The Artist Parent Index

Sarah Irvin

I have pretended not to be pregnant and have hid my kids at various low points in my art dealings. I received one day sick leave from my teaching job for each pregnancy…I anticipated institutional discrimination (private dealers included) but it is depressing to encounter condescension from other artists. The taboo against motherhood (and/or speaking of it) seems fostered by the male myth of art as separate from and above all else. This is old stuff.

-Arlene Shechet

Forum on Motherhood, Art, and Apple Pie


In February 2014, I informed my graduate advisor, Paula Crawford, that I was pregnant. I outlined a plan for my MFA thesis to revolve around the study of my experience of pregnancy and caring for my child, using it as a material and method for making work. Paula had become pregnant with her first child shortly after completing the Whitney Independent Study Program in the mid-1980s. She described telling her Whitney mentor of her pregnancy. “His reaction rather amazed me,” she said, “It was as though I had told him I had given up art. His disappointment was palpable. But more than that, it was as if this news had converted the ‘artist me’, the ‘theoretical me’ into an inscrutable female body. We had held seminars on poststructuralist feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, and yet somehow the physical reality of a woman’s body doing this mysterious thing, and me being that body, was unfathomable, a betrayal. I had always felt myself to be a mind, and was now a body in his presence.”

She also described continuing on as an artist in resistance to an art world culture where parenthood seemed to have no impact on a man’s career but threw a woman’s into doubt. “The sense was if you were serious about becoming an artist—and this applied only to women—you should not have a child, nor should you want to have one. If you did, your career occurred despite motherhood rather than in motherhood. So that in concert with the professional silencing of mother identity, there came a self-imposed one.” In dramatic contrast to her mentor’s response to her own pregnancy, she left our meeting enthusiastic in response to mine.

Over the next two years, she not only supported my decision and embraced the experience of pregnancy and early motherhood as the basis and content of my thesis work, but she also accommodated for the needs of myself and my child within my course requirements. There were many weekly meetings where I breastfed or we walked the building pushing a stroller. She mothered me through my early mothering as well as through the reinvention of my studio practice – not in spite of, but alongside a child. Just as a traditional student is provided with the resources to succeed and a schedule that accommodates for their uncompromisable needs for adequate sleep and food, I was given the same. Isolating my education within a fall and spring semester was no longer a sustainable structure. While I was pregnant, I took an overload of courses during the spring semester and summer. I needed time to recover from labor and delivery uncompromisingly taking place in the month of October, so my advisor saw no reason for me to maintain a traditional 9-12 credit hour, two-semester per year structure.

The semester I gave birth, I reduced my course load and completed three hours of credit by creating work in early parenthood that, because of its concept and methods, had to take place in my home while my child was an infant. I completed work during an intermittent and irregular sleep schedule, frequent doctor visits, and infant feeding schedule taking place around the clock. Confining my academic work to the daytime with an uninterrupted period of sleep that takes place only at night was not compatible with the biological needs of my child, and so I brought my work into a schedule that was. This is in contrast to some students who give birth and have no option but to take a semester or year off from a rigid academic structure in which students are expected to work within very concentrated semesters at a set academic pace and schedule. By being treated slightly differently than other students, I was given equal access to a graduate education and able to graduate within the typical three years of the program. I took the order and structure of the academic system and reinvented it, enacting an alternative order to the prevailing one that assumes students do not participate in care work alongside their education.

There is a constellation of factors that allows for a discourse to take place within an institutional and academic setting. My socioeconomic status, family support, and the fact that I was in a relationship striving for equality within caretaking responsibilities were factors that influenced my ability to pursue a practice focused on my experience of mothering. My emphasis here is focused on the academic setting that provided a platform for me to engage in my work and the resulting project, The Artist Parent Index, which responds to the historical silencing of the experience of those who reproduce or care for their children within these settings. I am not putting forth the notion that the program was a utopia of complete and total support; it was not. I was encouraged not to disclose the subject matter of my work by a visiting artist as it “stood on its own aesthetically,” as if I would be relieved to know that I could keep my embarrassing secret of motherhood and still be an artist. With no other subject matter have I ever been encouraged to hide the concepts surrounding my work. However, I did not hide my baby, and I did not need to. With a general consensus of support, we collectively approached my maternal experience as valid, therefore opening a critical dialogue around the work rather than marginalizing and silencing the subject matter and experience within academic discourse.

