Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mama Metalsmith Talk

In November last year, I did a studio tour for a few Art & Design Jewelry & Metalsmithing students from UW-Stout who were visiting Chicago for the SOFA Design Fair.  I was excited to engage with students and see my colleagues Masako Onodera and Lynn Batchelder since I was far too pregnant to waddle around the SOFA exhibition.  I was excited to introduce them to my new body of work about the experience of being pregnant.

"Areola O Plenty" (brooch)
mild steel, deconstructed brassiere, nylon stockings

"Fountains" (brooch)
mild steel, deconstructed brassiere, nylon stockings

"From B to D in 3 months" (necklace)
mild steel, nylon stockings 

"Swelling" (brooch)
mild steel, nylon stockings

This conversation of being a mom and having an artistic career, and whether or not this is supported by our field is a very interesting, current and relevant topic to me.  I have to be honest, I was very quiet on social media about being pregnant.  I was worried!  I thought as soon as curators, galleries and people with potential job opportunities considered me, if they knew I was pregnant, the decision would be made for me. "Oh, she probably won't be able to do it.  She's pregnant, ya know."  The last thing I want is to not engage with the field any longer.  Whether people knew and continued make me offers, or they didn't know and made me offers, whatever I did worked and I was still receiving invitations and acceptance into shows and opportunities.  I still wonder if I had been more open about it, if I still would have been invited.  This is why I feel the need to start this conversation.  I WANT to be a mom and be a participating artist.  I WANT to be the one who makes the decision about whether I can participate, travel or teach.  I don't want those decisions to be made for me, just because I have family commitments now.

There are SO MANY women that populate the field of Jewelry and Metalsmthing right now, why are we talking about this more?  Many of the fine institutions that nurture our future leaders are run by women.  Yet so many of them (that I have had conversations with) are hesitant to start a family because of the time they are required to put towards their institution, practice and exhibition schedule.  This is, of course, not a problem specific to our field.  Women in the US have to decide at some point if they can have a successful career and a family.  Unfortunately, that time when your career is really starting tends to be right around the same time our fertility might be at its peak.  Why is that?  Why couldn't we have kids into our 60s or 70s like men?

For all you moms out there, moms to be, or ladies considering momhood,  I thought starting the conversation about how I am making the mom/career balance work for me might encourage you to ask questions and tell me how it is working for you.  I don't think this is just one conversation, so I would love to hear from you!  In the mean time,  I would like to start a series about my work, my daughter and my practice.  I think we'll call it Mama Metalsmith Talk.

First off...it's hard!  Negotiating my practice, my husband and my daughter....that life balance, it isn't easy!  I recognize that I am so lucky to have a supportive partner.  That doesn't mean that I don't work my ass off.  Before Hazel came around, I had three jobs.  I worked 30 hours a week for another artist, taught classes at two art centers, then there was my practice (making work for galleries, exhibitions and trade shows).  About 4 weeks before Hazel was born, I stopped making work, stopped going to the studio and just laid low, which was hard because I am a worker!  I enjoy working on several things at once, so this "break" was surprisingly hard for me.  Hazel was born and I was totally sucked into her awesomeness.  However, after six weeks of baby, I had to get back into the studio. For me, I find that I have to carve out that time for the studio, or just "getting to it," never happens.  It was very clear to me that I had to create a schedule to outline my studio time in order to make sure there is always time set aside for me to make my work. For now,  I have stopped working for others and commit my time exclusively to my practice and my family.  What does that look like you ask?  A little something like this...

Hazel in the studio

Monday - Friday
6:30 am - wake up and feed the baby (ugh!  so early!)
7:00 - 8:00 am - exercise (daddy watches the baby)
8:00 - 9:00 - shower/breakfast (daddy goes off to work)
9:00 - 10:00 - get baby ready & get to the studio!!
10:00 - 3:00/4:00 - get 3 or 4 stretches of work time anywhere from 40 mins to 1 hr, separated by baby cuddles, feeding, changing & hanging out.
4:00 - 7:00 - head back home, hang exclusively with kiddo, make some dinner, put kiddo to bed, daddy gets home at 7pm
7:00pm - 10:00pm - head back to studio to get some late night solo work done, or computer time

Saturday & Sunday
7:30/8:30 - wake up with baby
10:00am - 5:00pm - studio time.  Get all the super noisy/messy or complicated work done while daddy hangs with baby at home.

At least this is what it looks like now!  I am very well aware that baby can change at any point and throw the whole schedule off.  That being said, having a schedule gives me something to stick to and ensures that both daddy and I get things done that we need to get done.  The hardest thing?  Motivating myself to leave the house everyday!  It's so easy to just stay home, especially when you live in a snowglobe of a city like Chicago.

Would love to hear your comments!  Especially if you have any secrets about how to make it work!
xoxo - Sarah

1 comment:

Lisette said...

Hi Sarah!
Just now visiting your blog though it's been on my blog roll.
I"m SO happy you are bringing the family/baby issue to light. I'm struggling with this yet I know and want a baby so bad! I'm baby crazy. But I'm worried about money, time and my studio practice. thank you for being so honest and providing your work schedule. I'll probably share more of my own thoughts on this whenever I get pregnant. Good luck and keep writing more about family/work life!