Monday, June 1, 2015

Interview: Courtney Kessel

In Balance With
We are thoroughly pleased to feature an interview with artist, mother, academic and arts administrator Courtney Kessel, who strives to make visible the quiet, understated, and often unseen love and labor of motherhood. Employing sculpture, performance, video, and sound, her work transcends the local binary of public/ private and extends into the repositioning of the ongoing, non-narrative, excessive dialogic flow that occurs within the domestic space. 

Born in 1974 in Pittsburgh, PA, Kessel has exhibited her work internationally, including New Maternalisms at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago Chile, FAMILY MATTERS: Living and Representing Today’s Family, Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy, the Tampa Museum of Art, Exit Art, New York, NY, St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Art and with the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. She was included in Renegades: 25 Years of Performance at Exit Art (2007). Kessel is the Exhibitions & Events Coordinator for The Dairy Barn Arts Center, and teaches in the School of Art at Ohio University. Find more of her work at www.courtneykessel.com

Interview by Christina LaMaster for Cultural ReProducers
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Cultural ReProducers:  Courtney, I would assume that most people familiar with your work know that you have a daughter.  Can you tell us a little bit about her?

Courtney Kessel:  My daughter, Chloé Cash Clevenger, is 10 years old. She is named for the fresh blade of grass in the spring and after Johnny Cash, who died earlier that year.  She is a confident person who will try different foods (at least once), listen to a variety of music, talk to people without discrimination of age, sex, or race, and is super creative in her play.  Right now, she is making a sidewalk chalk obstacle course with objects along the two streets that border our house.

CR: How do you find a balance between parenthood, artmaking, and making ends meet? How has parenthood impacted your creative practice?

Courtney: I think it is apparent in my work that I have made a definitive choice to be transparent about my maternity.  In fact, I use it as a vehicle for discussion.  Placing the private and domestic in the gallery performs a maternal visibility that has not often been seen, let alone been permitted.  The strangest thing of all is the fact that we all have mothers.  There is this weird unwritten thing of invisibility of motherhood, like it’s supposed to just happen and not be talked about, especially not in the gallery. While it is the most common experience among women, it is the least represented BY women.  Most of the maternal artwork done has been that of amazing, talented painters USING the maternal as a point of departure to represent woman and child, not speaking FROM it.

Achieving balance is a constant struggle that has its roots in adjustment.  When I was in grad school (2009-2012), I made my day 9-5 except when classes met in the evenings and I hired a sitter. Many days, Chloe would be in the studio with me and sometimes had to come with me to class.  Naturally, I would take my work home.  Then the work started to come from ‘home’.  I began to take the domestic space and put it in the gallery.  Now, I work full time at a non-profit art gallery and am still trying to figure out how to come home at 5 or 6pm, sometimes go to violin or soccer, make dinner, get her to bed and still have enough energy to get into the small bedroom that I call my studio.  In 2011, I did the performance piece, In Balance With, as a way to illustrate the absurdity of that balance!  We have performed that piece almost once a year since then.  It has become a portrait or still of us at that moment which reflects the ‘current’ balance structure. It is constantly changing. 

CR: Can you share a little about your experience returning to a studio practice after having a newborn? Any strategies or tips you’d recommend (or recommend avoiding!) to other artist-parents for getting through that phase?  

Courtney:  I had uprooted from NYC to Morehead, Kentucky, six months pregnant, so everything was new to me then.  As I spent my days breastfeeding and changing diapers, that experience began to inform my practice.  I made breast milk drawings and used it as a mixing medium, but that felt like a stepping-stone.  It felt natural to be using these materials, as they were what I was around all the time.  Later, my practice shifted to be less about the newness and bodiliness of maternity and more about how I felt as a mother.  The specificity of being a mother is something that not all women have.  That is the distinct difference between the Feminist work being done in the 70s during the second wave.  A lot of work was being done ABOUT women and women’s experience, but not a lot was about motherhood. Thanks to those artists working in the second wave, we can continue the conversation and open it up to include a dialog with maternity.  Then it was (and is still) frowned upon to be a (female) artist AND be a mother, not even to consider MAKING art about that experience.  I think I just got on a soap box…

CR:  Who have been your models for artist-parenting / parent-artisting?

