Did being involved in the literary world influence your idea of when you would be a mom, if you would at all?

I have never kept any sort of checklist in my mind of things to accomplish in a particular order. Also, it would never occur to me to regard work and parenthood mutually exclusive. I’ve always had this idea that both would be fine somehow, and having a supportive partner has a lot to do with that.

Has being a mother affected the way other people see your work or your identity as a professional?

No, not at all–at least, I hope not. Luckily, because I work from home, I’m able to control my own schedule and generally I’m able to fulfill my professional obligations without much trouble. But the truth is, I’m far less invested in my work identity than how I am perceived as a parent. I mean, I’m not Shakespeare. Anything that I will ever accomplish work-wise is ephemeral. My identity as a parent is the only thing that truly matters in the end.

How do you handle business and traveling for your career?

Recently I was on a book tour, but I tried to limit my time away as much a possible, doing day trips whenever I could. I love reading stories to my son before bedtime, talking to him about his day, and being home when he wakes up in the morning–so I try not to miss out on any of that. If I travel again for the paperback edition of my book, which is coming out this summer, I’ll limit the travel so that it doesn’t interfere too much with his schedule. (Or else I’ll bring him with me.) Most days, though, I’m just writing at my desk at home. I’m very lucky that my work doesn’t require lots of travel.

How do you see your work being influenced by becoming a mom? (i.e. Moral choices? Time choices? etc…)

Time is the big issue. I have always been someone who can work quickly under a deadline, but now I’m even faster. I’m just very aware that now I have less time in the day that is entirely my own, so each day I try to get my work out of the way as efficiently as possible. Sometimes I work late at night, after my son has gone to bed. But on any given week, there are still at least fifty things left on my “to-do” list, which is quite stressful. I’ve just tried to accept that part of being a parent means never having enough time to get stuff done. So I try to do the best I can, try not to agonize over what I’m not able to do. It’s hard.

In terms of moral choices and my work, I have never produced work that I’m deeply ashamed of. Mediocre work, sure, but nothing morally offensive. So I’d say that becoming a parent has influenced my work in more of a qualitative way–in the sense that I want to do things that will make my son proud someday. I feel myself taking more risks in my writing, aiming higher, thinking more deeply about the kinds of books I want to leave behind after I’m gone.

What practical advice, crazy story or your favorite tip, would you give to other moms in the literary world?

However brilliant your idea, or prestigious the publication, or lucrative the assignment, the next story or essay or novel can wait another hour. Take a break and go play with your kids.

http://www.carmelaciuraru.com/

New Interview: Kate Clark

December 7, 2011

How did having a child influence the way you create and sustain your work and how has it evolved?

I always imagined having children while making my work. I never planned to make the sacrifice of not working or not having children. I did wait until I was 36 to have my first child and I happened to start working with a gallery when I was 3 months pregnant. I had a C section and was back in the studio 2 weeks after my surgery (a little too soon!) but we set up a space in the studio and hired a babysitter to take care of my daughter from 9-5 in the studio so I could be close to her and continue breast feeding. I had a solo show seven months after my first daughter was born and I was grateful for the deadline. I had a good work/family balance and I didn’t have to listen to anyone suggest that I stay home. I made ambitious work and fortunately sold out my show—allowing me to continue making work and have a full time babysitter. I do push myself to make the best work I can so that my daughters will be proud of their mother.

How do you see your work being influenced as a direct influence of becoming a parent? (i.e. Moral choices? Time choices? Etc…)

My sense of TIME changed drastically. I used to work from 11am – 11:30pm and now can only work from 9-5, sometimes working a few hours after 8pm. I hear this from every mother—but each hour has become so focused—ie: I used to make 1 pair of ears in a day and now can make 5 pairs in the first half of the day. My schedule is healthier — I produce more work and am home in time to have dinner with my family, and take weekends off. I do find that my work has been too focused on “production”. I expand my sculptures through making but I wish I had more time to go to museums and art openings and other cultural events that would inspire me to make bigger changes. That’s something I hope to change and focus on as my daughters get a little older.

Has being a parent affected the way other people see your work or your identity as an artist?

I don’t mean to sound harsh but I just don’t care what other people think about this. It’s my life. My work is hard to make and the love and happiness I get from my family really helps push me through.

How do you handle traveling and exhibiting internationally for your career?

