, here is a poem from one of my students and a few photos from around town, including the fabulous “Body” show at Westbeth Gallery. Now…. get out there and let’s #MakeAmericaColorful

Also, a reminder that there is a current CFP for the Annual Academic MOM Conference, to be held at MC this year April 6-7. If you are an academic, student, health-worker, artist, or activist in the area of childbirth, birth trauma, and healing and think you’d like to submit, the link is here: https://mommuseum.org/conferences/

Photo taken at the Westbeth Gallery Legacy Fatale “Unbound Feminisms and Territorialities” The Queens Museum, 2016. Legacy Fatale is a performance art group: http://www.legacyfatale.com

Long Way To Go
Laura O’Neill

The plight of women has been a long one.
Giving life to men who have no empathy ain’t fun.
The first wave of feminism began in 1920.
But it’s been almost a hundred years, and we still can’t get equal money. All women have faced the struggle.
But black women have faced it double.
Sojourner Truth had to plead with her white sisters, to see her as a woman. Looking back, our history can seem quite inhuman.
The battle is far from won when it comes to binary options
It’s time to throw away all your presumptions.
Radical feminism may seem intense.
But when a man gets paid a $1, Latina women earn just 54 cents. Heteronormativity can keep people from living their best life.
Most women have big dreams, more than just a wife.
Cis humans have to make being an ally a priority.
And eventually love and acceptance will be the majority.

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. . . on Sisterhood

Today I am thinking about sisterhood and about how special that bond is. Did you know that there is more to sisterhood than the sisters we are born with? It turns out we are partly what our genetics hand us, and also what we make up for ourselves. After the untimely death of my brother last year, I was left with a huge void. But, because of his passing new family members have emerged.

Immediately after my brother’s death, his ex-wife, from whom I had been alienated, required help managing the impact of the crisis. There were a plethora of ways Dave’s demise affected her sons, but one son, in particular, needed a lot of attention. Throughout the next twelve months, we collaborated on strategies to navigate the grief and get access to essential services for my nephews. Through this process, my sister-in-law Denise and I rediscovered our friendship and recommitted to each other. A deep and abiding respect grew out of devastating circumstances and a new Goddess-sisterhood was formed which remains deep and ongoing.

DavidMimiJoyAnother sister that emerged after Dave’s passing was Mimi. We worked on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at Betsey Johnson as sales girls in the 1980s. After I introduced Dave and her they began dating, ultimately living together until he met and married Denise in 1989. Michelle and I remained Christmas-card friends through the years but Dave and she resumed a deep friendship after their subsequent divorces in California.

When our family took an extended trip to Scotland over the summer to commemorate my brother’s life and passing, Mimi asked if she could come along. Of course, I said yes. Then, one night in Scotland after a day of storytelling and crying in the kitchen, it occurred to me that we might both mitigate our loss by declaring our sisterhood. Our mutual losses became a bridge to a reimagined family. The next morning we announced our commitment to becoming sisters to our children. Not a week goes by that I don’t get or give a text beginning with the phrase: Dear Sister.

Today, I arrived back at the Museum of Motherhood in Florida and met with Dawn Parker who managed the space and completed her Spirited Woman Summer Residency. This grant came to us through Nancy Mills, who was recommended by my West Coast Mamapalooza Coordinator, Stacy Robin— another sister. Many sisters. Many opportunities. I give a nod to all my sisters and meditate on my bountiful family. I pray we can all feel the connection that is ours to acknowledge. Meanwhile, wishing Dawn the best and opening myself to whatever this next cycle brings in terms of fresh beginnings and the ever-expanding circle of friends who make up this beautiful human family.

Dawn_Joy

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New Ideas – Birthing The World/No Place For Violence – Day 8

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.

Lena Simic (pictured)


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.

Photo by Ana Alvarez, “Cesarea”

 

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.”

Joy Rose & Dyana Gravina, London

 

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!

Hermoine Wiltshire, Laura Godfrey, M.Joy Rose, Ana Alvarez

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.