Overall, I was not working in spite of my mentors as Paula had, but in part because of the support and critical feedback of many of them. Most importantly, I was able to work within an alternative structure that gave me space, time, and encouragement within the academic setting to openly pursue something that has been historically discredited as an activity for serious female artists, much less the subject matter of their work. In order to express a first-person perspective of what it means to reproduce or care for your child, an artist needs to reproduce or care for their child. If artists with this perspective are not allowed in academic settings simultaneously with their experience, the artist-parent voice will remain predominantly silenced within the academy.

In Matricentric Feminism: Theory, Activism, and Practice, Andrea O’Reilly outlines the lacuna of the maternal typically found within academic feminist discourse. She finds:

The percentages of motherhood content in women studies conferences, journals, textbooks, and syllabi range form under 1 percent to just under 3 percent. Given that 80 percent of women become mothers in their lifetime, there is an evident disconnect between the minimal representation of motherhood in academic feminism and the actual lives of most women. … Moreover, these low percentages do not reflect or capture the considerable and significant research done on motherhood in the last twenty years. (O’Reilly 2016: 197)

In response to the consistent lack of representation despite the presence of a significant amount of artwork on the topic of motherhood, I created the Artist Parent Index. During the final year of my program, I worked for the university library’s Fenwick Gallery. The space, created by Art and Art History Librarian Jenna Rinalducci, features the research and work of university art students and faculty. The details of each exhibit, such as images, information on artwork and artists, details of the books from the curated gallery bookshelves, and exhibition catalogs, were archived on a website built with Omeka, an open-source digital platform for publishing scholarship developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Through Omeka, anyone with access to the internet and server space can present their research using a variety of plugins created to easily organize information for free.

That semester, artist Anna Ogier-Bloomer posted on Facebook in the Cultural ReProducers Network, a group founded by the Chicago-based organization where parents in the art community can share resources and pose questions to one another. Anna commented that she was curating a show on motherhood and asked if anyone could suggest some artists. This request highlighted a need that, because of my recent archiving of the Fenwick Gallery exhibits, I felt could be met through an Omeka site. What if all of Anna’s options were in one location and could be easily filtered and traversed by topic, location, or medium? While there are many books featuring excellent examples of the work in question, there was no digital repository or comprehensive list covering the discourse that was searchable in this way. I realized that what the Fenwick Gallery Omeka site did for an exhibition space could also be done for an entire global discourse.

In January 2016, I launched the Artist Parent Index using the Omeka platform[1]. It was made possible in part by the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research at George Mason University, which funded undergraduate student Michelle Jose to work with me on the project throughout the spring semester of 2016. The project continues at the time of writing, in part through the volunteer efforts of Kathryn Carney. The Artist Parent Index aspires to be a comprehensive guide to the global visual art discourse on reproduction and caretaking of one’s children. As a force unifying the variety of artistic and curatorial practices pursuing these topics, the Index aims to be a catalyst for people to generate new work in this field while advocating for the work that has already been created.

The curatorial aim of the index is a comprehensive, topically-focused one rather than one that produces a value judgment of the work falling under its parameters. Any visual artist creating work from and about their first-person experience of parenthood can be included. Within the parameters of the Index, parenthood is self-defined by the artist. The Index does not include artists on the basis that they are a parent and also an artist[2] or artists making work about their own parents or genealogy, but sets the criteria around artists whose work focuses on their experience of what they define as parenthood. The Index features work that takes the viewpoint of mother/father/reproducer/parent, and expresses knowledge about the experience of this position. Appropriate topics include accounts of pregnancy, adopting a child, having your biological child be adopted, infertility, the decision not to reproduce, fertility treatments, fatherhood, motherhood, non-custodial parents/fathers/mothers, breastfeeding, formula feeding, miscarriage, postpartum depression and psychosis, abortion, artistic practice alongside parenting/fathering/mothering, gender and parenting/fathering/mothering, experiencing tantrums, postpartum bodies, queer parenting, and childcare. As a comprehensive guide to the discourse, the Index and its list of potential topics are open-ended and dynamic, and constantly updated in response to changes in the field.

