Friday, November 12, 2010

Going to Washington!

I have been invited to display the MAMA Project at Fort Worden State Park (Port Townsend) over the coming Mothers Day weekend, 2011. They have a busy Mothers Day picnic, there, so it's bound to be a lovely event. Very pleased.

A couple of thoughtful and generous Port Townsend citizens saw the show in Victoria, last year, and spoke to me about bringing it across the border to their hometown. They came through on their aspiration, arranged an invitation from Fort Worden, and have even offered accommodation in their home, and help setting up. Now I just have to find some funding/sponsorships to help get me and the show down there. I do love it when things work out as hoped for!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Today I spoke to the incredibly friendly and thoughtful Almas Jiwani (President of the UN Development Fund for Women in Canada (UNIFEM)) about the potential for the MAMA Project to make a difference in the world. Ms. Jiwani said she feels passionate about the importance of mothers in the world, specifically the power that we yield as nurturers of each new generation, and she has given many speeches to that effect. She told me she is proud of me for the work I am doing, and frankly I was overjoyed to receive such validation from somebody I look up to. Indeed, as conscious mothers we can create any change in the world, and it is also so important that we support each other in our endeavours.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

flickr group

In my opinion, the ultimate experience of art is that of the viewers, so it follows that the ultimate photos are those taken by the public, as opposed to people really involved with the work. This is the unfiltered public view of the work. Especially with a moving, interactive project like this one, where the public is a vital part of the installation, each participant will see and record it in a different way. I rejoice in witnessing the many ways people have joined and experienced the installation.

A few people who saw the Victoria and Colwood installations have sent me photos, and some others promised on the day of to send me their flickr pages. So I have created a flickr group specifically for photos of the MAMA project, taken by the public.

Here it is:

If you have photos you'd like to include, please either email them to me, or put them up on flickr and ask me for an invitation to the group.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Victoria Photos

MAMA in Bastion Square Public Market -- click to see full-size

beautiful backlighting, courtesy of the sun

SuperMAMA performance in Bastion Square -- photo by Markus Roemer

MAMA at the Coast Collective Gallery -- click to see full-size

that is indeed a very large tortoise you see, between the sheets...

I did a few pieces from the SuperMAMA performance (solo) in the space created by the sheets at both Bastion Square and the Coast Collective. This is "SAHM: Stay At Home Mom", one of the pieces I did at the Coast Collective, and was filmed by Markus.

This is Markus -- my husband, and, of course, the reason this project is possible.Yes, he actually took vacation days to come help me set up the installation. Thanks are not enough for the gift he gives to me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

...back from Victoria!

Markus and I spent 4 days hefting boxes of lines, sheets, and tools around Victoria, (and running the show, of course), while my parents looked after the children, the house, and the dog. Now we're tired!! Each installation event was unique, and both were wonderful experiences for me, both artistically and as a mother and human. Though I did miss my children rather a lot...

Within the next couple of days, I'll get some photos up here from the installations.

Small bit of news: I have decided that I'm willing to sell the sheets. Each sheet will be priced at $2800.00, and will come with a painted quote from the interviews. This money will enable me to continue touring the installation. It always seems to have such a deep impact on the people who see it, that I feel it's very important to keep it going.

And this winter I will begin interviewing again, for more portraits/recordings.

Monday, August 9, 2010

MAMA in Victoria and Colwood

Getting ready for Victoria...

The installations in Victoria and Colwood are both outside; one in a public market and one at an arts festival. Both will have music happening, as well, not to mention a busy lot of people, so the broadcasting of the mothers' comments will not be practical. Instead I've decided to transcribe a few of the many recorded snippets onto (guess what!) used bed sheets!! The hard part was choosing only twenty-something comments from the hundreds I play during the indoor installations. After that there was just a lot of painting. It was very meditative; a bit like calligraphy, since each letter was brushed on, and then the brush dipped again in the paint. The experience enhanced for me the significance of the words. Some photos:

Monday, July 26, 2010

MAMA is Now Sponsored by the Victoria Regent Hotel

I'm happy to announce that the Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel and Suites will be the main sponsor for the Victoria tour of the MAMA Project. It is sponsorships like this that allow me to bring this project on tour, and that allow the conversation it facilitates to continue. I am very grateful for the opportunity to do this important work. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What it's all about.

