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What is Motherist?

Motherist is a social practice experiment in artmaking between mother/artists and their children. It began a couple years ago when artists Briana Linden and Heather Hawksford began investigating the intersection of motherhood and artistry. We wondered "how can mothers work alongside one another and with our children to make meaningful artwork?" We had found that our work was informed by our experience of our children and were curious about diving deeper into our own practice, and in how motherhood altered other artists.

We found that when we became mothers, we were profoundly changed. The belief we had in the necessity of creativity is driven by our daily lived experience. Being a mother constantly informs our practice as artists, so it was only natural that our children became the foremost inspiration in our artmaking, as did the experience of motherhood.

Since its inception, Motherist has organically evolved, as is natural in the lives of busy mother-artists. Other mother-artists have engaged with the project through a residency, in which artists made work alongside and informed by their children’s curiosity. We led a family artmaking program at our local art museum in which we asked children and their families to respond to the prompts “what I love about where I live” and “my wish for Portland is…” in print form; the prints were made into a book and presented to our Mayor. Daily, we steal artmaking approaches from our children as they fearlessly and unceasingly create.

At its heart, Motherist is about seeing and responding to the world with a childlike curiosity. It’s about using the gifts of childhood to banish judgements that hinder creativity. It’s about finding ways to express our ideas about our lived experience, whether that’s noticing the beauty of the way rain wets hot pavement, or imagining what it would be like if we walked on our hands instead of our feet. By calling upon the imagination of our children, who harken us back to a time when our own ideas were limitless, we find endless fodder to investigate and articulate artistic expression.

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