On The Subject of Identity

Is it just me or is the subtext of a majority of mommy blogs an essential question about identity?  I guess I speak for myself.  Becoming a mother has upturned my apple cart in the most fundamental of ways.  Actually, I no longer have a cart because my kids wanted to play with it so they stuck their toys and snacks in it and now it’s basically been dismantled and has banana and other unidentifiable fruit snacks smeared all over it.  So yes, my apple cart and my identity have both been upended.  In my case, it’s a good thing.  Disconcerting, frightening and vivifying by turns, I am sorting through issues of identity in the pages of this blog and in my spare time.

I don’t know if fathers have a similar seismic shift upon the birth of their children, but so many mothers I know struggle with identity.  I have been looking for examples of how mothers have explored identity in their art.  I am most comfortable exploring with words, but I think the art world has much to offer me here.

For example, I love the work of Nicole Gordon, a Chicago artist, who is also a mother of two young boys.  Gordon achieved great success prior to the birth of her sons, and she continues to enjoy the acclaim and support of the art world.  Her latest show at Linda Warren Gallery in downtown Chicago (http://www.lindawarrengallery.com/artists/gordon/index.shtml) showcases some of the ways that motherhood has impacted her work.

I love Gordon’s piece titled Cathedral II.  If you look closely you can see familiar childhood toys– the sock monkey, teddy bears, and the little wobbly penguin toy. I won’t pretend to know how to talk about art as an art critic, since a semester of Art History at Texas A&M hardly qualifies me to discuss anything except the hot mess that was the Rococo period. Gordon’s work really speaks for itself, but I will say two things: (1) I love her work because what I see are images of motherhood intruding (consciously? unconsciously?) on her work, and I see the work as a whole as example of how to embrace new images born of a new role in the world (as mother).  (2) You really should see the exhibit in person because it’s stunning and you can only read so many damn blogs.  Get out; get some sunshine; see some great art.  Buy your favorite blogger one of Nicole’s pieces– I have my eye on the golden deer-head chandelier.    This picture is more stunning in person

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5 thoughts on “On The Subject of Identity

  1. I Have been struggling with this big time, lately! Actually, I just had a huge break through this week while talking it out and around with Sean. I discovered I have struggled with identity most my life. I was able to fill the space with so much I didn’t know it was something I needed to work on. Now, I feel like I am mostly mom. 60% of the time that feels like enough. I am working on the other 40%. The real work for me begins when I strip off all the titles- current and past and figure out me…naked at my core. Too deep for a blog reply? Maybe. Either way, I really related to this post. Keep on bloggin’!

  2. Since having kids, I’ve been turned inside out and upside down. On days that I’m not a blubbering, shower-less mess, I’m thankful. My kids rule me right now, yet I could inhale them if they’d let me. I’ve never been such a wreck in my life, although I feel that i’m finally “living.” I can’t sleep until I know they are tucked in, yet I crave time to sit and do nothing, without any one crawling or pawing all over me (includes the hubby). They drive me in sane but have made me a better person. Their zest for life inspires me to live my dreams, yet I’ve never been a bigger mess because of it. Make sense?

    We have a lot in common. I broke up with my six-figure corporate job in 2004 when my son was 6 weeks old. To find myself. To write. Novels. Which I did and are doing. Hardest decision I’ve ever made. But now look at me. I’m free.

    Keep writing. You have talent.

    • Stephanie, you have come so far in such a short amount of time. Was it Sr. Sue Ann who discovered your talent? I am happy you are free and I love your first novel. I pray to be free as well.

      • Yes, Sr. Sue Ann was the one. She planted the seed, so to speak. Pulled me aside junior year and said she saw talent and promise in my writing. And I hated writing at the time. But her comment stuck with me. I started out pre-law at SMU, but then my writing prof freshman year told me to look at writing as a career. So I switched to journalism. And the rest, as they say, is a long, drawn-out, harder than hell history, but damn it, I’m here.

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