I interviewed 20 mothers of various descriptions, gathered their words and expressions, and put them together to form an installation of mothers' experience in sound and portraiture. Portraiture sounds so staid. They're not. They're moving emotional experiences on stained bedsheets. With the faces and gestures of real mothers.

When I began this project, over a year ago, it was about gathering the diverse experiences of motherhood for an open and honest exploration. I knew then that "the point" would change as the project grew, and it has.

By the time I had done a few interviews, I knew that the show was not about just being, but about growing. Every single interview was (for me) about exploring the journey between our pasts and our futures, and the reasons we choose the paths we follow. The history that makes us who we are, and how we come to value ourselves in the world we create.

Now that I've watched people's reactions to the installation, my experience of it has grown, again. I see people come in and take in each mother slowly, then stand gazing into the white spaces as the recorded voices speak. Some people spend 5 minutes in the gallery, most about 20 minutes to 1/2 an hour, and some spend more than an hour. Many also return, having thought about what they've seen, to sit quietly and process again. It's an individual journey, and most return alone. Of course I don't know what they're all thinking about, but a few have told me that they're getting to know their own mothers. These have mostly been young women without children, and older men. The ability to look into the experience of mothers in general connects us with our own mothers, of course, and I think that is a connection many of us are searching for. Some have been looking because their mothers are gone, and some are looking to deepen their understanding of women they still have in their lives. Some have shared deep, buried feelings with me, and shed tears they said had been hiding for many years.

I don't know how the project will grow and change over the years, of course, but the journey so far is amazing for me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Standing Women and MAMA Conversation

This Mothers' Day will be busy! Please join us in spirit or in person for these evnts:

Standing Women: I am organizing a STANDING WOMEN event, as there's been one (or more) on Bowen annually for the past few years. We will be standing for a better world on Mother's Day, May 9, at 1 pm local time, on the grass in Artisan Square. For more information, see
In 2007, Standing Women organized almost 4,000 events around the world, and brought together many thousands of people.

We'd love to have you participate.  Take a look at the web site, and if you have the opportunity, please join us. If you like, you can register your participation here:
...or you can just show up!

We will stand on the grass in the middle of Artisan Square, on Bowen Island. Afterward we will head over to the MAMA exhibition at the gallery for...

MAMA Conversation: a group story and poetry gathering for anybody who has ever had a mother. We'll introduce ourselves, drink tea, talk about our own mothers and our mothering thoughts and experiences, and we'll do a couple of group exercises around mothering story and poetry. We'll end with an easy spiral dance.

Both are Standing Women and MAMA Conversation are free and open to the whole community.

Please join us if you can, or stand with us in another location, wherever you are.

Monday, May 3, 2010

SuperMAMA Encore!

The first performance of SuperMAMA went wonderfully!

It was sold out (more than 100 people), people were standing all over the place, and we've had nothing but wonderful feedback. People keep telling me they wish they'd been able to go, so... we're doing it again!!

SuperMAMA Encore:
Saturday May 15th, at the Gallery in Artisan Square.
Doors at 7PM. Performance starts on time at 7:30.
Tickets will be available tomorrow at Cates Pharmacy, Phoenix, the Gallery, and as of Thursday at BC Playthings in North Van.

Coming from the mainland?
Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen:
--Arrive in Horseshoe Bay at 6PM latest for the 6:30PM ferry.
--The show finishes at approximately 8:30PM - just in time to catch the 9PM ferry home, or stay a while and catch the last ferry home at 10PM.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ready to go!

The installation is up, newspaper article published, the shirts, books, and tickets are on sale, and we've done our last rehearsal before the filming and public performance. So... here we go!!

Shirts are available to buy at BC Playthings in North Vancouver, Phoenix on Bowen, and at the Gallery in Artisan Square. The book is available to buy online, and on the MAMA project website, in the "media" section.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Two weeks to Go!

