Art and Motherhood

There have been a bunch of recent articles quoting the very famous Marina Abramović declaring motherhood would have been a detriment to her art. And then, obviously, the internet went into a hoopla. A. HOOPLA.

As someone who is a woman, is an artist (albeit significantly less famous) and is a mother, I thought I'd chime in.

I don't condemn Abramović for her general thoughts on motherhood. It's true, being a mother is a lot of work and does require an enormous amount of energy. And for a while, when my daughter was a newborn, it was impossible to get anything done. IMPOSSIBLE*. And it's also true that having kids changes your priorities. If I had to choose between being an artist and being a mother, I'd choose my daughter any day. ANY DAY FOR ALL ETERNITY. And on a feminist note, I absolutely applaud Abramović for deciding what is important to her, for obliterating societal expectations and for just kind of being a badass.


You wanna know what's great about being a woman, a mother or an artist in 2016? YOU DON'T HAVE TO CHOOSE. You can be one. You can be all. You can be none. It's kind of awesome.

The issues I do have with the Abramović's quotes are that she seems to think her experience is the rule. And it is dangerous territory to assume one's singular life experience is applicable to every single other person in the world.

Not to mention, her rule seems to be a mother** cannot be a successful artist because mothers are not 'free' to explore their art fully. Mothers are too vested in their families. There's no room for art.

I will say, from my own personal experience, motherhood has enhanced my art. I want to create work my daughter will be proud of. I want to create work that will leave this space just a little bit better for her. My daughter has given me the drive and determination to be a woman who can run a business, create meaningful work and be a devoted mother.

I get what Abramović is saying.


Don't speak for me.

*See? It was hard. But, mostly, temporary.

**To keep this short, I'm not even gonna attempt to launch into the issue of male artists who...oh, I don't know...are also fathers and would resent the insinuation that they have more 'free time' for art because their parental responsibilities/devotions are somehow less.

***All images in this post are of projects that I never would have pursued if not for my motherhood.

Share this post

Leave a comment

Note, comments must be approved before they are published

1 comment

  • Beautifully articulated. And echo your sentiments. If not for my kids, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing and with so much passion. I teach so I can me a mom. I’m a mom so I feel I am a more empathic teacher. ❤️

    • MElissa