Sara Ruddick wrote about the use of language surrounding gender, biology, and mothering in Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace. After observing that “[i]t is hard to speak precisely about mothering,” Ruddick sought to make it easier by defining “mother” as “a person who takes on responsibility for children’s lives and for whom providing child care is a significant part of her or his working life,” and clarifying that she believed “mothering is potentially work for men and women.” (Ruddick 1989: 29, 40). These ideas regarding “mothering” have influenced my use of “parent” in the project’s title. Ruddick’s use of ‘mother’ as a non-gendered notion is contingent on the action of care, but the goal of the Index is to map points of view of those who have actively engaged with their body’s ability to reproduce that are not necessarily active in the ‘discipline and practice of caretaking of children’ along with points of view that meet Ruddick’s definition of the maternal. Examples of these viewpoints include those who are committed to care for their children but do not feel that they ‘mother,’ those who solely inseminate and/or donate sperm, those who engage in their work about the decision not to reproduce, and those involved in other types of parenting I have not anticipated. The ability to see these points of view alongside one another is one of the advantages of the project. Using the non-gendered terms “mothering”, “mother”, and “maternal” in the title of the project would fail to encompass everything the Index is designed to map.

I consider the title of the Artist Parent Index itself to be provisional and would adapt it if I felt there was another word that were more inclusive while also maintaining focus on the variety of voices expressing what it means that we, as human beings, are capable of reproducing, regardless of whether, individually, we can or do. Those who call themself a mother generally also refer to themself as a parent, but not everyone who calls themself a parent refers to themself as a mother. Defaulting to this common usage of parent was a way of inviting new people into the discourse who may not be familiar with Ruddick’s definitions. By using the word “index”, I am referencing the way an index functions at the end of a book, highlighting the fact that the project directs you to the place where the relevant content exists.

Omeka allows for a variety of ways to display digital information. The information can be broadly grouped into “collections” of “items,” which I compare loosely to albums and images respectively on other digital platforms. In the Index, a “collection” is categorical based on the type of information represented in the entry. Artists are all in one collection, books are in their own collection, and so forth. For each type of item, I’ve created a unique set of metadata, the information associated with each entry (table 1). Each entry includes an image representative of the artist’s work, the exhibition, organization, or the book. While digital, it does not digitize the artwork at hand itself, but rather points to what the artists themselves have digitized on their websites.

Collection: Artist Parent Index

The Artist Parent Index collection includes entries featuring artists making work about their experience as parents. The metadata for an artist includes: name, website, medium, location (city, state/province, country), artist statement, topics, and exhibitions. The “topics” associated with each entry are ideas investigated in the work and general descriptors of the artist or their practice.

Collection: Exhibition Archive

For exhibition entries, exhibits must include work that fits the same qualification as the artist entries. For any artist in the exhibit who also has an artist entry on the site, the entries are tied to each other through a link to the artist entry within the list of artists in the exhibition metadata. Conversely, there is a link to the exhibition entry under the list of exhibitions on the artist’s page. The metadata associated with each exhibition includes: exhibition title, website, gallery or museum name, location (city, state/province, country), curator, curatorial statement, artist(s), duration, and topics.

Collection: Artist Parent Organization Database

The loosely curated “organization” database is a group of collectives, projects, journals, research institutes, and any type of community venture that supports artists who are parents. The goal is to connect artists to resources that may be in their geographical location, or to online resources. Metadata for organizations include: name, location, topic, general description/mission statement, website, and director.

