Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood

The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood
book by Rachel Power
Red Dog Books, 2011

Since I became mother, I realized my art changed dramatically and I just didn't happen to see any mirrors around me showing me the picture of myself as mom-artist. I would have ideas about every single aspect of my experience and I didn't quite know where to put them. Who was interested in motherhood? Was my art of any value if I centered it around this profound yet everyday topic? I began to notice that my fellow mom-artists had the same concern. So, we somehow started to stick together on social networks exchanging each others mom-art and information. 

One lovely afternoon I was hanging out at my friend's Kate's house in Bali, while our daughters were having a play date. Kate is a single mom, jewelry designer and songwriter. Well, she's a lot more, a very talented artist and a great woman all together. She's Australian and she gave me this book saying, "I think you might like it". I must say I rarely happen to grab a book published in Australia. I don't know why they hardly reach European market. And it's such a shame. So, I gave it a look, and after two months or so of intermittent reading in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in bed, I finished it. 

I finally found a mirror. So much similar to the one my mother put in my sister's room while she completely renovated it and made it look like a memory she had of her childhood. My sister wasn't very pleased about this change that happened without her consent or even a consultation, but instead of getting mad she accepted it and decided to study it. There is this century old oval mirror framed in carved wood rising behind a freshly restored beauty desk. It's beautiful and brings up nostalgia, but the mirror is foggy and cloudy, eroded by moist. My mother preferred to keep it "original" and didn't want to change it with a clear new one. She had her memories impressed in that reflection. There is no use of it if you want to properly put a make up on, not even a rouge. Yet, we accept it as a symbol.

Well, this book is like this mirror for me in sense that I can see myself in it, I can see my mother in it and my grandmother and my great-grandmother and all the women of the past and present. I don't see myself in my mother's example of motherhood, as I can't quite accept the messy self-reflection on her mirror. I want to be a "different" mother, but I AM actually that messy, that foggy and that cloudy as a mother. So are all the artists interviewed in this book. And I am so grateful to the author Rachel Power to have put it up together for the benefit of every mom-artist's soul, and I immensely thank her fellow Melbournian mom-artist and my precious friend Kate Fleming for letting me participate to this fabulous community. I wish there was such a supporting and self-reflecting bunch of great mom-artists in every place I call home (Bali, Rome, Croatia...) as it seems to be in Melbourne.

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