I’ve sold a lot of work internationally but I haven’t recently exhibited internationally. I was pregnant last year and applied to residencies only in NYC. I really wanted to do the Marie Walsh Sharpe residency. The application opened on Dec. 1st and I was due to have my second daughter on Dec 6th. I tried to apply on the 1st but the website was down so I had to wait until the 2nd… ugh—but I managed to get it done. I had my daughter on Dec 6th and then in January I received the call that I was awarded a Marie Walsh Sharpe studio—yay, I was very lucky.


What practical advice, crazy story or your favorite tip, would you give to other artists that are parents?

The advice I have is to find a balance (of time/energy) within your own family. You all know what you are offering to your family and you know that you are a good parent, so don’t let the nay sayers influence you. Also- set deadlines and take them seriously.

http://www.kateclark.com/

New Interview : SUSAN SILAS

November 21, 2011

How did having a child influence the way you create and sustain your work and how has it evolved?

It is still very complicated to talk about what it means for a woman to both have a child and have serious ambitions as an artist. I would qualify this somewhat by saying that it is easier if money is not a consideration but to be a mother, to earn a living, and to continue to make work is daunting and many women give up in the face of these demands. We all talk about how much more efficient we’ve become and how focused we’ve become, and all of this is no doubt true but it is also true that making work requires a certain amount of unfettered time and that becomes more and more difficult to achieve in the context of parenthood and for most women the demands are far greater on them than they are on the men. I don’t know how this falls out among same sex couples with small children but in my experience the women still did more of the parenting, shopping, cooking and cleaning, and this was true even if both partners worked outside the home and even if they both had creative lives. I don’t know that having a child influenced the content of my work in any way. I actually doubt it, although I can’t know what I would have made in her absence. I do know that one makes many sacrifices to raise a child properly and that sustaining one’s work requires serious determination. Having said all of this, I think having my daughter was the best thing I have ever done. And I say this looking at the long view, because my child just left home this fall to go to college. I miss her intensely but I also see more open space in front of me.

How do you see your work being influenced as a direct influence of becoming a parent? (i.e. Moral choices? Time choices? Etc…)

In terms of content of my work, the choices were delineated before she was born. On the other hand, my work did change at around the time she was born and continued to evolve in striking new ways. I think of this as having been the consequence of many factors, including the collapse of the art market around the time of her birth and I would probably attribute my career development to those historical factors too, so it would be difficult to sort out how much had to do with having a child and how much had to do with a material reality that had nothing to do with motherhood. Those realities affected how I used my time but also gave me a great deal of freedom to develop without ever considering the market place. And the work was shown primarily in institutions and not-for-profit spaces. On the other hand, these same issues meant having to spend a good deal of time making a living and this meant time away from her and from my studio. I will say that I think that I am making the best work I have ever made and that perhaps she has influenced me in ways I don’t even understand. She is a very special creature with a strong moral compass and someone who enriches my life every day, so it’s hard to know.

Has being a parent affected the way other people see your work or your identity as an artist?

Despite all the lip service that is paid to “equality”, women who choose to have a child or children are thought to have chosen motherhood over their art careers. No one ever thinks this about male artists who have children. When I was in graduate school the women who were becoming seriously successful were all childless and still are. Over the years, I have listened to shockingly nasty comments from other women artists who don’t have children and I even have friends who seem to think that I stopped making work to be a parent and then resumed working when she was grown, which is not the case. Part of this was of course, that I worked more slowly when she was small because the demands on my time were greater but part of it was also just rebuilding momentum after the collapse of the market in the early ‘90’s. When my career began to recover the work was being shown in Europe and not in the United States and I was less visible here. I’m not sure that would have been so different had I not had a child. I did have many friends who gave up and stopped making work in the aftermath of the disappointment created by the crash of the early ‘90’s.

How do you handle traveling and exhibiting internationally for your career?

I never didn’t travel because I had a child. When my daughter small, even as young as 14 months, her father looked after her if I had an exhibition in Europe. It was difficult to arrange but it got done. Now of course, I no longer have to worry about it. But I wasn’t able to take advantage of residential fellowships until she was old enough for sleep-away camp and those residencies have proven extremely helpful and would have facilitated my work earlier had they been possible.

What practical advice, crazy story or your favorite tip, would you give to other artists that are parents?

The one time saving advice I have is don’t worry so much. Worrying is time consuming and it doesn’t help or change anything. It’s one less thing to do when you need uninterrupted time more than you need anything else.

http://www.susansilas.com/

How did having a child influence the way you create and sustain your work and how has it evolved?