Courtney:  I feel like at the time I became a parent (2004) I didn’t really have any! I was going on the fact that if I didn’t make, I would die.  Based on that, I applied to proposal-based things and if I got it, I’d make it.  Like assignments, these things just kept me going. Eventually, my practice evolved into a sort of protest where my Feminist foremothers (Mary Kelly and Mierle Laderman Ukeles) paved the way for me to make the work that I make now.  Like I said before, there weren’t that many (known) mothers in the gallery.  Now, I have so many peers working along themes of the maternal!  So many that I’m afraid to list them, but I’ll try because they deserve acknowledgement: Lise Haller Baggesen, Lenka Clayton, Natalie Loveless, Alejandra Herrera Silva, Jill Miller, Christen Clifford, Marni Kotak, just to name a few! Then there are the scholars writing about the maternal: Rachel Epp Buller, Natalie and Lise (above), Jennie Klein, Lisa Baraitser not to mention the heavy hitters: Mary Kelly, Griselda Pollock, Bracha Ettinger, Sarah Ruddick, Andrea Liss, Patricia DiQuinzio… I should stop because there are so many and this list is by no means comprehensive.

The point is that that very specific experience of being a mother, while different for everyone, is still all about an Other person!  No matter when or where we go, that Other is always a part of our lives.  I think this could be part of the "maternal gaze" that you speak about in your work, Chrissy. I address this in my work as the “stuff” in our lives.  If you are a mother (and I can only speak to being a mother, not a father), you have this stuff in your life that someone who does not have children will not have.  You know what I’m talking about: strollers, car seats, clothing, toys, books, bikes, skates, dolls, diapers, bottles, baby slings/carriers...that’s just the physical stuff.  There is also the mental stuff.  If you are a mother, you are always a mother.  From the mountain of “stuff” that goes onto the seesaw (In Balance With) to the free standing sculptures of ‘stuff’ (Mother Lode), I am addressing this fact of life with child as opposed to without.

CR:  Has having children affected your relationship with the art world? What would
you like to see change to make that community more inclusive and accessible for artists with families?

Courtney:  The thing is, I am not all for making everything available to children.  As a feminist and a woman in general, I am for equality in the gallery, as with other aspects of life.  If it is fine and maybe even lucrative for a male artist to be a father and be successful in the gallery, then it should also be for a female artist...though we all know it’s not. I mean, who cares if this or that artist is a mother?!? Let her make the work and judge the work accordingly!  Critically.  Theoretically, in the context of the contemporary dialogue.  The above scholars are making the maternal a definitive part of the discourse.

CR:  What about attending openings, lectures or other events as a mother/artist?  Do you sometimes wish there were or feel there is a need for more venues that provide child care or a kid friendly room where parents could nurse or take a break with children they bring to the event? Would that have been beneficial to you earlier in your career?

Courtney:  When Chloé was 10 months old, I had a sculpture installation in an outdoor exhibition in Dumbo. It was an 8’ in diameter nest made out of saplings, fabric, plastic, and other found materials.  It was human scaled and during the opening, which was outside, Chloé was hungry and tired, so I started to nurse her in the nest.  She fell asleep and I laid her down and covered her up.  So many comments were made as to ‘where the mother is’ (scolding) and ‘what a realistic sculpture’ (it couldn’t be about maternity) and ‘where is the artist’ (disbelief)? I feel that those three comments really speak to the state of lack that mothers have in terms of merging family and career.  Later during our visit to NYC, we went to a party for Diesel, the clothing company. It was a posh rooftop pool party in the city.  What was AMAZING to me then (2005) was that on the first floor, they had a child-watching play space.  There were people there to watch your children while you went upstairs to have some time sans children.  I didn’t leave her because she was so young (I felt - new mother…), but it did make me feel like having the baby around was acceptable.  We even got in the pool for awhile!

CR:  Wow, now I'm curious if having children around is more acceptable in the music world, or the fashion world — I hadn’t really considered that before.   

