TROY – There are no off-hours for working artists and mothers. They have full plates and packed schedules. But the latest exhibition to open at Collar Works in Troy examines how motherhood has enriched rather than dulled the palettes of many.
Titled “Painting At Night,” the exhibit features works from more than 50 artists who are also mothers. It was juried by artist Judith Braun and organized by The Artist/Mother Podcast, which was founded by Kaylan Buteyn in 2018 and has become a community for artists who are mothers.
The title was inspired by the quote, “You can’t paint at night in your kitchen and hope to be a good artist,” which was included in a 2015 New York Times article.
“The Artist/Mother Podcast community is here to poke a hole in that mythical, stupid statement,” Braun said in a statement. “Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic proven that all serious artists will work wherever they can, but great art has always come from difficult circumstances. The authenticity and soul of any endeavor is born out of the drive and desire to express oneself against all odds. I don’t for one minute believe that kids and kitchen tables are hurdles artists who are mothers cannot jump. Mothers have their hands and hearts and heads full, but they are the pioneers of making it work.”
Some of the pieces on view at Collar Works directly address motherhood. Emilia White’s photograph “One with the Mess” shows a play space with toys scattered about and a figure, clothed completely in yellow with painted eyes, nose and mouth, resting ominously underneath a table, its head and neck sticking out beside blocks and other toys.
In Angela Fremont’s oil on canvas “What’s A Mother To Do?” two children are seen trying to punch and kick each other as a woman in a 1950s-style blue dress and heels looks on in horror.
“In the ’80s and ’90s, as a young mother in the east village, struggling to continue to make art, take care of my babies and earn a living, life was no easy feat. Some days I thought I was losing my mind,” Fremont wrote in an artist’s statement. “The only solace was in making art.”
Other works don’t directly address motherhood, but touch on related themes.
Among some of the standouts is the sinister watercolor by Tracie Noles-Ross titled “Ship of Theseus: The Beleaguered Life Boat.” A boat is sailing along a sea, powered by bright red oars that seem to be attached to artery-like lines, which float above the ship and onto the sail.
“We humans seem to hold tight to this notion that even as our bodies age and change dramatically in a lifetime, we are the same person from cradle to grave,” Noles-Ross said in an artist’s statement. “We know that none of the original cells we were born with are part of us at our death, but we still feel like the same person throughout our lives. . . . This suggests that perhaps we are more than our bodies. I believe the journey, our evolving minds, our ideas and memories, and sometimes others’ perceptions of us determine our identities.”
Another impressive work is embroidery by Alexandra Beaumont, who depicted a room in her apartment, including a desk, mirror, bookcase and plants.
Not far away are two humorous illustrations by Katie Mae Hafner, including one in which a figure sits on a toilet reading, with a caption that says “A private place.”
“Painting At Night” will be on view at Collar Works through July 31. There will be an artists’ reception from 5-7 pm. June 25. Collar Works is located at 621 River St. in Troy. For information, visit collarworks.org.