Event Tara McDowell: The Mother Artist

Tara McDowell: The Mother Artist


03 June 2023

If until just a few decades ago the canon of Western art history 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 has occurred, so now many artists—as well as writers, poets, and filmmakers—are making mothering both the subject and condition of their work. 

Tara McDowell examines the rich, fraught terrain of mothering and art. She traces an expanded conception of mothering in art, from the bodily and psychic transformations of becoming a mother (whether physically giving birth or otherwise) to collective mothering (in solidarity with non-biological mothering and surrogacy, and with reproductive and domestic labour, queer mothering, and Indigenous matriarchies). This is followed by a close reading of D and Kate Harding’s 2021 exhibition Through a Lens of Visitation, at Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne. 

Guest Info
  • Tara McDowell is Associate Professor and Director of Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Naarm/Melbourne. She 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. 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). McDowell’s books include The Artist As (Sternberg Press, 2018) and The Householders: Robert Duncan and Jess (MIT Press, 2019).

D Harding with Hayley Matthew 'Untitled (Private Painting H1)' 2019, in 'D Harding: Through a Lens of Visitation', Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2021. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

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