FEMINIST ART AND THE MATERNAL

Attentive to a resurgence of interest in the maternal within feminist art and theory circles in the first two decades of the 21st century, particularly in North America and England, this research theme asks what the discursive and material differences are between early maternal art works of the 1970s, when the maternal last erupted as a touchstone issue within feminist art, and those being produced today. The maternal, in the feminist art of the 1970s, emerged primarily as a challenge to the institutional exclusion of women, on the basis of maternal status, from the professional spheres of the art world, and the devaluation of “women’s work” such as maintenance and care labour. Inspired by these earlier works, many artists working with the maternal in their artistic practices today argue for a return to feminist collective and political practices that take undervalued maintenance and care labour seriously — a return that takes place, however, in the context of an ecological crisis that can no longer be ignored. This interest formed the basis of a multi-pronged project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) through an Insight Development Grant and has resulted in a wide variety of outputs, the most notable of which were a series of international exhibitions on feminist art and the maternal, New Maternalisms, New Maternalisms - Chile, and New Maternalisms: Redux, each accompanied by a catalogue and curatorial text, and an international colloquium, Mapping the Maternal: Art, Ethics, and the Anthropocene.


Selected Publications