Speaking of your daughter, Chloé is a frequent collaborator of yours, and you have spoken about allowing her to make decisions regarding her contributions to the work; I’m thinking specifically of In Balance With, where Chloe decides the performance is over.  Do you have a feeling for how long Chloé will want to be a collaborator, or be referenced in your work, and how do you think your work and practice might change if/when she decides she is no longer interested?  Later this month photographer Sally Mann’s memoir will be released, and in it she discusses some of the many issues she has dealt with as a result of her monograph Immediate Family.  Have you ever felt conflicted about working with Chloe or referencing her in your work?

Courtney:  I absolutely have felt conflicted about having Chloé participate in my work.  At the beginning, she was very innocent about understanding the work, but the more we talked about it, the more she kind of understood it.  The video piece, Sharing Space, originated from being in a restaurant with freezing cold A.C.  She was cold and put her arms into my cardigan while I was wearing it.  She said that would be a cool performance and I agreed.  I planned to record this action in a variety of scenarios in the studio one day, which led to the edited video work.  As she gets older, her level of participation grows and changes.  The first time we performed In Balance With, I had NO idea how it would end!  It wasn’t until we had reached a balance that I asked if she wanted to come down.  She said no.  It was then that I realized the piece would be over when she was ‘finished’ with it.  It became a direct reference about me and my work.  I could not do my work unless she was occupied and content. When she is done with something or needs something, I am interrupted with the unknown timeframe as to when I will be able to return to my work.  That is how she came to determine the end.  It wasn’t really a collaboration.

The fact remains that while she is an integral role to some works, the majority of my work is speaking from the voice of a mother: my voice.  I know, as with most children, that she will grow “out of” hanging with and doing things with her mother.  I think that my work is in direct relationship to us, like a portrait or a film still.  While we are so intricately involved (less now than when breastfeeding and learning to walk, etc.), my work reflects that.  Who knows what will happen later? What remains is that I am still a mother and will always be. So where my work may directly involve my daughter now, it may respond to only my experience later.  I just think that every day is so different with children as they grow and change and we constantly adjust…. One day she said to me, “Mom, your artwork is all about me” and I said, “No, actually it is not ABOUT you, it is BECAUSE of you”...

CR (Christina LaMaster):  A lot of my own recent work deals with motherhood, mothering and the maternal gaze.  Many artists, gallery directors and graduate school professors have warned against this content  because the work will not be taken seriously, and that only other mothers will be interested.  I have also been accused of being exclusive: I’m a white, middle class, hetero-normative mother and my work is mainly about the experiences of others with similar backgrounds.  Have you ever encountered these types of critiques?


Courtney: I personally have not had that kind of criticism of only mothers being interested or about being exclusive.  I think it’s so interesting that people feel the need to include everyone!  How would I know how it feels to father?  How could I understand the dynamics of being a lesbian mother? An African American mother? I just hope that by offering my own personal story, others will bring their experiences to the discussion. Young children relate to the work because they recognize their own mothers mothering similarly.  College students understand it because they remember it or have younger siblings who they see their mother taking care of.  Fathers recognize it. Grandparents remember it.  Like I said earlier, in a sense I feel that by putting my maternal experience in the gallery, it is a protest for all those artists, gallery directors, and grad school professors who STILL feel that the experience of
being a mother is not valid enough, critical enough, or fertile enough to be in the critical/economical/theoretical discourse of the gallery.

CR:  Would you be willing to share a little bit about what you are working on
currently?

Courtney: Yes, some of the current work deals with the domestic space and the "stuff" of having a child mentioned earlier. I've been photographing spaces in my home then taking the prints and cutting out everything that is about Chloé, by Chloé, or of Chloé. The series is called "Without Chloé". It's very haunting and kind of sculptural. I'm still in the very early stages of it and need to think about how it will live.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Artist-Run Events: All-Ages Breakdancing and Doing it All

We’re excited to share not just one, but two great events coming up this June as part of the Cultural ReProducers Artist-Run Series: intergenerational happenings designed by artists throughout the city in conjunction with exhibitions, residencies, and other projects. Participants of all ages are welcome. Hope you can join us!