It didn’t really, except that I am hyper-scheduled and organized while simultaneously being prepared for my schedule to fall apart at any moment. I want my daughter to be proud of me, and this motivates me when I am tired.

How do you see your work being influenced as a direct influence of becoming a mom? (i.e. Moral choices? Time choices? Etc…)

My relationship with time has changed dramatically. I compartmentalize (including emotionally) quite a bit more than I used to, and I get a lot more done in an hour than I did before I had a child. I don’t really have time to “hang out” unless it has something to do with my work, so my social life has changed. It isn’t bad, however, I love being more focused and in the moment wherever I am.

Has being a mother affected the way other people see your work or your identity as an artist?

Initially a lot of people (mostly women, actually) asked me, “Are you still making work?” I was shocked. No one asks my husband if he is still making work. I was pretty grouchy about this for a while, but I’m over it now. I think stereotypes are so entrenched that women probably ask this question because the are afraid of the dire predictions about the intersection of women, family and art. I don’t go to as many openings, and to be honest, people forget about you pretty quickly if they don’t see you all the time.

How do you handle traveling and exhibiting internationally for your career?

Traveling with a 2 year old is not fun in any context, so I avoid it at all costs.

What practical advice, crazy story or your favorite tip, would you give to other artists that are mothers?

Give yourself 6 months (this was my mom’s advice & she was right) to go back to the studio fully, but plan on making stuff at home. I worked on watercolors and studies, so when I went back the studio I was eager and ready. Try to ignore all the shitty advice people give you and always be professional, be yourself and don’t expect life to be perfect. It is important for our work and our kids and our lives to live on our own terms, and not on the terms of some gallery director who hates children. There are a lot of kick-ass artists & gallerists & curators who are moms (and dads) of young children in LA right now–keep your eyes open for them. The best advice I can offer to any future artist-moms/dads? Pick a solid partner to help you raise your child who will split the responsibilities evenly without whining. If you are doing it on your own, find a group of supportive parents and ask for help when you need it. Also, remember to say “thank you”.Parents get tired and forget that friends and peers have to deal with our kids in order to maintain relationships, and it isn’t always easy for them.

http://www.elizabethtremante.com/

New Interview: Kristine Moran

September 23, 2011

How did having a child influence the way you sustain your work and how has
 it evolved?

The first three months of my daughter Violet’s life were a huge eye opener. I hadn’t realized up until then just how much my life as an artist was going to change. After Violet was born, I moved my art studio into my apartment so that I could get little snippets of work done whenever possible, mainly at night, while Violet was sleeping. On the days that were dedicated to the studio, I would have someone baby sit Violet. Even so, my studio practice became fragmented into 3 or 4 hour segments to allow time for breast-feeding. Because my painting process is often wet on wet, only small sections could be worked on at a time. Otherwise unfinished areas would dry while I was busy with my daughter. When Violet was about 3 months old, I began making work for a solo exhibition that was coming up later that year. This only added undue stress to a situation that I was just beginning to adapt to. As the exhibition date neared, I tried working late nights, sometimes going to sleep around 3am with a 6 am wake-up from Violet. These kinds of hours almost did me in, but I got through it somehow. Things are much easier now. As soon as Violet turned 10 months, I moved my art studio into a warehouse building a 5 minute walk away from home. It couldn’t be more ideal. The short commute means that I get to have a maximum amount of time with Violet when at home and when at the studio I can focus explicitly on my art practice without the distraction of hearing little footsteps outside my door. 



How do you see your work being influenced as a direct influence of becoming
a mom? (i.e. Moral choices? Time choices? Etc…)

When I was pregnant, I thought I would want to change the direction of my art practice in a way that would be much more optimistic. In the past I dealt with subject matter that was distopic in nature. After having Violet, and coming to terms with the fact that I would be having very little sleep in my life, I decided that the only logical direction for my painting to go was to respond to my newly changed world. This led to a series of paintings that investigate the divided self. It stemmed from wanting to find a balance between my new role as a mother while continuing to nurture my artistic practice. Insomnia, sleepwalking and nightly hallucinations also played heavily into this new series. The painted figures in these works transform into shadowy, fragmented shapes, floating against a nocturnal landscape.




Did being involved in the artworld influence your idea of when you would be 
a mom, if you would at all?

Motherhood is something I had in the back of my mind throughout my twenties and early thirties, but was waiting for the right moment to make it happen. After graduating from Hunter with an MFA and working full time in the studio for a couple of years, I began to feel that I had reached a level of emotional maturity and security that would enable me to dedicate myself to motherhood in a way that would be fulfilling and continue to sustain my art practice. 

