An Artist Residency in Motherhood
Posted on April 12, 2017
The Artist Residency in Motherhood is a self directed, open source artist residency intended to empower and inspire artists and writers who are also mothers.
The concept is simple yet ground breaking, turn towards motherhood for creativity and not away. Participants of the program are encouraged to work with their children, drawing on their experiences as a mother and to encorperate family into their practice and method. An Artist Residency in Motherhood is the reframing of parenthood as a valuable site for creative practice, rather than an obstruction to be overcome.
The Artist residency in motherhood was founded in 2013 by Lenka Clayton, and now includes over 300 artists practicing in more than 30 countries. “Before having kids, I’d worked as an interdisciplinary artist for 15 years. I’d often attended artist residencies and I was inspired by the unfamiliarity of each new environment and used this as material to make my work with. When I became a parent traveling became tricky, money and time were tight, and the residencies I found couldn’t accommodate artists with families.” So she set about planning and executing her own artist in residence, in motherhood.
Lenka made a list of the things she would want to include in her perfect residency and she set about getting it. She looked for accountability, organised a space, wrote a manifesto, made and plan and begun.
I was introduced to the Artist in Residency in Motherhood shortly after having my child. A friend of mine sent me a link with the comment, ‘I thought this might be interesting for your first year,’ and I did what so many people, reading this article might do. I thought, ‘Making art about babies… How boring, yawn.’
I had missed the point entirely. It was precisely my misguided attitude towards artists as mothers that was in need of this residency.
I ignored the residency and sat down to write despite all the pressures and challenges of motherhood.
When my son turned one I realised something was wrong. I was frustrated with my work, anxious about my lack of progress, I felt left behind and misunderstood.
I had begun to view my son as an adversary instead of a source of inspiration. I was trying to work, despite my child. I was attempting to ignore and hide everything about me that was a mother, tried to pretend I had not changed. I was associating new motherhood with being held back instead of using it to compliment my work. I was doing it all wrong.
So now, I am a proud member of the Artist in Residency in Motherhood. I wrote and plan and I filled out a manifesto. I wrote a list of goal and places I wanted to pitch my work. I am writing about parenting, and I am documenting our time together more closely. I am looking at him and my new role in a different light. As a way to see the world differently, for we are both different.
I have divided my residency into three sections, allocated time for the two of us to make art together, time for me to write creatively about motherhood and time to document the process for an audience. Just a few hours a week have changed my entire work completely.
I am now looking for the story, looking for the richness of ordinary life and it is there. Hidden within my time with my baby there is something beautiful, important and creative taking place that I might have otherwise overlooked.
Residency finishes up in March 2018.
For more information on the Artist-in-Residency-in-Motherhood go here.
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