well, there's always the food...
It's my first Mother's Day as an empty nester...my two boys are both out west, finishing up their semesters at college. In their early years, finding the time and focus for my art work was a challenge of course--nobody gets through that stage of life without sacrifices and frantic juggling of time and energy. Somehow I was able to keep on with my studio work, or some scaled down version of it, through it all. As time went on, the expectation that I would have my studio time took root in our family dynamic, and things got easier. This photo was taken at my first solo gallery show, at the now-defunct Suzanne Kohn Gallery in Minneapolis/St.Paul in 1994. You can't see it in the picture, but my son's other arm is in a cast (in the midst of my last-minute show preparations I got a call from the school secretary asking if his arm normally curved like a banana or had he really been hurt as badly as he claimed on the playground?)
When I talk to young artists wondering if they can fit kids into their creative lives, I can only offer the kind of encouragement that based on personal experience, that for me (aided by my very supportive husband) it was doable and worth every struggle. I had almost no role models myself--personally knew no artist/parents that I could look to for advice or encouragement--when we had our first child in the year after I finished my MFA. I was terrified that I would lose every art cell in my brain to the haze of hormones, infant demands and the baby-centered world I found myself in. In desperation, I guess, I set myself the project of processing the experience through my work, in a series of abstracted growing plants, seeds, and birth canals. This was the beginning of motherhood feeding into my work, which continues to this day. From the time they were small, my kids have led me in directions of thought and understanding that I would never have anticipated.
Of course, this is my perspective...I wonder sometimes how it was for my boys to have an artist for a mother. Getting dragged to openings, competing with paintings for my attention, and having an unconventional mother in a very conventional community were probably not always easy. Still I hope they benefited from being so close to my art life. They grew up knowing that besides being their mother, I was also committed to my work and doing what I love. At 18 and 21, they are now fastantic young men with deep creative capacities of their own.
Old photos like this one tug at my emotions but really, I am happy to be in the present--off now to take my own mother to lunch and to shop at our favorite garden center for spring plants. Wishing a good Mother's Day to all--