Collection: Resource Library

The Resource Library initially started as a static page that listed relevant publications encountered in my own research on the website and has since became its own collection. After receiving multiple requests for research recommendations from colleagues, I once again saw the need for an archive, this time as a bibliography of works exploring reproduction, caretaking, maternal theory, toolkits for artist parents, and anything I felt might inform the practice of those exploring similar topics in visual arts. Hoping to find new ways to jumpstart research, I began the Resource Library as an effort to curate an interdisciplinary list of resources that the curious can quickly navigate based on topic of interest. Metadata associated with books include: title, author, editor, translator, contributors, publisher, city of publication, state/province of publication, country of publication, date of publication, ISBN 13, ISBN 10, and topic.

Table 1: Metadata

Artist Parent Index Exhibition Archive



location (city, state/province, country)

artist statement



exhibition title


gallery name

museum name

location (city, state/province, country)


curatorial statement




Artist Parent Organization Database Resource Library



general description/mission statement website








city of publication

state/province of publication

country of publication

date of publication




The structure of the Index is informed by the existing dialogue on the power of systems of knowledge production and organization. In “Trouble in the Archives,” Griselda Pollock speaks to the nature of the archive and what it could be:

If we do not see the history of art in terms of the olympic torch theory of a chain of great individuals, we can use the term ‘archive’ to suggest a more ramshackle, heterogenous record which can be examined using different lines of enquiry in which what would be studied would be relations between texts, images, events and individuals. (Pollock 1993: 12)

As further detailed below, the formation of the Index is a creative act of archive production, informed by feminist rethinkings of the archive and the narrative of art history through its representation of an underrepresented group, its free access to those with the internet, and its prioritization of content that it does not own or directly manage. Within its provisional structure it accepts contributions and grants agency to the artists in their self-description and operates with non-hierarchical browsing and search options, therefore further challenging the notion of a fixed historical cannon controlled by privileged gatekeepers. Just as my graduate school experience was a reworking of the prevailing academic structure, the Artist Parent Index operates as a reworking of historical notions of the archive and processes of knowledge production.

Through “Trouble in the Archives”, Pollock additionally explores the ethical considerations inherently within the role of those engaged with the content of archives and active in producing knowledge based on those collections of objects and information:

The term “archive” has yet another implication. It makes us self-conscious as historians, demanding the necessary sense of self-scrutiny as we engage with materials which have several pasts: a historical moment of production, a historical moment of consumption, a historical moment of entry into art historical discourse, into the museum, the canon, the classroom, into our cultural ‘patrimonies’, into a myriad of discursive frameworks, and, into our formations as subjects who make or study art, or just belong to certain cultures shaped by what is in and what is not acknowledged by the archive. (Pollock 1993: 12)

With these considerations of how we study, record, and understand art in mind, I approach the project as one who cares for a discourse with obligations to the people and ideas involved, and I categorize its formation as an act of production with inherent ethical considerations. In On Caring, Milton Mayeroff outlines a philosophy of caring not only for people, but also for ideas through supporting their growth. He states, “With the growth of an idea comes a deeper understanding of what its basic assumptions are, what it can and cannot do, and a clearer sense of what is relevant and irrelevant for its further development” (Mayeroff 1972: 14). Through archiving the details of artistic, curatorial, and theoretical work dealing with experiences of reproduction and caretaking of children and providing this information as a research tool in order to further the discourse through the study of their relations, the Index cares for the ideas of the artists, curators, and art historians. The act of caring for an idea is therefore a generative one, allowing for an understanding of many possible outcomes for the discourse.

Through the production of a para-archive, the Artist Parent Index allows for visitors to form new ways of understanding the present discourse of contemporary art by producing an alternative sense of order. In The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order, Kate Eichhorn features case studies of feminist documents and zines produced by women entering institutional collections and the way these collections “find new ways to navigate otherwise rigid grids” of institutional and archival procedures to make a presence for discourses that had been absent within these institutions (Eichhorn 2013: 142). Eichhorn states, “A turn toward the archive is not a turn toward the past but rather an essential way of understanding and imagining other ways to live in the present” (9).

