Using objects in art is a great way to tell a hard truth. The object is infused with a message, a meaning that helps convey more subtly a story or reality. I chose to use a doll’s head to both explore a moment in childhood and also a parenting struggle.
In “Not living up to Barbie” 2017 I explored a tension I felt in motherhood. Barbie became a representation of “super mom”. As we learn more about child-rearing the “what sort of parenting do you do?” is a common question and judgement. With the rise of social media the pressures on mothers is exacerbated by Pinterest boards of busy moms running multiple figure businesses, dressed impeccably, making healthy nutritious meals for the family and living in immaculate homes. Barbie represents this false image we as women hold up. It’s an impossible standard to live up to.
It’s an impossible standard to live up to.
In this painting the table shows the beginning of meal prep and children’s toys. The never ending daily tasks (cooking, cleaning etc) that create a constant chaos both visually and organizationally. They also represent the basic needs (feeding our kids) as well as the joys we hope to create (a child playing is imagined through these objects). Among the beets can be found a human heart representing how we give so much of ourselves as mothers. The fence represents the tension between the deep need to keep our kids safe and the caged feeling of so much responsibility. As the Barbie head (aka “perfect mother”) is removed one can see that the figure is not defined and almost missing. This painting was a monumental shift in my perception of motherhood. When I put aside the pressures I felt as a mom (the tug of war between all the responsibilities, my hopes and gnawing self doubts) the biggest issue wasn’t my grappling with time management but that I didn’t even know who I was without the label of “Mother”. I had found myself missing from my own life.