Saturday, June 13th , 1-4pm 
Shandy Break
Cultural ReProducers + SHoP


Hyde Park Free Theater

1448 E 57th Street, Hyde Park

Interdisciplinary artist and SHoP organizer Laura Shaeffer  teams up  with Jonathan St. Clair and the Stick and Move Youth Crew to host this  all-ages event at the Hyde Park Free Theater, the newest art space on Chicago’s South side. Enjoy some great music, an ice-cold shandy (or a lemonade) and the chance to learn how to breakdance through an interactive all-ages workshop. Whether you’re five or fifty-five, enjoy learning and teaching one another new moves followed by a performance by the Youth Crew. This event is open to the public, with a suggested donation of $5 per person, or whatever you can contribute.

Learn more about the group and the Summer Intensive Dance Camp at www.stickandmoveyouth.com



Saturday, June 27th, 3-4pm
The Art of Doing it All (well, sort of...)

Printer’s Ball at Spudnik Press
1821 W. Hubbard, Suite 302, Chicago


Cultural ReProducers hosts a roundtable discussion with artists Christa Donner, Fred Sasaki, and Selina Trepp exploring creative strategies to manage the push and pull of cultural work, paying the bills, and parenthood. Presented in conjunction with the zine "Propositions, Manifestos, and Experiments," this conversation will be relevant to anyone working toward a more sustainable creative practice, non-parents included.

If you'll have kids along, let us know: we'll provide some simple art supplies to keep them busy during the conversation.


Now in its 11th year, Printers Ball is an annual celebration of literary culture and printmaking brings together printers, writers, publishers, artists, readers, collectors, students, teachers, makers, and consumers to embrace the push and pull that is integral to a dynamic community. The festival features live printmaking demonstrations, roundtable discussions, collaborative art-making projects, a marketplace, music, food, drinks and live performances.

To help keep Printers Ball accessible to artists and writers raising kids, space will be available throughout the day for nursing mothers and families who need to get away from the action for a bit.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Interview: Judith Brotman


Judith and Marcia Brotman, 2014
This Mother's Day we're putting a twist on the theme of artmaking and family life. Judith Brotman is not a parent herself. Since her mother's health issues took hold more than fifteen years ago, Judith has overseen her care on many levels. This deep and often challenging commitment has played a profound role in Judith's creative and career choices ever since.

Judith Brotman is an artist and educator from Chicago. Her work includes mixed media installations and theatrical immersive environments which occupy a space between sculpture and drawing. More recent work incorporates language/text-based conceptual projects which are also meditations on the possibility of transformation. She has exhibited extensively in Chicago & throughout the US, including exhibitions at Threewalls, Chicago Cultural Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Gallery 400, Illinois State Museum, The Bike Room, INOVA, the DeVos Art Museum, Hampshire College, The Smart Museum of Art, SOFA Chicago, The Society of Arts & Crafts, Boston, & The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. We are honored to share this conversation with her here.

CR: First, tell us a little bit about your mother.

Judith: My mother’s name is Marcia Brotman.  She is 94 and lives in an assisted living facility.  She grew up in Brooklyn, and graduated as a Spanish major from Brooklyn College.  She worked as a translator in an export company until she married and moved to Chicago. My mother was the youngest of seven children, growing up in a family of very little means; her most prized possession was a complete set of Dickens bought for her when she was a teenager by one of her brothers. My mother is a tougher cookie than she ever admitted in her younger years; she’s also very smart and has an astonishing sense of humor. 

studio shot, work-in-progress, 2015
CR: How has your involvement in your mother's care impacted your career choices and your relationship to the art community?