Only two weeks until the superMAMA performance, and I just feel totally energized, and thrilled to be working with this group of passionate and gifted women. Not only are they extremely talented, but they are all endlessly compassionate, patient with me and my many foibles, and committing an extraordinary amount of time and energy to this project, for which none of us are receiving a penny. It never was about money, though, of course -- just the fun of it, and I must say it IS fun! For some of the pieces it is going to be extremely difficult to continue singing while certain bizarre and hilarious activities are going on in shadow, behind me. Well we have a few rehearsals, before the show, so hopefully we can get our sillies out a bit, by then. :--))

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

...still painting...

99% of my time is now filled with the management of this show; the t-shirt printing, promo materials, proposals, etc. And phoning. SO much phoning! No wonder people have managers!! But last night I did paint another sheet; here's the main detail:

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Website!

The MAMA Project website is now live. It will grow as the project does. First changes to expect: press page (links to articles/etc.), more tour dates as the venues & dates are confirmed, and more photos/videos as I get them together. So here's the site! Do tell your friends about it!

MAMA Project

Friday, March 26, 2010

To Free or not to Free?

Originally my plan was to make all parts of the show (performance, installation, and conversation) free for everyone, as a means of enabling everyone to attend, regardless of his/her financial situation. However, over the past couple of months, enough people have advised me to at least charge a bit for the performance, that I am beginning to reconsider.
For the performance, only.

The reasons people advise this are mostly either as a means of recouping some money or as a means of predicting/gaging/distributing the audience. We're also considering doing a second Bowen-performance, now. Basically, if people have paid, there is a greater chance that they actually will come, when they planned to, and also that we can predict numbers, and gage whether a second show is a good idea.

So right now I'm thinking 5$/ticket. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

13-way sound projection

One of my goals for this project is to 13-direction sound going in the installation-venue. Then the voices of the mothers will come from more than 2 points, and the random thoughts will come from random parts of the space. If you have suggestions on how to make this work, I'd be happy to hear them. All the schemes I've thought of so far have been pretty complicated!

Why 13? Because it's a prime number, which would throw any perceived balance (predictability) off, fill the room with sound-points, and accentuate the feeling of randomness, and therefore the "everywoman" idea. Also, there are usually 13 moons in a calendar year, 13 menstrual cycles, and therefore 13 cycles of a woman's potential to become a mother.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Working with these women.

While filming and interviewing the daughters, mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who participated in my project, I was struck every time by the amazing compassion and grace we all have, inherently, and how much self-discovery comes out of just openly talking about our experiences of being a daughter and mother.

Now, as I edit the voices of the mothers, clipping out interesting bits of ideas to broadcast into the room with the portraits, I am amazed, again. We are so wise!! Every single person - even the one whose son was so busy and intent on distracting her that I got only 2 audible phrases out of the interview - had something of deep wisdom to say. The importance of this project has always been to give voice to mothers, and hence support, as we find our community in a sharing space: the embrace of other mothers. But increasingly I see its broader cultural importance as a means to become a more free-thinking, conscious society. And by "us" I don't mean Canadians or even North Americans. I mean people everywhere. When we open our hearts to the joy of our own significance in the world, we open the vast realm of possibility for what we will acheive in our lives. We stop criticizing ourselves, and hoping desperately that no harm comes to our children, and instead we live in the courageous knowledge that our children carry on our own joy and inspiration to create for themselves the beautiful world we are leaving them.

"I'm who I am, and it took me a long time, but I like me." -- one of the hundreds of voice-clips from the installation.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hazel & Co.

I just picked up our beautiful, soft, cozy leggings, which were donated by Susan Heyes of Hazel & Co., in Vancouver. I and the rest of the performers will be wearing them onstage for the performance. Definitely check out Susan's stores, Hazel & Co. (4280 Main St.) and Jools (4255 Dunbar) Thank you THANK YOU to our first official sponsor!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dates for the Bowen Island events:

MAMA Installation: April 29th - May 16th, 2010
Come listen to the sounds and expressions of mothers' experience. Take time to sit and think. Write about your own mothering experiences in the journal.

