Mom Art- Working Syllabus
for home school semester 1, 2016
Please feel free to contribute your thoughts/responses/etc to Mom Art Online, a collaborative living document
What’s the opposite of Pop Art? (Is it Mom Art?) What’s the opposite of a Factory? (Is it a home?) What’s the opposite of Andy Warhol? (Is it everybody else?)
The idea of Mom Art came to me in 2014, so I tweeted about it. I’m not the first person to come up w this concept; Anita Steckel did a series she called “mom art” back in the 60s, and I imagine there have been plenty of folks in the meantime who’ve thought up the same pun (google shows about 296 relevant results* for the exact phrase.)
My idea of Mom Art is a counterpart / alternative framework to Pop Art, and examines the mom, the mom-like, and the mom-adjacent. Since motherhood is ofc not monolithic and I can’t access and don’t deign to speak for all the moms in the world, it’s for now rooted in how my life changed as I transitioned into motherhood: my life totally changed, and in lots of ways I probably haven’t come to see clearly yet, but as I started putting together this class, three aspects stand out to me. Since motherhood, I’ve come to live in and notice the personal, everyday, and generous more often and more deeply. So I’ve formed a class around these. Looking forward to finding more!
I see Mom Art as personal/everyday/generous, self-centered yet other-oriented; social practice, performance art, and relational aesthetics might be adjacent spheres; maybe art that performs as a mom would, not necessarily art made by moms? Mom Art is messy. The concept of “mom” has been “soccer mommed,” suburbanized and picket-fenced by white supremacist capitalist Pop Culture but there are infinite ways to mom and my approach to Mom Art aims to give visibility to more marginalized perspectives on the topics/approaches I see as constituting Mom Art. The idea of Mom Art, for me, is a fuzzy bundle*: a soft conceptual/aesthetic framework where the contents can brush up against one another in a non-confining way.
*Fuzzy bundle: a blurry collection, like a flock of birds in flight
My idea of Mom Art is a work in progress and it is an accumulation; I’m aiming for it to be a descriptive, not prescriptive, term somehow. It’s art that examines spheres, feelings, production that are ignored by or contrary to pop culture and Capitalism. Other aspects I see as relevant/adjacent to Mom Art: process-oriented, visible hand of the maker, collaborative… It’s a personal, burgeoning, fuzzy bundle of mine that perhaps holds use for me since my own life as an artist is closely tied to my life as a mom.
This Mom Art fuzzy bundle is necessarily tied to my own experience and position but maybe it will resonate and be useful to you, or maybe checking out what I call Mom Art will help you clarify/relate more closely to the fuzzy bundle made up of the art/things/ideas you think are important. Motherhood is not at all monolithic and Mom Art doesn’t want you to treat it as such-- each mom experiences their motherhood differently and as one aspect of their identity and trajectory, just as each artist relates to their own work differently. Mom Art examines the place of the mom, the mom-like, and the mom-adjacent in the artworld, and the way that art-work is in conversation with mom-work. Have you ever called an art project or anything else “your baby?”
I expect this class to feel more like a book club than a lecture hall, and be a place to share multidirectionally and collaboratively build, where we can learn from one another and enjoy the time we spend together. I hope that this experience will give you the chance to a. examine some important, interesting work being made by critically meaningful artists; b. build a set of collective experiences and relationships with our classmates. c. create a collection of our Mom Art related work/ a place to keep the stuff we do/memories we make in class; and d. compile an archive of relevant/adjacent work/thoughts found around the web and elsewhere (if you want to!)
Here we go!
Week 1: the personal—the human/living is a constant conversation w motherhood, being a mom is being preoccupied w the bodily safety and emotional stability of your kid(s), but the kids have lives of their own!
(My early motherhood (pregnancy, and then the few months spent at home before I returned to work) were a time that I grew much closer to my memories, my feelings, and my body. Sharing my body w another body during pregnancy was a big trip and gave me a lot to think about-- especially where does one self end and another begin? How do we depend on each other? The birth process itself was super visceral, bodied, painful, and embarrassing-- I can tell u all about it someday if u want, long story. And once my kid was born, into a rough New York winter, I spent the next three months basically shut in with her, which gave me a lot of time to connect with myself and draw on my internal resources, which meant at least in my case that I just thought a lot, and ran my mind over all my memories, while rocking my kid to sleep or breastfeeding her before dawn.) I connected w myself as a person and drew on my emotional and bodily repositories in ways I’d never before. So! I see the personal as a big part of Mom Art. And here are some readings and works that work thru some similar material and resonate w me.
reading: Joanna Hevda, sick woman theory ; Aria Dean, closing the loop; Sarah Xerta, When People Ask If I’m Going To Give Evelyn A Brother Or Sister
looking: GIM; Hannah Black, My Bodies, 2014; Monica McClure, Chiflada; Poppy Jones, Girl A by Poppy Jones for Gemstone Readings Holidaez Release !; Wu Tsang at Clifton Benveneto (Rachel Rakes review) Martine Syms, EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED TO KNOW
thinking/responding: what does personal mean to you? the role of the personal in your art; the role of the personal in self-image/memories/feelings; the personal and the social-- is this about audience?; types of looking/ relating to art; what are some ways to relate to art that aren’t gazing; bad personal art; interpersonal art; what does it do to call something or approach sth personal as art? elevate or trivialize?
activity: put your personal art in a hat, let’s figure out who did what? Or
Week 2: the everyday—Mom Art looks at and wallows in the domestic, the routine, and the mundane: mom work is non-Fordist; Motherhood is slow and gradual, the results are sometimes hard to see, incomplete and blurry
reading: Ane Hjort Guttu, How to become a non-artist ; Ossi Naukkarinen, “What is ‘Everyday’ in Everyday Aesthetics? ; Oluwatoni Y Akindele, ‘Ruka (to braid/to knit/to weave)’ Explores The African Hair Braiding Salon; Allison Friedman Weidberg, Issues and Commentary: Productive Space
Things 2 think/talk about: where does art show up in your everyday? where does your everyday show up in your art? who and what constitute your everyday and how do you honor them? what does it do to call something or approach sth everyday as art? does it elevate? or trivialize?
activity: chart your everyday and/or share w us an everyday artwork from your everyday
Week 3: the generous-- Mom Art is about the givingness of creativity, and the moebius strip of giving and receiving, and looking at/emphasizing generosity and the chains of generosity. one time i thought of my life, and its trajectory and said to myself, “you are a kite being flown by a kite being flown by a kite being flown (and so on)” (each kite a mom)
reading: Hito Steyerl, Is a museum a factory?; (this boy i almost married once said that I would bear his children and “be his factory”) CA Conrad, #46 your MINA LOY PORTAL: Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed Ch. 1
what does it do to call something or approach sth generous as art? elevate? or trivialize?
Week 4: Wildstyle-- a placeholder for spill-over, things we didn’t have time/space to address in previous classes; a place to synthesize; maybe a collective project? group show? TBD
* If u click this link, u will see that google suggests a huge number of estimated results (like 223,000?) but if you click back a page or two, you will hit the end of the results (google’s last suggestion as of 3.15.16 was “about 347.”) this happens a lot with my exact phrase searches-- a wild number of estimated results, followed by a deep-click to end with only a few hundred actual clickable results. My current conclusion is that the internet is not as big as google wants u 2 think it is.