I’m only 2 weeks in to my residency, but already the structure of the ARiM has helped me shift my perspective in glorious and drastic ways. What seemed arduous and taxing last month is now fodder for creative work. My studio, which previously felt cluttered with toys and dominated by my toddler, once again feels like a creative space, abundant with possibility. Sometimes we really just need someone to frame things in a new way for us, in order for light to pour in, and that’s what this program has done for me.
An Artist Residency in Motherhood has given me a professional platform and permission to hold space for the universal inquiry of motherhood. ARiM has given me the freedom to be both mother and artist. Before ARiM I struggled to justify my existence as an individual in motherhood, let alone my existence as an artist. I now have validation, community, and the artistic freedom to create because I am a mother, not despite it.
Since I started my residency in motherhood I have felt my identity before having my baby has returned to me somewhat. I love my baby and I love spending my days with her but the 1 hr a day that I allocate for my residency is so precious and refuels me somehow to then be more present when I am with my baby again. The residency in motherhood has provided a platform for me to nurture my independence, creativity and identity. I am very grateful for it.
Parenting can be a lonely affair, while the life of an artist can be equally as isolating. Whether it is giving all of one’s attention to the needs of a child day after day, or the quiet hours alone in ones studio, both can leave you feeling alone. As a full-time mother, I have to admit that the time which I do get to spend alone in my studio is a true gift, but non the less I found myself craving dialogue with other artists and mothers who could relate to all the struggles which arise from this dual experience. Arim has given me this community of mother artists who share equal ambitions and struggles. I feel empowered, inspired and supported.
It was about 2am. I was up nursing my one-year-old daughter, bleary eyed and scrolling through a local mothers’ Facebook group when a post caught my eye: Artist Residency in Motherhood. Someone had posted a link to Lenka’s project. A few likes, no comments. I clicked through and found something that spoke to me: How to create an artist residency, in my home, that was in relation to my motherhood — not despite it. For a year (okay, really two years), my art practice was neglected. I had been focused on creating a baby, then nurturing her through pregnancy and infancy. When she turned one, my attention started to drift back to my creative work, but I didn’t know where to start. In earlier times, I’d been a documentary and street photographer. In recent years, I’d been an oil painter. Both involved long uninterrupted hours on my own — either traveling, or in a studio where I needed at least an hour to even get started with a brush. But I started to think about what it might mean to be an artist in residence in my own home, and I questioned whether I needed to be away from my family in order to create. I created a small residency for myself: one month. June. In my home. I created a way to make art that was portable: collage. I created a small kit with glue, magazine tears, scissors, and a large spiral-bound notebook. I took it from my studio and into my kitchen, and I committed to do one collage a day. One collage. Nothing big, but a huge change from before. The theme for the month’s collages, I decided, would be Motherhood. My mother had become ill with cancer this spring, and in June it became apparent that I needed to be with her through a surgery and recovery in her home. Far away. I packed my daughter’s things and my collage kit and we went. When I got to her house, I remembered that my Mom used to make collages. In fact, she used to host collage workshops in her home. What had started as a residency about my motherhood turned into one about my mother as well. It is now almost the end of June. I have not made a collage every day. I’m okay with that. But I’ve made a bunch. Some I love. Some are really lame. I’ve struggled with integrating my art into my family life — my default is to do it “away” from them. Even if that means going to the garage. Making a collage in the kitchen, or in my bedroom, with other people around, has been difficult for me. I’m discovering whether my art is something I need to do in private, or whether I can bring my family along. This residency has challenged me to that. It has also freed me. I am a person who thrives with structure, with accountability, with homework! A friend agreed to be my accountability partner, and I have emailed her (most of) my collages. I wanted to create a residency that was doable, that would get my juices going again, and that would hopefully point the way to The Next Thing. Thank you, Lenka. And to that anonymous Mom on my Facebook group, here’s a Like.
I’m finding inspiration where I didn’t think to look (or look at from a work point of view) - apart from developing my own non-kids practice, I’m now seeing things that they/we do and share that could be the start of little side projects, and have started collecting ideas from it already. Apart from simply making me smile more it’s really useful to see that just by changing your perspective it opens up new possibilities.I am also finding the framework of the residency amazingly helpful. For me, who has worked commercially for many years in both of my main fields but has struggled to see myself as a real ‘artist’ it’s a two-fold thing - firstly it helps me validate for myself, and give myself permission, to spend this time on my own work. Secondly, the accountability part is truly giving me incentive and impetus to keep going... through everything family/child/work related!!Finally the community that I feel will grow from this is both exciting and inspiring - can’t wait to see what develops!
This residency has been invaluable for me. I spent the month of June 2016 getting back into a body of paintings I had on the back burner since becoming pregnant in 2014. I set up a little Facebook sub group that I used for clocking into and out of the studio, sharing images with other artist mothers, and generally encouraging others wanting to work WITH and within our mutual situation in motherhood. Thank you for providing the example, tools, impetus, and map to make this all happen. I LOVE knowing that there are others out there like me, working in the scraps of time we have, working with and against this new and strange love we’ve created.