THE MOTHER ARTISTS CAMPAIGN: Ballot Initiative
Motherhood is political. Yes it is.
Is there any facet of motherhood that it isn’t political? No there isn’t.
Motherhood is political. Power structures and systems dictate the well-being of mothers depending on their demographic status. From big-picture policy and law making to the ever-persistent minutiae of mommy shaming on social media, motherhood is not an even playing field.
At its best, motherhood brings meaning to one’s life. At its worst, it can be punitive, even deadly. Even the decision to participate in parenting is political. Motherhood is not neutral.
Mother art is political. No it isn’t.
There is no such thing as mother art. Yes there is.
Everything a woman of reproductive age makes is seen through this contradictory lens. She is praised and penalized through this fecundity-smudged lens. If she has children, she can expect feedback on whether to incorporate their needs in her art or rigorously exclude their lives from her practice, and she can expect people not to see this criticism as political. In this season when politics are much in the forefront of everyone’s minds, the Forty-Four Point Four Collective has produced commercially printed Coroplast signs to open new conversations about art-making and motherhood.Rather than placing hundreds of signs outside polling stations of the eve of an election, our members are moving the signs around Ottawa, posing with them in places we find meaningful. The Mother Artists Campaign: Ballot Initiative is a project in flux. The members of Forty-Four Point will install signs at various locations through the tenure of the project. We encourage people to engage with the project in person, should they come across us in action, or online through our website or Instagram.
The Forty-four Point Four Collective is a group of ten women artists in Ottawa and the Outaouais who have been meeting for the last 18 months. We have critiqued each other’s work, we have supported each other, and we have prodded each other to keep producing during a challenging time for artists everywhere. We were in the middle of planning our debut exhibition, “We’ll Only Show You the Good Parts,” when the pandemic hit. Art-sharing went online, as did most of our meetings. The current project, “Ballot Initiative” is the first installment in The Mother Artists Campaign. The entire project has been planned and produced within the framework of changing public health guidelines governing our social interactions and our shared materials. The Mother Artists Campaign, which will unfold into 2021, explores our new role in a city where everything and nothing are the same. What is our place as mother artists in this world? It’s a question we hadn’t even begun to answer for the “before”-world, much less now, in a dramatically changed world that has radically affected both parts of our identities as mothers and as artists.The Forty-four Point Four Collective is a group of mother artists, but we do not represent all mother artists. Motherhood is a broad, and not always inclusive term, and we want to question the term itself as much as we probe its relationship to art production. We recognize that both parenting and identifying as female are charged acts, and that people’s lived experiences includes an enormous diversity of views, privileges and opportunities. Our goal is start a new conversation, and we welcome all thoughtful reactions and contributions.