Judith: Although I don’t have children, I suspect that there are parallels in barriers encountered by parents in the arts and by those of us caring for adult family members.  A great deal of what has troubled me has been attitude. I have been taking care of my mother for close to 16 years, and the first thing I want to mention is that the art community is considerably kinder and gentler than it once was.  There was a time when I felt that any mention of my taking care of my mother was not welcome in the conversation.  It was very painful, but also made me quite angry that I was expected to compartmentalize this portion of my life and separate it out from the rest.  I felt things starting to shift, and for the better, about five years ago.  I applaud Cultural ReProducers for all their efforts to educate the art community.  I think it’s the same “education”:  recognizing that artists’ lives are complex.  Since we tend to ruminate on life’s toughest questions, it seems obvious that we would be living full, complex, and complicated lives. 

CR: What has your process been like in negotiating a balance between studio practice, day job, and caring for your mother? How has this system evolved as her/your situations have changed?

Judith: Illness and issues of aging do not necessarily progress in a straight line; actually the opposite is true.  There have been times when my mother’s care has occupied virtually all of my time and other times where it has been much more manageable.  It’s been an enormous challenge that has required continual recalibration.  I have told myself that I can juggle studio, teaching, and caregiving, and I have.   However, I know there’s statistical evidence that being a caregiver for someone who is ill has a 50% increased mortality rate regardless of age.  The stress component isn’t small.   I’ve never missed a class, postponed an exhibition, or neglected my mother’s healthcare, but I’ve sometimes felt overwhelmed from juggling so many eggs.

'Golems, Flying Machines, and Transformations' (detail),  2012
CR: How has this ongoing relationship with your mother and institutional care shaped your approach to your studio practice, or the work itself?


Judith:
My studio work has always been a reflection of my interest in relationships (typically complicated ones) and in how we come know another person.   This interest preceded being a caregiver for my mother.  My sculpture/installation work has never been a direct response to my time with her, but every once in a while I can sense the impact.  I had been a pre-med student before going to art school, and that interest (in things medical and in the body) had always been an influence.  I do believe that this fast forwarded since participating in my mother’s health care.  There were a couple of years during which I accompanied her to endless medical tests.  For a time, I looked more at medical imaging than at artwork.  I’ve been repeatedly awed by how fragile and resilient the human body, even an elderly one, can be; as a result, in the past decade my work seems to have grown increasingly more “fragile-but-still-standing.”   The use of stitching in my work, which has been present for many years, has taken on more and more of a surgical feel.  I doubt any of this is a coincidence although it was only in hindsight that I made these connections.
   
For the past two years, I’ve been taking pictures of my mother and me almost every time I visit.  Typically these are a reflection of us in her bureau mirror.  What started as a way to give us a shared activity has not only enriched our time together but has also turned into documentation of our relationship.  Claudine Isé and I are planning an exhibition around this work to be shown at Woman Made Gallery; this is predicated on funding to make it happen.   It has been a lovely discovery to realize that my studio interest in oddball love stories and moments of potential transformation are really at the heart of these images.

Untitled, (altered book page), 2014
CR: If you could imagine a fantasy scenario, what sorts of alternative structures might make that world more inclusive or supportive for artists who find themselves in a similar situation?

Judith:
I think the ideal scenario here might be even more complicated than for parents in the arts.   The medical emergencies and crises come randomly and at any time of the day or night.  Compassion from others helps a lot.  I can’t begin to say how much I appreciate it when people ask me directly about how I and/or my mom are doing.  This happens far more now than in years past. On the other hand, much of the advice/commentary I’ve received has been extremely unwelcome.  This isn’t an art community complaint, it’s global.  I remember someone recommending I let my mother die when she was still very much alive, and I’ve also received my share of New Age commentary indicating that what I’m experiencing is a result of unaddressed childhood issues.  I’m hard pressed to say how unhelpful these (and other) comments have been during the most difficult times.

My fantasy scenario involves how the elderly are treated.  From the time my mother began to lose her hearing, long before she had dementia, she was no longer taken seriously.  At this point, virtually every change in her is assumed to be her dementia progressing.  As a result, I often feel as if I need to watch her closely as medical issues are often missed and overlooked.   I have also caught (what feels like) 1,039,038 medical mistakes in the past fifteen years--everything from pharmacy to physician to hospital errors.   Many of them have been serious in nature. It is a fact of life that people need advocates when they are elderly and/or require a great deal of medical care.  In my fantasy world, I could blink (often) and it wouldn’t matter.  As it stands, I can’t ever fall asleep at the job.