Eichhorn’s text features a case study on librarian Jenna Freedman’s effort to catalog approximately 5500 zines made by women in the special collection of Barnard College at Columbia University. She describes Freedman’s cataloging efforts and subsequent lobbying of the Library of Congress Catalog to expand their subject headings in attempts to more accurately describe the zines, their contents, and the viewpoints of their creators. Through the addition of new language into the LCC’s subject headings and the presence of the material itself, Freedman cares for the ideas and people involved in the discourse by making them present where they had once been absent. By challenging the existing order through the implementation of alternative orders by adding new language in the institution, Freedman works to make visible that which had been left out and therefore produces new potential futures for research and discourse. In response to Foucault’s The Order of Things, Eichhorn states:

Order is both that which one cannot escape and that which enables us to imagine possible worlds. Purely restrictive and purely speculative, the order of things is everything that holds us back and everything that enables us to be liberated from established constraints. Understood along these lines, order is not opposed to resistance but always already what might make the rejection of existing systems of thought and established grids of intelligibility possible. As a result, order is precisely what structures resistance from start to finish. (Eichhorn 2013: 151)

The archival turn in theory resulted in a complete blurring of what can be and is defined as an archive. The result is a multitude of activities and practices, all falling under and around the notion of the archive, that work to make order from disorder. The Artist Parent Index is as an attempt to make an order within a discourse as an archive/map/catalog. In “The Library of Babel” (1941), Borges depicts the universe as an infinite library containing an infinite number of unique books, which therefore includes books of complete nonsense and also a “faithful catalog of the library itself.” (Borges 1941:115) Many of the Library’s inhabitants are driven to insanity or obsession in response its infinite nature. He writes, “For every rational line or forthright statement there are leagues of senseless cacophony, verbal nonsense, and incoherency.” (Borges 1941: 114) From the perspective of the narrator, if you travel far enough, the “volumes are repeated in the same disorder-which, repeated, becomes order: the Order.” (Borges 1941: 119) It is the Library’s supposed catalog that reveals this Order.

In Fantasies of the Library, Anna-Sophie Springer describes the library catalog as having “the core aim of the rationalizing work in the library” and as “the central nervous system of the library’s organization.” (27). She further outlines the catalog as an inherently absurd project that thus claims its place at the center of Borges’s tale. Additionally, of cataloging, she writes, “The rearrangement of archival information in order to compose new adjacencies and meanings is an intersectional activity where the work of writing, editing, and curating become difficult to distinguish.” (Springer 2016: 37)

The Index can be described through Springer’s characterization of cataloging as an absurd curatorial pursuit through the creation of ‘new adjacencies’ between the art practices it tracks with an impossible goal of providing a comprehensive guide to the discourse. I am an active agent in setting the parameters of the catalog, but with the intent of continually resetting them as the discourse develops in an attempt to map it in its shifting totality. As an agent of its creation through structuring its metadata, format, topical terminology, and user experience, I am making meaning within and through the living archive. Since the Index is not the library-of-babel-that-is-the-universe, I am making judgments on what to leave in and what to leave out through its curatorial parameters. The act of mapping is the creation of something that is in and of itself a type of content with unique relational specificity and singular form. The archive/catalog/map/index is not neutral. Once again referencing Pollock, the ‘necessary sense of self-scrutiny’ is not only needed in engagement with the archive but in also in its creation.

The Artist Parent Index maps new areas in the discourse as they appear. This assumption that it will evolve and produce new relations and the re-thinking of old relations is counter to the notion of a fixed canon of art-historical achievement. The method of presenting the information is provisional and always only ever aiming towards the impossibility of existing as actually comprehensive.

