"The Mother Artist Project - A Collaboration", in Gallery No. 2

As you stroll through the galleries at the Harrison Center this Friday evening, on New Year's Day 2016, be sure to linger a while in Gallery No. 2 to view a very special installation of artwork done by mother artists and their children.

Erin Hüber is a Harrison Center artist and mother who founded the Mother Artist Project two years ago.  She saw a need for a better understanding and wider awareness of the issues mother artists face, and created a blog to document her interviews with mother artists from across the country and even worldwide.  The interviews explore the artists' personal experiences of art and motherhood as a balancing act.  Her project has since grown into a significant community of mother artists; the inaugural Mother Artist Market was held in May 2015 at HCA, which included art, pottery, jewelry, flowers and other handcrafted items, along with food and live music.  You can receive updates and news about the Mother Artist Project's upcoming events on the Facebook page.

This Friday, come and see "Mother Artist Project - A Collaboration" in Gallery No. 2.  This show will include the work of five mother artists and their thirteen children, ranging in age from 1 to 17.   Erin graciously supplied the following details about the upcoming show:

Untitled design (16)
Untitled design (16)

1.  How would you explain the concept of the Mother Artist Project?

The Mother Artist Project was created to shed light on the lives of mother artists behind the scenes as they balance a home life, work life, and their personal need to create works of art.  I felt at the time that I truly understood the need to make this private balancing act more of a public discussion ... and it was then that MAP was born.  After 16 years of mothering and being an artist myself, I understood the highs and lows of being what I consider a successful artist while trying to put food on the table for my family.  MAP has become a database of true stories of very hard-working, talented, successful women.  It is also a well of inspiration, which was my goal.  My very first interview was posted January 28th, 2014 with Megan Jefferson.  I just wanted to capture every single mother artist story on the planet - and I still do.

Untitled design (18)
Untitled design (18)

2.  How would you describe the theme of this installation?

This is the very first art-related Mother Artist Project show that I've had since the project launched in January 2014.  It only made sense that we would have a collaboration show with our children.  As mothers and artists we are all often making artwork in the middle of cooking dinner, texting our husbands while the children are at our feet or somewhere close by.  Sometimes the children want to make art for themselves, like mom... and often they are old enough to make their own work... and with that in mind, this show idea developed.

3.  What is your favorite medium to work in?

I am mainly a paper cutter; however, I have never limited myself to one medium.  I am also a painter, photographer and illustrator.  The other mother artists involved are photographers, mixed media artists, potters, and illustrators.

4.  Do you feel that work-life balance is different and/or challenging for mother artists?  How would you describe it? 

All the mother artists that I have interviewed for my project share one common thread -  they were artists before they became mothers.  Being an artist takes great focus and time just like any other profession.  Once a child is born the focus shifts away from art to caring for and tending to the life one has brought into the world.  The art making takes a back seat and often, so do the needs of the mother.  What people don't realize is that mothering is a tremendous sacrifice of self, and when a mother artist tries to reintroduce her art into her life, there is a great sense of guilt.  There is never enough time in the studio, because our main focus remains on the family.  The mother-artist balance is quite tricky, and often the artist sets her work aside and depression kicks in.  Unfortunately, this is a topic that isn't discussed enough.  How do we balance it all?  How do we tend to ourselves and create much needed work that feeds our spirit while pouring out all our love to our family?  MAP sheds light on this topic and shows other mothers that they are not alone.  I believe balance is possible, and striving for this balance is necessary to create harmony in the home.

I have discovered that all mother artists need two things -  time and childcare, in order to be productive and successful.

One thing that attracted me to the Harrison Center for the Arts is that there was a small nanny service upstairs from my studio.  It took one common-sense, brilliant idea from one mother artist who saw a need for herself and came up with a solution.  The problem:  she needed childcare while she worked in the studio.  The solution:  she hired a nanny.  Since then, the nanny has a consistent following of mother artists who need her and pay her for her time and service.  I too work there once a week and feel that it's a great way to bond with the children and mothers involved in the arts at HCA.

Quality care-giving is a true need among many mother artists worldwide.  Should MAP continue to flourish, my goal would be to open a place where women can have their studios, childcare and a gallery geared towards women in the arts - a MAP headquarters.  I believe this is possible and is needed within the community.  Until then, I am thankful for what we have at the Harrison Center for the Arts.