Marcia and Judith Brotman, circa 1960
I want to end with something that will likely be unexpected even (especially?) to my closest
friends.  These years of caregiving, admittedly very tough, have also impacted me in ways I wouldn’t change.  I committed to something I truly wanted to do, and I think our commitments are always life affirming.   Given a re-do opportunity, I would likely do most of what I’ve done all over again---give or take a tweak here and there.  I’ve heard many parents talk about a shift in world-view once they’ve had their first child.  I suspect it is, in part, related to putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own. For me a greater sense of conviction, strength, and self-awareness have resulted.  I do not refer to self-sacrifice, but rather to a heartfelt commitment.  It certainly wasn’t why I’ve done this, but the internal changes have been a lovely (and unexpected) perk.  There have also been many astonishing conversations and shared experiences with my mother.  Admittedly some have been as tough as any I’ve ever encountered, but others have been filled with grace.  Even now, with my mother’s dementia fairly advanced, we share some incredibly intimate conversations.  At this point, we know each other so well that our conversations have the capacity to transcend all the perceived obstacles.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A little Mother's Day Mothernism, anyone?

Sure, mothers appreciate flowers and breakfast in bed, but do you know any who'd also love the chance to get together with other talented mamas for a free, all-ages multimedia Mothernism event?

This Mother's Day from 5-7pm, Chicago's feminist book club TRACERS teams up with the Nightingale Cinema for an evening of Mothernism: readings, screenings, and performances by Emily Lansana, Lise Haller Baggesen, Christa Donner, Lori M. Barett, Selina Trepp, and Rebirth Youth Poetry Ensemble, featuring Maya Dru and Simone Allen.

This event kicks off a monthly media series WHATHAVEYOUDONEFORMELATELY?, organized by TRACERS + the Nightingale and featuring readings, scholars, films, moving pictures, music, meditation, performance, and lively discussion around topics of contemporary feminism. You can find them there every 2nd Sunday of the month from 5-7PM. 

Unless otherwise noted, these events are family friendly and FREE. The Nightingale Cinema is located at 1084 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

How to Be an Artist and a Parent: Boston weighs in.

 

We love the new Boston, Massachusetts group How to be an Artist and a Parent, not least because of the the down-to-earth response you'll find on their website: "Who knows? Lets figure it out." The project is run by multimedia artists, writers and fathers Greg Cook and Tim Devin, who also run the online forum Boston-area Creative Parents. This month they're connecting the community with two free panel discussions exploring creative work-life balance, one in Malden and another in Somerville. Know any artists near Boston who are working it out as parents? Please pass along the news. Here's more information on this month's events:

How to Be an Artist and a Parent?
Being a parent is pretty challenging. And raising a kid while trying to be an artist/writer/you-name-it can feel pretty overwhelming– especially when you throw in Boston’s insanely high cost of living. But we’re creative people. Maybe if we get together and talk and listen, we can find ways to support each other.

Malden Edition: Tuesday, May 12th, from 7 to 8:00pm. Three creative parents (Paige Wallis, James Montford and Stacy Thomas-Vickory) will share how they balance their lives, and then we'll discuss it all as a group. And hopefully find some solutions.

Somerville Edition: Saturday, May 30th, from 2 to 4:00pm. Three creative parents (Jef Czekaj, Jennifer Johnson and Trudi Cohen) will share how they balance their lives, and then we'll discuss it all as a group. And hopefully find some solutions.

These events are free and open to the public.

Friday, April 17, 2015

CR Event Series Report: Making it What We Need

For the final installment in our Childcare-Supported Event Series, Cultural ReProducers teamed up with Glass Curtain Gallery to host Making it What We Need, a generative workshop that brought together a great mix of artists, art students, critics, and arts administrators from galleries, residencies, and museums across the city.

