Motherhood is a profound subject within art history. Mothers, often portrayed as serene Virgin Mary's figures within art and the media, are in fact, the warriors of society. The truth of motherhood is often cast aside: the anxiety, mess, tantrums, sleepless nights, postnatal depression. The list goes on. Becoming a mother brings sudden, irreversible change. It is our responsibility to shed light on the truth of motherhood. All of the struggles that come with motherhood need to be normalised, so that we all feel less alone in the vast
spectrum of emotions we experience.
Introducing incredible mixed media works by the very talented Amy Reidel, one of our artists featured in issue 3: RED. Amy creates expressive works illustrating the hardships that so many women go through yet are not encouraged to discuss, such as traumas related to sexual assault, pregnancy, and childbirth.
"After a lifetime of apologising for being in someone’s way, for being 'too sensitive', for essentially BEING as a woman, my use of colour is unapologetic. I’m proud of that."
ON CREATING ART ABOUT WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES
"Many of my friends and family members, mainly women, have quietly provided devoted care to sick and elderly loved ones, birthed children in circumstances with little regard for the safety, comfort, nor recovery of the Mother, and have experienced sexual coercion, harassment or assault. I live in a country which seems to value an unborn foetus and guns more than it values the life of a woman. Many of them/us have this defeated countenance of 'that’s just how it is.' The patriarchal narrative insists that women just suck it up and shut up and I think that’s bullshit. I hope that when women see my work they recognise themselves and perhaps their struggles, loves and joys, and know that someone hears them. My practice is a form of testimony of our shared experience."
"I primarily think of menstrual blood and afterbirth now that I’m a mother. These fluids and saturated biological material, which we tend to think of as 'gross', are actually our
ON THE EXPRESSIVE NATURE OF HER WORK
"Throughout my art training I was gently and sometimes overtly persuaded to tone-down the emotional and expressive nature of my work. Because of this, for ten years I used the abstract and somewhat sterile filters of weather radar, Doppler ultrasound and colour MRI imagery to tell stories of anxiety, depression, my mother’s cancer, my grandmother’s death and my own pregnancy and subsequent Caesarean section. My greatest bodily trauma and bundle of joy arrived on the heels of the '#metoo' movement and caused me to further reflect on the state of American/Western society as experienced by women. My work has since changed dramatically, no longer relying on those previous filters of clean abstraction, but instead uses volatile watercolour, collage, studio remnants, lint, medical tape, staples, hot glue and more, to expressively illustrate what so many women go through but are not encouraged to discuss."
ON REPRESENTATIONS OF MOTHERHOOD
"It is difficult not to fall prey to social ideations of motherhood and womanhood. On my Instagram feed people often respond to a pregnant woman more positively than they do a mother. It’s like there is this very small window where our potential is greater than the actual and we can never really measure up. We are to simultaneously be a caregiver and also a pre-pregnancy version of ourselves. This is impossible and destructive. I have noticed that there are more realistic images of motherhood out there lately. Women opening up about their post-partum depression and post-baby bodies without self-deprecating, shaming, nor setting unreachable standards for others to meet."