Where are you from?
Where do you live?
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist and a poet, and I’ve always been an artist and a poet.
What are your influences as an artist?
My mom was my first influence. She had an incredible talent for drawing anything, and she was (and is) a perfectionist. This was never something that bothered me, and never something I felt I couldn’t live up to. I loved that everything she did was perfect! She cut her coupons perfectly, she iced a cake perfectly, she painted her nails perfectly! She gave me my appreciation for quality.
What is your favorite medium?
Glass. But I also love wood and Prismacolor pencils.
And poetry! Poetry is an art as well.
Do you have a studio? Where is it?
Yes. My basement.
When did you become a mother?
On February 6th, 1993.
What are your challenges as a mother artist?
Knowing I need to stop making art and start making dinner! It’s frustrating when I need to break my flow.
What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?
The need and the desire are always present to do both. I need to be the best mother so my kids will be fulfilled, and I need to create my best art so that I’ll be fulfilled.
When do you spend time making art?
Now that school has started again, I have the days mostly free to make art. But I admit that my mornings are often lazy, and don’t feel as motivated to work as I do in the afternoon or evening.
How many children do you have? Do you want more?
Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?
No…but being a mother has definitely affected my ability to travel to art fairs during the summer months. I can’t travel because my husband works in New Hampshire all summer (every summer).
Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?
This has been my most dreaded question.
The answer is complex.
Do I have support? Yes.
Do I have encouragement and interest? Not at all.
If there is a darkness in my life, this is it. I know there are people who love my work, and have gone out of their way to express it enthusiastically, but it’s no substitute for the desire to feel approval from those closest to me. Now is probably the time to say that I’m very happily married - and it isn’t my husband’s choice to not like much of my work, but he doesn’t. It’s not a requirement of marriage. With that said, I have felt a certain uninhibited permission to create and write very experimentally…knowing that no one is going to inquire or read or judge what I’m working on or what I’m writing. It’s like I’ve been allowed a secret room in which I can go a little bit crazy. I like it.
Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?
Most of my transactions occur online or at an art festival. My online Etsy store includes my short bio which states that I have children, but during an art fair, motherhood doesn’t usually come up. I do think my buyers take my art seriously, and I suppose that’s what matters most.
Has becoming a mother influenced your art?
I’ve been a mother since I was 19, and I’m 41 now, so it’s hard for me to remember what it’s like to not have children in my life. I can’t say that it has influenced me one way or another.
Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?
I hope so. I think so. I want to believe they are.
What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?
I tell them he’s an artist too: a caricature artist. He is amazing, and I’m happy to brag about his talent! I’m not offended, and I think if someone asks, it’s either because they’re truly interested, or they just need to make conversation.
(And that’s okay!)
What is your story?
I love beauty. Whether it’s nature, art, music, literature, film, faces, human decency, human dignity, human love or longing… I just like to experience it. I like to feel moved to tears by it. My story is that I’m part of it…that I can create it, acknowledge it, be broken and saved by it. On a less dramatic note, here are some random tidbits about me: I’ve been an atheist for four years. My favorite color is green. My favorite poet is Stephen Dunn. My favorite band is The Cure. I prefer chocolate to vanilla. I wrote a novel, but fear rejection, so I don’t pursue publication. I’ve never been to the west coast, and sometimes I daydream about abandoning everything and driving to northern California to visit a place I wrote about in my novel (a place called Patrick’s Point). I’m happiest when I’m hiking in the woods. I’d love to have an afternoon to ask cognitive scientist Steven Pinker a bunch of questions. I hate it that I hate to cook. I have a real and serious aversion to Jazz. I have a real and serious aversion to the telephone. I am grateful every day that I am alive. I think I had the best parents ever. I am a very poor manager of my time. I am severely introverted and solitary, though I don’t believe anyone would assume this after meeting me.
What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?
It’s challenging. It’s frustrating. It’s necessary. It’s rewarding. It’s not a choice….It must be done!
What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?
I’ve been a single mother, and I’ve been a married mother. No matter what your circumstances, you must make time to create your art. Even if it’s just making a journal entry of an idea that you want to bring to fruition in the future - when you’re in a better position financially or geographically. I’m always jotting down ideas for future projects!
What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?
For my visual art: Craftsmaship. It goes back to my mom, and her being my inspiration for perfection. You might not like my designs, or my color choices, but if I put my signature on a piece of art, then it’s going to be done right! For my poetry: familiarity. I try to say what we all feel, but can’t, don’t or won’t say. I hope my poetry is a pinprick in the ho-hum of your day. I hope my poetry punches you in the gut if it doesn’t make you cry.
You weren’t sure
what was happening to you
so you came to me
your small hands
pressed to your eyes
to make them stop watering
the slope of your tender cheeks
because the song your father sang
as he sat at the piano
had a message in it
even you could understand.
Five years is all it took
to teach you about despair
and how it rises out of loss
takes the form of music,
which presses,like your hands,
against that vulnerable hollow
you will spend the rest of your life
trying to fill.
Since you’d be gone
on business that weekend
I decided to clean out our closet
and organize the shelves.
It was in a large plastic bin
with your year books
and old newspaper clippings
yellowed with the sorrow of time.
I’m glad I didn’t find it in our first
or second year
or I might have thrown it out
behind your back
or made you burn it like
the clothes of a leper.
Inside it were faces and bodies
so beautiful and young,
captured in time
and waiting in photographs for you to remember.
I’m sorry, but I took my
time and read their letters—
so sincere I had to wipe
their tears from my own eyes.
I found it easy to smile
at your smile next to their smiles
and I was relieved
that I hadn’t tossed my own secret shoebox
like I’d considered
more than once
because I didn’t want to explain
how much these tokens meant to me
or lie, and tell you how easily
I could throw it away
if only just to prove
our love means more than all of the others.
But the truth is that
we just loved these people differently
and maybe even more—
or so we thought back then
when there was no test,
like this one
to prove otherwise.
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* All photographs were submitted and belong to the artist.
Black & White portrait taken by Deanna Morae