SuperMAMA performance & opening reception: May 1, 7pm.
A free performance, open to everyone. Come enjoy yourself!

MAMA conversation: May 9th (Mother's Day), 2-4 pm
This will be a free-form conversation and poetry workshop, open (and free) for mothers of all ages and experiences.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Background: Why am I doing this?

Why on earth am I doing this: spending heaps of money I don't have,  making a project about mothers? People keep giving me money-making ideas... like making heaps of intaglio prints to sell and opening a print-shop, publishing greeting cards of my work, or selling my landscape paintings, doing more graphic design work, teaching (and I love teaching!). But no... this is much more important to me, and - I believe - for the world. Here's why:

The first few years of a child's life determine much about the child's future, and frequently those first few years were spent primarily with one person: Mama.

What that implies for our children's future is huge. It means that every action, every word, every intention, success and failure of our own has become the foundation for a new human being. Each of our children will go on to build a world of her own invention, and perhaps become a parent, too. When we raise a child our impact upon the future of humanity grows exponentially.

Could it be that motherhood is the most powerful job on earth?
Most mothers have neither the means nor the support to raise our children as well as we hope to. We feed, clothe, nurture and protect our children according to all the advice we can gather, and then send them off to the best schools we can afford or find, according to our children's individual needs and the beliefs of our individual families.

So how do we learn to be "good mothers"? Well, we can't learn it in school, we may try very hard to glean what information we can from other mothers, doctors, studies and other publications, but probably the most significant contributor to our mothering abilities is our experience of being mothered, ourselves. That's right: those first few years of our lives. Somewhere deep inside our most long-forgotten memories are the touches of our mothers' hands, the feeling of our mothers' hair on our cheeks, the smell of our mothers' breath and skin, and the sound of our mothers scolding, laughing, singing, and reassuring. For some of us these places are empty memories. We stand shocked in front of our children after shouting some antique threat or criticism, completely forgotten until the moment it left our tongues. We look into our children's eyes and think "did my mother really love me this much?" We falter along, part of an endless chain of mothers, all doing the best we possibly can, and not often proud enough of the responsibility and honour we've been given: We are billions of mothers, working with tears, laughter, passion and compassion, all day and all of every night, and in this blessed occupation we are shaping the next generation of life on earth.

I consciously chose this occupation, worked for it, even, while, desperately hoping and wishing for a child. And some of us came here by accident, and some of us are still trying, even some in vain, wanting desperately to share in this most treasured role, but shut out by our own bewildering fates. But all of us are building the world we live in, one face-wipe; one tirade; one cuddle at a time.

Nursing Songs:

I came to this project naturally, as I became a mother myself. So often we are trapped as lonely caregivers, unable to find community, and when we finally do find it, it is with other mothers, and often through our children. We are neck-deep in a desperately emotional period of our lives, and needing to share.

In 2004, with a toddler at home and pregnant with my second child, I stopped painting and teaching. There was no place safe to paint with my son around, and obviously no time, anyway. I abandoned my career and passion for a new passion: motherhood.

Of course, creativity doesn't just end. While nursing, I began writing poems about my son, and later my infant daughter. I wrote songs for them, about the joys and the unexpected trials of motherhood, and I began performing these songs around the island where I live. It seemed many people were interested; not because I was a great singer, but because I sang about our shared experiences. Motherhood is perhaps the most common profession on earth, and certainly one of the least formally acknowledged. I sat having tea with other mothers, nearly every day. We shared stories of loss and reward, of satisfaction and frustration. I discovered that, among the many vastly different women I knew, our shared experiences were our strongest support line.

During this time, I founded and ran a program called Mothers Place, which welcomed mothers of young children to learn (every week we had a 'baby circle' followed by a local speaker) and above all to share their experiences and thoughts in a supportive environment. This work, as well as my own mothering journey, inspired me endlessly to create art that would connect and support mothers.

