The Central, Yet Invisible, Labor of Motherhood in Art

Miriam Schaer, “Ida and Tabitha #39” (2014) digital C print (image courtesy Miriam Schaer)

Aside from obligatory annual displays of sentimentality on Mother’s Day (a holiday famously disavowed by its founder for its commercialization), the labor of mothering — as well as parenting and care work more broadly — remains largely invisible in our culture despite its ubiquity. With rare exceptions, this invisibility is just as true in the worlds of art, design, and architecture as everywhere else. Those worlds are the particular microcosm that the essays in Inappropriate Bodies: Art, Design, and Maternity seek to address. The book, published by Demeter Press, gathers 20 texts by academic scholars, curators, and practicing artists and designers, many of whom wear additional hats as activists and arts administrators, to reflect on what one author calls the “mother-shaped hole” in contemporary art.

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