Has being a mother affected the way other people see your work or your
identity as a professional? In the past, I’ve had male dealers and curators tell me to never get married or have children, because I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I did, this of course only applied to women artists. Luckily my current gallery dealer, who is a woman and has a kid, does not believe this to be true. She knows first hand that family/work balance does exist. In addition to this, many of the women artists represented by the gallery also have children and are doing exceptionally well as artists. These days, more and more women artists are having children and don’t feel the need to hide it, it’s a very powerful thing. It sets up the precedence that women, just like men, are to be taken seriously as artists, even after becoming parents.


How do you handle business and traveling for your career?

I’ll be traveling to Toronto for a group show this fall and plan on taking Violet with me, since we have family living there and they love to babysit her. In the future, I imagine that for shorter trips I would leave her at home with her dad, and for longer trips, take her with me and figure out some type of babysitting arrangement once there.

What practical advice, crazy story or your favorite tip, would you give to
other artworld moms?

Do not schedule a solo exhibition within the first year of having a baby if at all possible, wait it out and enjoy the time with your child without the stress of having a big deadline. Having said that, do keep your practice active by continuing to work whenever possible through out that first year. I waited 6 weeks after Violet was born to make a small sized painting. Those 6 weeks felt like an eternity to be out of the studio. That first painting is one of the most frenetic works I’ve done. Every brush stroke seems urgent and hurried. I remember feeling the need to get that painting out as quickly as possible, in between cries from Violet.
Also, if you can only get into the studio part-time, as I did at the beginning, I found that having 3 consecutive days was very helpful, as oppose to every other day. My first day back in the studio was really just getting back into the right headspace. By day 2, things were really coming together, and on the 3rd and last day, I would give a big push to get as much work done as possible, knowing that I had 4 days ahead of me where I couldn’t come in. This last day was usually very satisfying, as I would get a ton of work done, and then be rewarded by having the next 4 consecutive days to spend with Violet.

http://www.kristinemoran.com

How did having a child influence the way you create and sustain your work and how has it evolved?

Interruption would be the defining word….. My artistic method is now more than ever defined by economical means and conceptual practices. After having a child, my work became increasingly shaped by my resentment for the impossibility, the abyss between being a mother and functioning well as an artist. I am not able to keep consistent work hours and a studio while being employed full time and providing for a small child. I call most of my work in the past 3 years – Naptime productions.

How do you see your work being influenced as a direct influence of becoming a mom? (i.e. Moral choices? Time choices? Etc…)

My art making is now more than ever a clear picture of balancing guilt, the other side of the scale – directly opposite of my appropriateness as a maternal care provider. My decision to continue making art in precious, time constricted intervals that keep being interrupted, questioned and measured by my family and colleagues has become an integral, conscious part of my work. Most of the time I am bluffing. Convincing people that I need time because I am making something revolutionary and important [which to a woman artist does not come so naturally and is a learned behavior]. Far from it. If I do get time, I end up spending most of it on just getting settled down to work. Between a moment when I do get ready to work and a moment when the guilt of “how do I justify this” and “my child needs me” settles in – there is a short period of time when I actually make some work.

Has being a mother affected the way other people see your work or your identity as an artist?

Unsettled and inspired by actual situations, my work consists of collages, texts, found objects and spatial interventions which employ visual gestures of testing, contempt, and refusal to play by the rules in order to resist the norms and indoctrinations I am now hurdled with on my own terrain. This work, made in and marked by the years since my child’s birth, focuses on what happens to people when they are confronted with „mothering” in contemporary, urban, transient, non-spaces ruled by high speed mobility – where it actually happens – as opposed to domestic, intimate places where they usually imagine raising small children takes place.

One good example of a work created in response to how other people now perceive me would be a group of works I made during 2010 titled BABY CAN’T.

A BABY CAN”T GO TO A VERNISSAGE.

As my friendly curator told me….babies are not welcomed. This particular one was in a NYC museum

I find myself queasy just thinking of going to something [now] called a vernissage. I have visions of creaking floors, older men with cold sweaty hands and cattle markets. ECCE MAMA [2010-2011] was created in response -it is a series of “collages”. My son is growing. He walks around and touches things. His senses are running full speed. Un-dulled. He is never tired. He brings me trophies. He regularly presents me with evidence of his findings. ECCE MAMA are piles of that maternal stuff: used napkins, plants, crumpled things, half eaten food, animal parts, horrifyingly dangerous things that need to be explained and named, dead things, etc. I have kept each unsanitary pile collection. I have also lacquered them in the pompous high gloss pretentiousness and preciousness fit for an authentic vernissage. I have given them the dated, biblical, Nietzschean title ECCE MAMA. I am presented, reframed, defined, judged and vernissaged as a mother artist.

