Anthropology of Motherhood is celebrating its eighth year as part of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Festival. AoM is an exhibition featuring works of art that engage in the complex visual, material, emotional, corporeal, and lived experiences of motherhood, caregiving, parenting, nurturing, and maternal labor. This unique hybrid exhibition is innovatively designed as both an art space, an interactive amenity, and a place of respite for families with young children.
Participating Artists: Sean Alistair, Jenny Joanna Bartholemew, Anna Brody, Frances Bukovsky, Aimee Bungard, Annie Campbell, Patti Durr, Matthew Forrest, Laural Hartman, Jamie Walters Kessler, Kigali Deaf Art Gallery, Ellen Mansfield, Nadia Naomi Mbonde, Alysa Miller, Avianna Miller, iele paloumpis, Laurie Shapiro, Sarah Shotts, Melissa Skyer, Angela Starosta
2023 Anthropology of Motherhood Exhibition Statement
By Amy Bowman-McElhone PhD
The intersections of motherhood and disability are complex and multifaceted, encompassing a wide range of experiences and perspectives. According to disabilities studies scholar Kristen Lindgren, pregnancy, motherhood, and disability are connected in that they “involve the redrawing of bodily boundaries and incorporation of an other into the self. Both motherhood and [disability] require learning new ways to use my body and to interpret bodily signals.”
Mothers/parents who identify as disabled, and caregivers of disabled kin face unique challenges that are often overlooked or misunderstood by dominant culture, including barriers to healthcare, social isolation, and systemic discrimination. Despite these obstacles, mothers/parents who identify as disabled have also forged powerful communities of support and resistance, challenging dominant narratives about motherhood and disability and pushing for greater inclusivity and equity.
This year, Anthropology of Motherhood’s exhibition explores these intersections through a selection of artworks that offer diverse perspectives on the experiences of disabled artist/mothers and disabled artist/caregivers. These artworks highlight the ways in which disability shapes the experience of caregiving, parenting, and motherhood, while also challenging ableist assumptions and stereotypes. They draw attention to the complex realities of parenting with a disability, including joy, creativity, agency, and navigating systemic barriers.
Through a variety of media including photography, sculpture, performance, painting, and multimedia installations, these artworks explore themes such as the challenges of navigating healthcare systems, the intersections of disability and reproductive rights, and the emotional labor of mothering/parenting with a disability. They also offer insights into the rich networks of support and community that, in their solidarity, intervene in dominant narratives about motherhood and disability.
Together, these artworks provide a powerful testament to the creativity, labor, and profound relationships of reciprocal care engaged in by artists who identify as disabled mother/caregivers/parents, highlighting the importance of centering the intersectional experiences of motherhood and disability. The exhibition seeks to amplify the voices of these artists as a means to challenge ableist assumptions and design an equitable world for all mothers/caregivers/parents.
Anthropology of Motherhood Partners
Anthropology of Motherhood would also like to thank: