PLYMOUTH — Four artist-mothers, Marcia Santore and Annette Mitchell of Plymouth, Laura Morrison of Concord and Patricia Schappler of Bedford will reveal their insights into the concepts of mother and motherhood in a new exhibition, MOMMA, opening at the Silver Center for the Arts at Plymouth State University March 3. A public reception will be held from 4–6 p.m. Tuesday, March 4 at Silver. The show runs through April 11.
Motherhood is a profoundly feminist subject for Santore, who curated MOMMA, choosing the artists and art works for the exhibition. MOMMA explores themes of motherhood from the visceral, to the emotional, to the intellectual—responding to a society that sentimentalizes mothers but does not always respect them, according to the curator. Santore says the exhibition is about showing something important about artist-mothers, "how being mothers affects the work we do as artists—we are who we are and where we are in large part because of our roles as mothers. How we see the world, what we notice, what we make art about is strongly affected by our roles as mothers." But she adds emphatically that MOMMA is not a polemical motherhood manifesto. "It is not about mothers being better or worse than other women, or advocating any particular way of being a mother, nor is it about defining women as mothers first and anything else second."
Each artist was chosen because she addresses aspects of motherhood in her work, but each from a different perspective. Laura Morrison's sculptural yarn work addresses the generative properties of nature, while her delicate assemblages are ruminations about family and connections between people. Morrison learned how to sew from her mother, playing with the materials in the sewing room. The memories generated by their working together represent a large part of Morrison's childhood.
Patti Schappler's drawings and paintings create life-size and more-than-life-size, closely observed portraits of her children over time, individually and as a family. She says that since her teenage years she has used drawing as a way of quickly looking at and talking about the relationships she observes in the world. Annette Mitchell is bringing her perspective as a mother, a grandmother and a daughter to the show. Her paintings, prints and quilts reflect the fact that life with children can be both humorous and exhausting. The first of her own paintings Santore selected for the show is "Lupa," a painting of the wolf who raised Romulus and Remus. In further exploring the topic, however, Santore ended up creating an entire new series of works, the "Minivan Series," which is based on things seen and imagined from different perspectives inside a vehicle associated with motherhood.
Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions Director Cynthia Robinson says the artwork will be "fabulous, a visual feast that will lure us in and invite us to reflect on our own experience in today's culture." How working female artists who are also mothers in rural areas like New Hampshire are undervalued in the art world, is an underlying concept in MOMMA.
The exhibitions program, in collaboration with the PSU Women's Studies Council and Lamson Library, will present the film "Who Does She Think She Is?" at 7 p.m. Monday, March 10 in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center. This documentary by Academy Award-winning producer Pamela Tanner Boll features five bold women who navigate some of the most problematic intersections of our time: parenting and creativity, partnering and independence, economics and art. Through their lives Tanner Boll explores what it means to nurture children and family, and keep the creative fire burning within. The 82-minute film will be followed by a brief discussion. There is no charge for admission.