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Mommy, Mama, Mother, Mum: Art-making and Caretaking as Complementary Practices
Mother-artists are caught between the cultural myths of the idealized maternal (“all-loving, all forgiving, and all sacrificing” ) and the idealized artist (consumed by one’s work, untethered by 1 home and family), and they live and work in the tension between these imaginary spaces. Using traditional media and artifacts of child-rearing, Laura Ajayi and April Matisz unpack social constructions of motherhood and feminine identity, making them visible and opening them up for evaluation and re-invention. Working while mothering challenges capitalist ideals of efficiency and productivity: studio work is snatched during nap-times, and in brief, unpredictable moments when children are occupied. By blurring the lines between domestic and studio spaces, Ajayi and Matisz interrogate whether the demands and obligations inherent in mothering could inform rather than limit the creative process.
Ajayi and Matisz's exhibition, Mommy, Mama, Mother, Mum, opens at Casa September 8 and runs until October 19.
Laura Ajayi (BFA ‘09, University of Lethbridge) is a mother-artist and educator based in Ottawa, Ontario. In addition to the productive work of mothering, Ajayi has exhibited her work nationally and facilitated studio arts programming in Ontario, Alberta and Nunavut. In 2016, her work was selected for exhibition in Voices for the Vote at Borealis Gallery on the Alberta Legislature grounds. She has been featured in publications in New York and the United Kingdom and has recently been accepted to the MOTHRA Parent-Artists Residency in Toronto.
Ajayi has an immersive, home-based practice that is informed by the sensory and intellectual load of domestic life and child-rearing. Rooted in the tradition of self-portraiture, Ajayi works primarily in drawing, fiber arts and photography to explore relationships between sensuality and domesticity, perceptions of feminine identities, and the (abject) maternal.
April Matisz (BSc, Biology ‘05, University of Victoria; BFA ‘09, University of Lethbridge) is a mother-artist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. She received the RCA C.D Howe Scholarship for Art and Design for her undergraduate art studio work, and in 2009 was awarded an internship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She has exhibited her work throughout Puerto Rico and Alberta, and is the recipient of an AFA individual artist grant.
Matisz’s practice spans drawing, printmaking, and painting. Her work draws on her knowledge of the sciences, exploring ecology, landscape, and phenomenology. Presently, she investigates aspects of Motherhood: the mother’s ambivalence, the suppression of her identity, her relationship to her children, and cultural narratives surrounding motherhood. The influence of the environment on the self, and the intersections of biology and culture, are themes found throughout her work.
Image: Laura Ajayi and April Matisz, Safe/Warm, 2018. Photo credit: Jesse Ajayi.
Organized by the Department of Art, in collaboration with Casa.
Free admission, everyone welcome!
Can't make it to campus for the lecture? Bring your lunch and catch it livestreaming at Casa (230 - 8 St. S.) in the ATB Financial Community Room!