An Artist Residency in Motherhood
In common with all new parents, the arrival of my first child in 2011 changed many things in my life. One of those changes has been the way I and others think about my career as an artist. I find that many aspects of the professional art world are closed to artists with families. Most prestigious artist residencies for example specifically exclude families from attending.
All of the usual stresses of being an artist with a family were compounded by the COVID-19 crisis. Art events canceled, venues shuttered, available residencies became risky, and all the children were sent home from school. 2020 left me feeling paralyzed as an artist and chafing against being thrust back into the role of primary caregiver, as though my elementary-school-aged children were once again newborns.
Despite a legacy of public artist/parents, it still seems to be a commonly held belief that being an engaged mother and serious artist are mutually exclusive endeavors. I don’t believe or want to perpetrate this. I like to imagine the two roles not as competing directions but to view them, force them gently if necessary, to inform one another.
I will undergo this self-imposed artist residency in order to fully experience and explore the fragmented focus, interrupted studio time, limited movement and resources, and general upheaval that is parenthood during a pandemic. And I will allow it to shape the direction of my work. I have decided to flip my perspective to fully experience this strange time, rather than struggling against it.
The residency period begins May 1, 2021 and will continue until the project feels complete. This website will document my attempts.
--Barb Mowery, April 2021