The event was presented in conjunction with the exhibition Division of Labor: Chicago Artist Parents, at Glass Curtain Gallery, exploring the intersections of contemporary art, career, and family life.  GC was wonderful to work with, and the exhibition offered a perfect context for brainstorming sustainable and supportive systems for cultural producers raising kids. Our childcare team transformed a nearby meeting room into a dynamic playspace with colorful tape shapes and a cozy reading corner stacked with quilts and books. We learned from past experience to
allow more time for sign-in and transition, and thanks to the gallery's flexible morning schedule we were able to start that process sooner. While the adults hatched plans outside, our kids worked with the fantastic Ash, Craig, Marieke and Andrew to construct their own visions for the future using colored sensory dough, rubber stamps, and poster-sized paper.

CR organizers Christa Donner and Selina Trepp started things off with a slideshow and discussion of the goals and Challenges of the Cultural ReProducers Event Series, from living-room meetups to childcare-supported museum events. Then the whole group got down to business. Participants were invited to fill out worksheets identifying our own needs in the art community as well as key barriers to achieving those goals. After taking some time to reflect on our own, we split into small groups to take on these challenges together. Since the groups were randomized many had the chance to work with cultural producers we'd never met before, making for new connections and great brainstorming.

Working around the time constraints of certain hungry, nap-ready kids in the next room, we wrapped up the whole event in a little under two hours. Sure, it was a bit quick to realize all our hopes and dreams … but as everyone packed up their things, we overheard several people exclaim “we could totally do this!” as they exchanged information to get in touch later. The ideas generated when we put our heads together were amazing, and it turns out, pretty possible with a little teamwork: studio co-ops with childcare, a CR certification program for institutions, reading groups, listservs, and a guerrilla campaign challenging assumptions and expectations about mamas in the arts. 

Want to get involved? We’re now in the process of connecting participants and other interested creative people through project-specific groups. Even if you couldn't make it to this event, feel free to download a copy of the MIWWN Event Report. Then take our quick  Survey to let us know which projects you're most interested in. You're welcome to join the conversation even if you live outside Chicago.

Our goal is twofold: to give parents and their kids the chance to participate as critical members of the arts community, and to inspire cultural institutions to better serve artists and audiences, providing positive models for future programming. The childcare-supported series may be over, but have no fear – there will be plenty more chances to connect, organized by amazing cultural (re)producers throughout the city. More information on our Artist-Run Events coming soon!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Artist-Run Events: Erin M. Chlaghmo + EPAC

Cultural ReProducers is working on a whole calendar of upcoming all-ages events organized by artists in conjunction with exhibitions, residencies, and other great projects throughout the city. We're calling it the Artist-Run Event Series, and you'll find a full list on our events page with more details coming soon.

The very first launches this weekend, organized by Erin M. Chlaghmo with the Ed Paschke Center Art Center:

All-Ages Studio Visit and Workshop with Erin M. Chlaghmo
Sunday, April 26th
 10am – 12pm

Ed Paschke Art Center
5415 W. Higgins Ave., Chicago, IL 60630

Join Ed Paschke Art Center (EPAC) Resident Artist Erin M. Chlaghmo as she remixes the construction of traditional Moroccan rag rug weaving on a giant frame loom. During her time in residence, Chlaghmo has focused on creating dialogues between herself and other women artists, linking global craft traditions to the challenges of making ends meet as an artist and member of society. Light refreshments will be served, and children will be invited to create miniature rugs to take home.

Parents, non-parents and children of all ages are welcome to this FREE event.

Presented in collaboration with the artist and Cultural ReProducers. Sponsored by the Ed Paschke Art Center.

Erin M. Chlaghmo is an artist who uses fabric and felt to construct tapestries and other patterned surfaces. Pattern has embedded cultural references which allow her to address ideas of belonging and identity construction. She worked with other emerging artists to construct a collaborative weaving as well as several wall hangings while in residence at EPAC.


Ed Paschke Art Center’s inaugural Artist Residency also features work by John Metido, an oil painter who gives the centuries old trompe l’oeil technique a contemporary twist by depicting pop subject matter. Their joint exhibition is presented in partnership with the Luminarts Cultural Foundation.