October 13, 2012

The Double Life of the Artist Mother

Dear Readers,
Please join us for a lively (and I hope brutally honest) conversation this Tuesday at the School of Visual Arts Theater.

Taking Custody: The Double Life of the Artist Mother
A Panel Discussion moderated by Sharon Butler of Two Coats of Paint
Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 7pm
SVA Theater

UPDATE: Video of the event is posted here.

Press release:
The Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents Taking Custody: The Double Life of the Artist Mother, a panel discussion among visual artists who are also mothers. Artist, educator and blogger Sharon L. Butler  will moderate a conversation with alumni Suzanne McClelland (MFA 1989 Fine Arts), Katherine Bernhardt, (MFA 2000 Fine Arts), Rachel Papo (MFA 2005 Photography, Video and Related Media) Amy Stein (MFA 2006 Photography, Video and Related Media), and Renée Cox (MFA 1992 Photography), and faculty member Danica Phelps. The artists will discuss their experiences negotiating the demands of the commercial art world with those of motherhood. The event will take place on Tuesday, October 16, 7pm at the SVA Theatre (333 West 23 Street). Admission is free and open to the public.

Three decades after women’s liberation, journalists like Ann-Marie Slaughter continue to explore “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (The Atlantic July/August 2012), driving home the difficulties of balancing motherhood with a highly-demanding career. But we have yet to hear from the creative community about the unique challenges working mothers face. How do women artists answer their creative calling—often without a steady income—while satisfying the daily demands of raising children?

Although many women artists may feel the need to choose between pursuing their passion and having a family, the panelists will discuss their experience doing both, from what they sacrifice and struggle with day-to-day to how they find time to go to the studio, arranging childcare and cultivating relationships with their children while remaining committed to their artistic practice.

Mary Cassatt, Tea, 1880, oil on canvas, 25½ × 36¼ inches. Mary Cassatt, although famous for her depictions of mothers with their children, never married or had kids of her own. 
Image courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Katherine Bernhardt is a painter represented by CANADA gallery. She earned her MFA in Fine Arts from SVA in 2000. She has a 17-month-old son and practices attachment parenting.

Sharon L. Butler maintains the award-winning art blog Two Coats of Paint and is represented by Pocket Utopia. Based in New York City, she spends weekdays with her 13-year-old daughter in Connecticut, where she currently has an exhibition at Real Art Ways and is teaching an MFA seminar at the University of Connecticut.

Renée Cox (MFA 1992 Photography) is a controversial Jamaican-born photographer who uses her body to push the boundaries of racism, sexism, religious and social issues. In Yo Mama's Last Supper, Cox recreates Da Vinci's The Last Supper, casting herself as Christ. This piece was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 2001 and drew the ire of former Mayor Giuliani when he called for the establishment of "decency standards" for any art exhibited in a museum receiving public funds. Renee has two sons, aged 23 and 19.

Suzanne McClelland is a widely-exhibited painter who received her MFA in Fine Arts from SVA in 1989 and is now represented by Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago and Galerie Andres Thalmann in Zurich. She has two children, a 27-year-old daughter, who was a toddler while she was in graduate school, and an 11-year-old son.

Rachel Papo is a freelance photographer whose work has been published in the The New York Times, New York magazine, Dance Magazine and Real Simple. After her daughter Zohar was born in 2010, she left Brooklyn and moved upstate to Woodstock, where she now lives with her husband Micah and daughter, commuting to Manhattan for occasional assignments.

Danica Phelps is a conceptual artist represented by Brennan & Griffin who has made her work about her everyday life since 1995. Most recently, the subject of these works on paper has been her son, now three years old, who accompanies her during the installation of all of her exhibitions, both at home and abroad.

Amy Stein is an artist and educator based in New York City. Her work deals with humankind's increasing isolation from nature, culture and oneself. She teaches at Parsons The New School, SVA and the International Center for Photography. She lives in Queens with her husband and one year old son.

For further information, please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at alumni@sva.edu. Follow the conversation on Twitter #SVATakingCustody

Related posts:
Neo-Maternalism: Contemporary artists' approach to motherhood


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Will this be recorded or taped in any way, shape, or form? I would LOVE to hear this conversation, but am not in NYC...

Yes. An edited video of the discussion will be available on the SVA website.

I've just searched the SVA website and can't find the video. Can anyone help? Thanks!

I've just searched the SVA website and I can't find the video. Can anyone help? Thanks!

Hi Zoe,

Thanks for reminding me to add a link. The video is posted here: