Dr. Felice Amato is writing for the Journal of Mother Studies (JourMS) as part of the annual academic MOM Conference with the Museum of Motherhood which was held at the USF Campus in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018. The subject of the conference was teaching mother studies in the academy. An artist and educator, Dr. Felice Amato has a particular passion for puppetry and all forms of object performance. Amato taught K-12 art and Spanish (and art in Spanish) in public schools for 20 years before returning to school to pursue an MFA and subsequent PhD in art from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. For the latter, she focused primarily on women’s use of puppets and dolls in modernism and its connection to her own work. Amato also holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin. She has performed in a variety of venues including the Ballard Institute at U-CONN and Open Eye Figure Theater in Minneapolis. Amato has received numerous awards for her artistic work including a Jerome Foundation Grant from Northern Clay Center and two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants. She has published in Puppetry International and presented at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Puppeteers of America, and other conferences. She was recently chosen as an emerging artist at the Eugene O’Neill National Puppetry Conference where she created a piece based on Simone de Beauvoir’s 1949 work The Second Sex. Some of Amato’s interests are women’s and feminist studies, folklore and storytelling, making art education accessible to all, cross-cultural pedagogy, and English language learners in art education.
“What I Could Make of Mothering: Matricentric Puppetry and the Mothers of the Bestiary” is an autoethnographic work of creative non-fiction which explores the way the author makes work. She looks at how being a mother is thematically and practically entwined with the artistic process of making. She explores how she came to create puppet works specifically and how she contextualizes her work within the larger field of contemporary puppetry. She examines the personal and idiosyncratic sources of her inspiration and describes the experience of creating and performing a piece called Mothers of the Bestiary.