Mother’s Day’s around the corner and I’m reminded of an issue I’d heard about a few years ago: the myth (or truism? You decide) that one can’t be both a mother and a successful artist. While the truth of the statement may be debatable, what is true is that women will have great difficulty jump-starting or maintaining an artistic career if they also have to meet the demands of raising children.
This issue – and others related to being a woman and an artist – was covered in the 2008 documentary Who Does She Think She Is. See the trailer below, which begins with a newscaster listing the names of several famous female artists – none of whom had children. (I would add Embellished Manuscripts-favorite Frida Kahlo to the list. Kahlo could never have children because of a bus accident that nearly killed her at 18):
A few money quotes from the trailer:
“We have 80% female students at the school of visual arts but in the real world we have 70-80% male artists working in galleries and museums.”
“I had a museum director in my studio and he said, you know, you’re never really going to be taken seriously because you’re a woman and a mother.”
“I was really torn because I wanted to dedicate myself to my kids and yet I wanted to be in the studio all the time. I had lots of people saying I was selfish.”
The documentary is interesting viewing for anyone interested in the arts – or any concerned women or mothers who can relate! It argues that women and mothers need to be supported and empowered to get their work out there.
“An Interesting Life”
Another place where the mother/artist dynamic is discussed is a beautiful essay by Alicia Ostriker, “A Wild Surmise: Motherhood and Poetry.” Ostriker argues that the two roles (mother and artist) can co-exist. You will not suddenly, upon having children, lack “an interesting life.” While I can’t find the essay online, an excerpt from it can be found on this blog (along with the writer’s own thoughts, having been inspired by it.)
What are your thoughts? Are there any mothers or women who have some personal beliefs or stories related to this problem? Comment below!