From May 2020 – August 2020, I participated in the ART – IN – PLACE, a collaboration between CNL Projects and Terrain Exhibitions that invites artists to exhibit an original work of art outside their home or from a window visible to the public. I made two yard signs using an abandoned corduroy quilt. In french knots, I stitched the words take care, and plopped them down in my front yard. I extended that greeting from my little family to my neighborhood and indeed, to the world.
“From tomorrow your job as a mother is done!” my son said the day before he left home; one week after the initial lockdown was announced and two weeks before the start of it. For a year or two leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic I had felt sad and fearful. I questioned my identity as a woman and role as a mother. His departure was premature when lockdown was announced. This was because I needed to shield for health reasons. It was an emotional time and it felt relevant to resurrect my project Motherhood is… in order to reach out to other mothers and share experiences of mothering at this difficult time.
Before the pandemic and the birth of my infant back in March 2020, I considered myself a ceramic artist who made some installation and mixed media work. Having a baby in March during a worldwide pandemic necessitated some changes. For a while the university ceramics lab where I work was shut down, and all teaching went online. Then because of new Covid-19 restrictions the studio needed to be radically repurposed and all my things moved to another area. This new space took awhile to become workable. Though I have a supportive husband who has also worked from home during the pandemic and shares childcare equally, nursing made finding longer chunks of time to go to the studio difficult.
This is an art piece made in emergency response to a BBC news feed read on Wednesday 6th January. Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon called for the reopening of schools after the February half term to be “signed in blood”
It started off so well. Lockdown mark one. My daughter was furloughed from her job in London and decided to come back home, and within a few days my husband was also furloughed. For the first time ever, we all lived under one roof, all at home, all supporting each other, for weeks on end; planning quiz nights, gourmet food evenings and starting and even finishing projects in the garden, as the sun shone and the birds’ tweeting got louder and louder. We shared domestic roles, fears and fun times and despite good intentions in the first weeks, I realised that I was not going to be shedding 3 stones and getting fitter. But what did happen was that I had time to play in my studio and focus on developing a new body of work for an upcoming exhibition in October. I could get totally absorbed and know that someone would be sorting out dinner or walking the dog. The house was used and abused and expanded to accommodate us all. I nurtured my youngest child, watched streamed female feminist plays with her, listened to her podcasts, she introduced us to new foods and we taught her about scrubbing patios and making a veggie garden. I never imagined she would be back living with us again and whilst we all had our ups and downs, it was 12 weeks of joyful and precious moments.
Artists give ourselves visual problems to solve, and mine is this: How can I visually communicate the emotional immensity of 2020? An ocean of symbolism is poured into my imagery as I tried to convey the complexity of navigating this global pandemic landscape: Spring arrives, but Covid blinds us to it as we focus on… Continue reading Becoming Buoyant by Janis Mars Wunderlich
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I have a secret. Life was hard before lockdown started. I dare say the past three years have been the most difficult of my life. I have known for a while now that the world we live in is in many ways not suited to parents of young children, especially not mothers. Safely navigating our children through baby- and toddlerhood is a challenge for most of us, and few of us are prepared for what it truly takes before we have them. What I did not expect was that, as my children got older, they would turn out to need more rather than less look-aftering.
In January 2020, I made the decision to become a full-time artist. This was the career path I had yearned for and prepared for over the last decade of working in education, curation and arts administration. What I did not anticipate, was that as I was opening my largest solo exhibition to date in Austin, Texas on March 6 the city, state and country were already in various levels of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the visiting artist opportunities were suspended and other revenue streams vanished. I am also a single mother of two young children, which made this situation even more challenging.
It was that time of the day again, when day light slowly fades away, the shadows deepen at the edges of the room, and the weak remaining rays that enter through the windows form small dreamlike patterns on the interior, pulsating in rhythm with the moving tree crowns outside. The edges of things seemed to become more diffuse and the curtains, bed, wardrobe, fireplace, mirror, radiator, pictures and other knick-knacks ceased to be separate entities, and instead formed a comforting, low key, fabric-like backdrop to my thoughts. It was my waiting-time, where I spent an hour or so, on my own, in the bedroom, waiting for a phone call with a report from the hospital, telling me if my mother was beating or beaten by covid-19.