The Index was enabled by an academic program caring for a student and discourse and in turn the Index cares for the discourse as well. I feel compelled to care for these ideas, and to care for others pursuing their growth in response to the space that was created and protected for my own practice by others and due to its lack of recognition in the greater history and discourse of visual art. There are a myriad of oil paintings depicting “mother and child” or “woman breastfeeding,” but how many depict “I have a child” or “`I am breastfeeding”[3] and how many of those that do are represented in major collections or textual histories of art?

The act of cataloging declares the information to be worth cataloging and therefore worth researching. By displaying the depth and breadth of the creative work done in this area, the project outlines its legitimacy and highlights the void within the histories and collections of art that do not include it. The Index utilizes a version of “order” that is familiar within academic and institutional settings, and therefore promotes the content’s increased visibility in these settings.

Institutional cataloging systems typically allow exclusively for the use of predetermined terminology within their metadata. However, the Artist Parent Index allows artists to develop their own descriptors for each entry. Specifically the “topics” describing both the artist and their work, are generated by the artist and myself or an intern, with final approval of the artist prior to publishing online. I work in tandem with the artists to produce descriptive terms aiming towards the largest number of connections between entries and possible number of hits for any search on the site. Together, we create an ever evolving “order.” This constrains the site’s ability to grow quickly, but gives the artists increased agency in their representation and allows more democratic participation in its creation.

‘Research’ is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as a “careful or diligent search”. The word ‘search’ comes from the Latin circare-to go about, from circum-round about, from circus, which is from circle. The prefix ‘re’ is defined as “again.” Perhaps then, to research is to go around in a circle again. Within this line of thought, the format of the website provides the perfect setting for research, visitors can circle through the site non-hierarchically in search of information as many times as they want, whenever they want.

Users can explore the site through a Boolean search, and the advanced search option allows visitors to explore within specific collections, within a geographic radius, or browse by tag. The items found on the homepage are pulled from the four collections and repopulate each time the page is refreshed to create random access points to information in a non-hierarchical way. The browsing experience on the homepage mimics browsing shelves of a library, but someone picks up the shelf and shakes the books into a new arrangement each time you come to the library.

Most entries contain related locations, which appear on the site map, using the “Geolocation” plugin. The location pin of the map can be selected, leading the visitor to the entry represented by that pin. Users can navigate the map to find entries related to specific locations, allowing for encounters of information that they may not have accessed through a search term. Therefore, the visitor is able to produce an understanding of the content through a geospatial lens. This experience is less hierarchical and more varied than a fixed vertical list of items, however through the plugin there is a static top, bottom, left, and right of the map that leads the viewer to encounter work in a generally similar order with each visit.

No entry is a dead end as each is connected to other entries or to information outside of the site. Using the “Search By Metadata” plugin, medium and topic metadata are live links automatically populating a list for all other entries with the same medium or topic, similar to the function of many digital library catalogs. For instance, clicking “breastfeeding” under the list of topics in any given entry takes the visitor to a list of all of the artists, exhibitions, organizations, or books in the Index that also list breastfeeding as a topic. The site points outward towards a dynamic view of artists and their works, operating less as authoritative owner of a history, and more as a connector between visitor and artist. It is empty of the content that it seeks to record, instead of providing enough information to allow the visitor to decide if they are interested in visiting the artist’s website. It does not contain the artistic practices that it catalogs but points to the self-controlled web pages where the artists document and digitally enunciate their own work. The visitor is therefore always given the option of further exploring the index or to be lead completely out of the website along with a specific path of their choosing. I have compared the Index to a map that continually unfolds itself and as a hub that emanates new channels of information. This is also similar to a library catalog, but the library typically owns the objects it is cataloging. The project relates more in this way to a tracing, mapping, or tracking rather than a catalog of possessions.

Despite the inclusive curatorial parameters, the site inherently reveals my network and identity. The initial entries radiated out from my existing contacts and therefore inherently speak to my experience, research, circumstances, and community within the maternal discourse. In an attempt to break from the constraints of my history and view of the discourse, I enabled the site’s “Contribution” plugin, allowing visitors to submit relevant work by providing basic metadata through an entry form. Seventy-six entries have been submitted through this feature at the time of writing, which is 43% of the total artist entries. As a free resource to those with the internet that is open to contributions, the project strives for equal access rather than the production of a privileged audience.