How do you handle traveling and exhibiting internationally for your career?

In September 2011 I will be making my first child free, 5 day trip to another continent for the purposes of installing my exhibition. In the past 3 years I have not separated from my child for more than 24 hours – my choices were either taking him with me or declining projects, residencies etc. Whenever I did take him with me it was very evident to me that institutions that invited me did not even consider the possibility of an artist being a mother.

Most of this limited mobility is in truth caused by my economic situation. I am not able to travel – not because it is hard to do with a small child or because having a child present somehow downgrades the experience of installing an exhibition or giving a presentation. The reason that makes this impossible for me is that most of the time I cannot take time off work and lose a paycheck.

What practical advice, crazy story or your favorite tip, would you give to other artists that are mothers?

Resentment is a great motivator.

Interrupted work is interesting.

Keeping a straight face while pushing a stroller around NYC for 3 years is a performance piece of endurance and mental control worthy of Marina Abramovic.

How did having a child influence the way you create and sustain your work and how has it evolved?

I’m not totally sure how motherhood has influenced my creative process. It has not changed my core concepts. Perhaps it has reinforced my belief in making art that effects the way people perceive themselves and others and hopefully help people think beyond their boxes and find enough common ground to get past the confinements of entitlement and disenfranchisement. I have moved away from the grotesque, it was never a major component in my work but i do think about how my children might respond to the work.The biggest change has been a reorganization of priorities as well as a more relaxed approach to my artist existence. I decided to be come a mother while being an artist and found that i could still have a practice. I then realized that i was just going to be an artist for the rest of my life and I was going to be a Mother for the rest of my life. There is no deadline. My practice is just part of who i am. It has to be nurtured like a child but it can learn to share time with its siblings.

How do you see your work being influenced as a direct influence of becoming a mom? (i.e. Moral choices? Time choices? etc…)

Before motherhood I had a more nocturnal practice and my home was a studio with a bed. I also spent a lot more time in the studio staring at work or reading about work. I went to more galleries and parties, drank more, generally more social. I think all of the things that comprise the artist lifestyle feeds into the artist work and they are good things. I definably miss the spontaneity. However there is something to be said for working in the daytime on a schedule and developing a routine that compartmentalizes and prioritizes. It make me more efficient and consistent. In order to maintain my practice i have had to develop a plan of action as well as a fare amount of ease. I have learned I’d rather be in studio than at a show.

Has being a mother affected the way other people see your work or your identity as an artist?

I don’t really know. Generally other people have been very encouraging. I have my paranoia and general negative assumptions. I think the general perception is Motherhood is a career killer but that is a very masculine all or nothing point of view that i think is changing.

What practical advice, crazy story or your favorite tip, would you give to other artists that are mothers?

With both of my children was making art within a week of leaving the hospital as long as your medium is not toxic they can be strapped to your back or chest while you work. In those first weeks and months they can learn to adapt to your schedule. Don’t feel bad leaving them with a sitter so you can go to the sitter. Make time for your work . A happy mommy is a better mommy.

Summer 2011

July 27, 2011

it’s summer time and it seems as if time escapes us. we’ve been collecting interviews for quite sometime now and we’re going to start to post them on the front page so that it’s fresh. We also wanna mention a couple of cool things we’ve come across.

First, “The Milk Truck” The Milk Truck is the creation of Jill Miller – artist and faculty member in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Milk Truck will be included in the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial at the Andy Warhol Museum from September 26 – December 10.

http://www.themilktruck.org/Home.html

Second, the girl’s club. It’s a private foundation and alternative space established in 2006 by Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz. They produce exhibitions, educational programming. publications and events that change lives, nurture local artists and inspire cultural growth

http://girlsclubcollection.org/

hello brooklyn MOMTRA

March 8, 2010

We’re back! after a long year of projects and a new baby, we think we’ve got our act together enough to look around and share what’s happing. To start with we’re doing lots of new interviews with many moms on many continents and then we’re updating our link to resources because int the last year there has been an explosion of new sites! And we always look forward to hearing for you and your stories, so please share with us about exhibitions, studio and all the mom stuff in between.

-from the ladies at MOMTRA