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.