Though rewarding, motherhood can feel like a prison, too. I often felt lost in the infinite tasks of laundry, cooking and cleaning that my new life involved, and I began to feel I might never paint, again. I began taking photos of my children, and then of my own mothering experiences -- a project I called "mother's-eye-view". I continued writing poems and songs, and, although I had a few published, and did present and perform a small amount in Victoria, Vancouver and on Bowen Island, I was growing increasingly restless, and unfulfilled, as an artist. In an attempt to regain the sanity of the woman he had married, my husband began building me a studio, and it was then that I began to feel my value as an artist, returning.

In 2009, as my studio neared completion, I began to document the emotional experiences of other mothers. This, my current work and passion, is called MAMA. I am hoping to tour my work, documenting mothers in various countries and languages as I go, so that the project becomes truly international. Details of the MAMA installation and other parts of the project follow in this book.

Art for a World Community:

I have always felt that my art, rather than being decoration, is a conversation with the viewers. It's a way of opening viewers' emotional doors, inviting them to participate, and being as much about their own input as it is about mine. By extension, if I can use art to bring people together in community, either empathically or physically, then I feel truly fulfilled.

Motherhood is one of the most life-altering journeys most women embark upon, and one of the most demanding, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This project is an exploration of the vast spectrum of experience that is mothering. It brings together women in all stages of motherhood and from all walks of life to share, inspire, and create the show. Through the sharing of experience and the empowerment of our voices, we bring healing to one another, and bring our mothering into the community sphere, thereby strengthening the roots of the next generation.

Compassion comes through empathy. I feel art is successful when it has brought people together, and so with this project I aim to bring a worldwide community of mothers together, and to further open the doors of communication for everyone.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Progress Report!!

The paintings are coming along faster than I expected; I'll have them finished by the end of March. Currently my studio is wearing a bunch of the completed portraits on the walls, and it's great to see how it will all come together (thankfully, as planned!).

Performance rehearsals: We did a bone-dry run with all the sheets a while back and took some videos of the very rough idea-slinging, half-attendance experiments!! (Posted, below...)

T-Shirts! The t-shirt design is pretty much done. I've done two designs that I think could work, but this (wings, to the right)  is the one favoured by 100% of the 50 or so people I've asked:

PR: I'm looking into getting sponsorship for the clothing we'll wear, and bringing the show to galleries in Vancouver, Victoria, and possibly the Netherlands. I'll be able to bring the performance to Vancouver, and possibly in a slightly different form to Victoria, but I'm also going to film the show, so that it can be shown in combination with the exhibition, when it goes abroad. If you have any suggestions for venues, do email me at moontree (at) telus (dot) net.

*UPDATE: With encouragement from some artist-friends in various countries, I'm now also looking into France, Switzerland, Germany and Los Angeles.

This is about inspiring and connecting mothers, and mothers live everywhere. So I'd like to get the show out there.

Here are some more details of the sheet-paintings:

Early Rehearsals...

These videos are some of the rehearsal footage from last month.
Without most of the participants (dancer, musicians, singers, etc.) we played and experimented with the shadows and accompaniment. Fun!

I think these are fun, as experiments, but the show will be significantly different by the time of the premiere in May. Envision lighting, 2 or 3 musicians accompanying on many songs/poems, and singers, too... at least one shadow-dancer, more puppetry, miming, colour, contrast, etc. Just generally way more going on, on and around the sheets. :--)

**NOTE: Yes there WILL be front-lighting! This is just experimentation!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The show is fast approaching -- suddenly the calendar says 2010 and it means I need to get myself moving! I've only completed four of the portraits, but the plans and performance are shaping up all around.

I've invited a bunch of wonderful mothers and artists to perform with me at the show, and the meetings we've been having are totally inspirational. We sit in my living room, making shadow plays, figuring out harmonies, dance, paint techniques and lighting, talking about what to wear, and just generally letting our creative selves loose. We range in age from 34 to 60, and the energy is rich and diverse. It's beautiful!

I'm looking for sponsors, right now, and, as always, am still looking for used (soiled is great too) white bed linens.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Linen Press

 Linen Press was exhibited at the 2007 Pacific Festival of the Book in Victoria, BC. It is an accordion-fold book made of used children's bed linens, wrapped in a cloth diaper. On its pages are poems and other random mothering thoughts, as well as photos from a "mother's eye view". The book in its entirety is my own work.