Monday, December 22, 2014

CR Event Report: Division of Labor Opening & Co-Occupations Zine Release

This has been a busy season for Cultural ReProducers in Chicago - In November we came out en masse to celebrate the opening of the exhibition Division of Labor: Chicago Artist Parents at Glass Curtain Gallery, curated by and including a whole lot of remarkable Cultural ReProducers alumni (for the full list and curatorial essay, you can download the exhibition catalogue). The show had not one but two openings: an evening reception on November 19th, and an experimental family-friendly Saturday-morning party on the 22nd, which drew an
all-ages dance party with Tiny Cover Band
incredible crowd of artists and their families. While adults mingled over the snack table, Columbia College's Art Education Department kept the kids busy with a collage project based on included artist Anne Toebbe's layered domestic collage-paintings. Tiny Cover Band played an energetic set of tweaked indie classics on child-sized instruments, and at one point handed out small percussion instruments (maracas, bells and clappers) so everyone could join in. The result was a transformative all-ages dance party that brought everybody together on the dance floor.

One of a handful of recent exhibitions in which parenthood is a point of discussion, Division of Labor has already drawn some positive attention, including a Critic's Pick on and and a notable mention in the Chicago Tribune's Best Visual Art of the Year. Cultural ReProducers is excited to present the final installment of our childcare-supported event series there on January 31st. More on all that very soon.

Candida Alvarez on the relationship between family & abstraction
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On Wednesday, December 10th Cultural ReProducers launched its new zine, Propositions, Manifestos & Experiments, at Sector 2337 with the event Co-Occupations, a multimedia extravaganza organized with Caroline Picard that featured presentations by artists connected with both the zine and the Division of Labor show.

After introductions, Christa Donner kicked things off with the Cultural ReProducers

Manifesto and later shared an excerpt from Palle Nielsen's "Model for a Qualitative Society." Thea Liberty Nichols read from Ellen Lanyard's short essay in the influential M/E/A/N/I/N/G #12, Lise Haller Baggesen performed her new "Yo Mama" essay, Candida Alvarez shared a slideshow considering the influence of both motherhood and daughterhood in her work, Fred Sasaki's how-to videos created with his father and young son were screened, Claire Ashley delivered her own manifesto alongside images of relevant work, and Keiler Roberts brought her deadpan humor to the floor with a live comics reading. Husband-and-wife duo The Speers rounded out the evening with a thrumming electronic sound performance while their two-month-old baby dozed in the back room. All in all, it was a lively, jam-packed evening.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lost in Living: Review and Online Streaming

We're pleased to present part one of a two-part series featuring filmmaker Mary Trunk's documentary “Lost in Living,” which can be streamed online free of charge through December 25th, 2014 at Trunk does a remarkable job capturing the joy, exhaustion, and the many conflicts that arise as a result of being both mother and artist.  Don’t miss this opportunity to view an important film that accurately portrays many of the issues mother/artists deal with on a daily basis.

 by Christina LaMaster

Mary Trunk’s feature length documentary, Lost in Living, deals with the emotional and practical tensions which arise when artists become mothers. Trunk films and interviews four artists over the course of seven years. Two of them are young artists: Caren McCaleb, a painter and video editor, and Kristina Robbins, a filmmaker. These two women are close friends and experience pregnancy and the birth of their first children at about the same time. We are allowed to see first hand the impact rearing babies and toddlers has on their lives as mother/artists. The other two women featured are writer Merrill Joan Gerber and visual artist Marjorie Schlossman, both of whom have adult children and who reflect upon the impact of their young and growing families on their careers as artists. These reflections are more dramatic when some of their grown children speak of their childhoods, and recall some of the difficulties of being the child of a mother/artist.

What is so impactful in this film are the ambiguities expressed by these mother/artists—the need to be creative contrasted with the often mundane activities of child-rearing and house work; the feelings sometimes amounting to desperation when they speak about the interruption of their artistic careers and the difficulty of getting back on track; the cavalier dismissal by many in the art world of the value of motherhood; and the regret expressed especially by the older artists at the feeling that they neglected their children for the sake of their art.

Trunk’s own struggle with both motherhood and filmmaking inspired her to make the film, and her objective/observational role as a documentarian allows each woman’s journey to be understood. Lost in Living, does not make a case for choosing between motherhood and art.  Trunk does, however, with both hard-eyed realism and immense sympathy, show us how difficult it is to manage both. In this film mother/artists will see themselves and their struggles laid out before them and perhaps feel a little less alone, a little more recognized for their efforts. This documentary is a must-see for all artists, women, and mothers who may consider themselves “lost” in living.

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Christina LaMaster is a photographer, installation and video artist.  A fifth-generation Nebraskan, she has spent most of her life in the Midwest, teaching and holding various program and administrative positions at museums and community arts centers.  She now calls Central Illinois home, and recently earned her MA in Studio Art from Bradley University.  She is particularly interested in women’s issues, motherhood and the idea of the “maternal gaze.”  Chrissy is the mother of two college-aged children, and has spent the last 20 years attempting to find a balance between motherhood and art.