In “For Slow Institutions,” Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez challenges institutions and their curators “to slow down their ways of working and being, to imagine new ecologies of care as a continuous practice of support” and puts forth an imperative “…to radically open up our institutional borders and show how these work—or don’t—in order to render our organizations palpable, audible, sentient, soft, porous, and above all, decolonial and anti-patriarchal.” My hope for the project is that it works toward these goals, and I strive to remain other focused. As the project cares for the ideas and allows others to understand where they could go, it enables, incites, and provokes many potential futures. In a slow act of care, I will take time to highlight some histories of the discourse that I feel need to be addressed as we move toward these futures.

The lack of representation of the subject matter within gallery, museum, and academic settings is the result of the inequality in not only who controls these settings but also in who is participating in the experience of reproduction and caretaking. This discourse is historically one of women, and I hope the discourse surrounding parenting in all its forms would become more expansive through greater inclusivity of voices resulting from greater gender diversity in the actual day to day discipline and practice of caretaking for children.

If this project is a map, the areas marked terra incognita are expansive, in that major sections of the globe, cultures, and groups of people are not represented. I believe this to be a combination of the fact that the project originally springs forth from my personal network, but also an indicator that in visual arts this is currently a discourse dominated by white women. In the areas where the project as a map has failed to capture information, I am actively working to expand representation through open calls, continued research, and concerted efforts to map as much as possible. I encourage intentional support of the expression of the experience of parenthood in the visual arts within a diversity of communities. Lack of privilege must be removed as a barrier for making work on this subject, and cultural norms must be shifted away from the taboo of the topic.

If we do not know, much less understand, the experience, circumstances, and viewpoints of large groups of people, we will not be able to work towards equality as a society. Incorporating an ethic of care into our cultural and educational institutions will produce greater equality, and models for care can be learned from those who are enacting them in their everyday lives and making them known through their art practices.

If your work should be included in the Artist Parent Index, please submit your information by visiting:

Works Cited

Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Library of Babel.” Collected Fictions. Trans. Andrew Hurley. New York: Penguin, 1998. Pp. 114-115, 119.

Eichhorn, Kate. The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order. Temple University Press, 2013, pp. 9, 18, 142, 151.

Mayeroff, Milton. On Caring. HarperPerennial, 1990, p. 14

O’Reilly, Andrea. Matricentric Feminism: Theory, Activism, and Practice. Demeter Press, 2016, p. 197.

Petrešin-Bachelez, Nataša. “For Slow Institutions” e-flux journal, Issue #85, 2017, Accessed 10 July 2018.

Pollock, Griselda. “Trouble in the archives: from the 1970s to the 1990s the canon of art history has been challenged on all fronts by new feminist analysis. Griselda Pollock looks at how the boat has been rocked.” Women’s Art Magazine, Sept.-Oct. 1993, p. 10+.

Ruddick, Sara. Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. Beacon Press, 1989, pp. 29. 40

Springer, Anna-Sophie. “Melancholies of the Paginated Mind: The Library as Curatorial Space.” Fantasies of the Library, Edited by Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin, The MIT Press, 2016, pp. 27, 37.

[1] The project can be accessed at

[2] There are a multitude of existing projects that promote, support, and connect artists who are parents regardless of the topical focus of their work including: A.M.M.A.A.- the Archive for Mapping Mother Artists in Asia, Procreate Project, The Mother Load, The Center for Parenting Artists, Spilt Milk Gallery, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, and Cultural ReProducers.

[3] The Great Mother curated by Massimiliano Gioni at the Palazzo Reale in 2015 focused on the iconography of motherhood through the work of over 100 artists who were and were not parents. The exhibit therefore exemplified the contrast between “mother” as an object alongside “mother” in the position of conscious subject producing a work of art based on their own lived experience.

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