When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Ever since I can remember I have loved creating things, from learning to sew with my grandmother to drawing murals with crayons under the kitchen table as a young child. It was in 7th grade when I realized that I wanted art to be a part of what I do every day - I had an amazing middle school art teacher who helped me come to that decision.
When did you become a mother?
11:34 am December, 31 2010, Oliver was born.
Although, I’ve been called motherly most of my life – I think it is in my nature.
What are your challenges as a mother? This is a difficult question for me.
In some ways I feel like my challenges are few, but in other ways many. I find it hard to balance my time between being a mother, an artist, and also a teacher. In many ways these lives flow back and forth and in other ways they are all very separate. I feel much better if I fit some yoga into my day.
What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?
I want to keep my artist self alive in order to be a better mother.
Do you have a studio?
Where is it?
Yes! I share a space with Daniel Del Real and Christina Hollering. We are Two-Thirds Studio - #205 – at the Murphy Arts Building in Fountain Square.
When do you spend time making art?
Photography has allowed me to create art all of the time, but when I have a project I really need to accomplish then I use the weekends and nap time to work.
What is your favorite medium?
Since I became a mother I have used cell phone photography as a way to document my everyday life.I have been playing with a material called Inkodye, which is a light sensitive dye that you can paint on to fabric, paper, or wood and expose in the sun with digital negatives. This medium is so fun and yields fast results. Winter has slowed me down a bit, but every time the sun is shining I want to make a print! I am currently planning a project that uses Polaroid instant film and 120 film with a Holga.
How many children do you have?
One pretty awesome little boy!
Have you ever considered giving up being an artist in order to be a mother?
This is a string of text messages between my husband and me from December 30, 2013 (while I was in the middle of preparing my current solo exhibition – From Indy to India).
Me: Ha! Well…..I’m just not feeling it. I feel like I am done being an artist.
Noah: Why?! :(
Noah: I don’t think it’s a choice.
Me: Too hard with a family.
Noah: No! You can do it!
What is your advice for a new artist mom?
Try to stay connected in some way to the old you, even though a new you was born with this child.
Do you have support from family and friends while making art?
Yes, I recently took a trip to India to immerse myself in the practice of making art again. I was overwhelmed by the support of my friends and family who not only believed I could do it,but helped me understand that it was okay to be away from my son in order to enrich this part of myself.
Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?
Yes. Most people, unless they don’t know me, know that I am a mother. Just the average person walking into my studio would probably see me as an artist first – but then again see me as a mother when I am chasing around my 3 year old.
Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?
I think it depends. I feel to the average person being an artist (mother or not) is a hobby, unless that is your main source of income. I saw the most amazing exhibition of Annie Leibovitz life work as a photographer. The images that have most stuck with me from that show were those of her late partner Susan Sontag and her children. She is an iconic female photographer and it is those works that are less in the spotlight.
What do you say when someone asks you “what does your husband do for a living?”?
He is a Technology Librarian. I’ve had people ask me is he is also an artist – and to that I say, “no, but he is a really creative person.” This question doesn’t bother me. I do what I do, and he does what he does.
What is story?
I love to see, experience, and interact with the world around me. I am a lover of people. I want to know them. These things have not changed as I have transitioned into being a mother artist. Growing up I always surrounded myself with creative people, and I think that is what I still do today. The focus of our gatherings may be different, but it has always been something that has fueled my own creativity. I didn’t know that I was a teacher, until I became one. It is in me, just like the motherly nature. I want to share what I know with others. Giving back to them what I been given in companionship.
Sometimes there are days when I long to be with those people, but I know that my first responsibility is taking care of my child. I know that each day brings a new person in him, on that I can study like so many before. Daily chores and responsibilities get in the way of this reflection at times, but I know that a heap of dishes will eventually be cleaned. There will be more. I don’t want to miss those moments when all my son wants me to do is sit down and make a bird out of play-doh for him. This is still art, art that is unseen. The art of connecting.
What advice can you give to other artist moms about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?
Know that- some artist moms do give up making art and often times this creates a path of resentment and heartache.The art of forgiving. Forgive yourself of the stress of balancing both lives. Sometimes you will be able to create art in the way that you used to, and sometimes it will have a new face. Whatever it looks like, embrace it. Let it be what it is, but don’t let it go.
Lauren Ditchley lives in Beech Grove, Indiana with her husband and son.
To find out more about her work check out the following websites:
(Special thanks to Lauren for submitting two photos from her art show at the Murphy)