Event Tara McDowell: The Mother Artist

Tara McDowell: The Mother Artist


03 June 2023

Join Tara McDowell, Associate Professor and Director of Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Melbourne, for a talk exploring mothering and contemporary art.

If the canon of Western art history until just a few decades ago included few women artists, it counted even fewer mother artists. Long a taboo subject, if not a career-ender, in recent years a profound cultural shift around motherhood has occurred, such that now many contemporary artists—as well as writers, poets, filmmakers, and other creative practitioners—are making mothering both the subject and condition of their work. 

McDowell’s talk will examine the rich, if fraught, terrain of mothering and art, mapping it through artistic practices marked by difference, while nonetheless coaxing an increasingly vital subject into view. McDowell will trace an expanded conception of mothering in art: from the bodily and psychic transformations of becoming a mother—whether through physically giving birth or otherwise—to a collective mothering in solidarity with non-biological mothering and surrogacy, with reproductive and domestic labour, and with queer mothering and Indigenous matriarchies.

This talk will be followed by a close reading of D Harding and Kate Harding’s exhibition Through a lens of visitation, first presented at Monash University Museum of Art in 2021. 


COVID-19 Advice

The IMA strongly encourages mask-wearing onsite in the galleries and for events to keep our community safe. If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or are feeling unwell, please stay home. ⁠



We are committed to making the IMA accessible to people of all abilities, their families, and carers, as well as visitors of different ages and different backgrounds.

The gallery entrance is on the ground floor of the Judith Wright Arts Centre, on Berwick Street. There is wheelchair access and an accessible toilet with baby changing facilities also located on the ground floor, and we welcome guide and support dogs.

To find out more, contact us at ima@ima.org.au, call (07) 3252 5750, or ask our friendly staff on-site. You can also read our access information for visitors here: Word Doc or PDF.

Guest Info
  • Tara McDowell is Associate Professor and Director of Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Naarm/Melbourne. She publishes and lectures frequently, and has held curatorial appointments at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

    Her research interests include contemporary curating, art institutions, feminist and queer spaces of sociability and production, and the various support structures of art, including home, school, exhibition, labour, and friendship. Recent curatorial projects include the experimental symposium Shapeshifters: New Forms of Curatorial Research (2019); John Baldessari: Wall Painting (2017 and 2019); and 124,908, for the 2nd Tbilisi Triennial, Georgia (2015). McDowells recent books include The Artist As (Sternberg Press, 2018) and The Householders: Robert Duncan and Jess (The MIT Press, 2019).

Image: D Harding with Hayley Matthew, 'Untitled (private painting H1)', 2019. Installation view, 'D Harding: Through a lens of visitation', Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

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The IMA acknowledges, thanks, and pays our deepest respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that we work with and the Country we work on.