Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Parent and Art at A.I.R.

If you were to ask me where I heard or read about Jennifer Wroblewski's call for art created immediately following a pregnancy or the birth of a child, I couldn't tell you. Perhaps it was on Twitter, possibly I clicked on a tinyurl or otherwise shortened web address that linked to a Website. You know how that goes. At any rate, I arrived at a place on the Internet where entrees could be uploaded. Easy does it. At least that's how it seemed at first. I had some material that answered to the call, I could upload that no problem. Instead of entering merely my favorite, a pen and ink collage, called "Starlight" (which was used for the cover of my book Creative Acts of Healing), I scanned pages from my Analytical Journal 1997.

In the required essay I mentioned a pen and ink series, "In the Eyes of the Gods we are Ants" drawn on the handmade paper I created, tearing up art-business correspondence that no longer mattered to me, after the delivery of our beautiful daughter Ariane Eira.

I was sure the curator would receive more entries that spoke of grief related to motherhood, but it was the first time that I encountered a call for art-work that spoke to me as a bereft mother. Perhaps that was the reason that I spaced out during the upload of the images —I didn't enter half of the work I had described.

Whether my work would make the cut or not, I was content I responded to the call, which allowed me to reconnect with the how and why et cetera.

Next thing I knew I received the message that my work had been selected for inclusion in the Mother/mother-* exhibition at the A.I.R. Gallery. To my great surprise Jennifer Wroblewski had picked not my number one choice, but one of the images from my journal.
Why? I wondered. Reading later on what the curator wrote about my drawing reinforced what I have known all along, but rarely apply to my own work, that each and every viewer adds significance to a piece. When your work remains hidden for view, when you keep your drawings in a portfolio that you never share with others, when you keep your writing as files inside folders on your computer, you not only deprive the world of your work, you deprive yourself of the responses of others. Responses that at times can bring tears to your eyes.

Jennifer Wroblewski: "Judith van Praag's 'Bird Armor' drawing, a breathtaking testament to the inherent strenght of maternity and the anguish of losing a child."

This said, written and read, I had to look up the page before the one with the Bird Armor drawing to understand where I was coming from twelve years ago. Earlier I showed the notebook at an Open Studio event, and I had taped pages together to ensure that visitors wouldn't start leaving through the book. For the first time I saw what had triggered the making of Bird Armor, it was HURT.

"When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: There will be earth to stand on, or you will be given wings to fly," by Anonymous.

Mother/mother-* Curated by Jennifer Wroblewski,
On view at A.I.R. Gallery until January 3, 2010
111 Front Street #228, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Gallery hours Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Phone 212 255 6651