this past weekend, i was volunteering and attending one of my daughters' ballet recitals. i love ballet because i grew up dancing and have always loved the experience of being on stage. as a child, i loved the anticipation of being backstage and the camaraderie shared with the other performers. and i loved the magical feeling of dancing on stage. i will always remember the freedom and pure joy that i felt in the movements. but as i got older, i became more and more aware of my shortcomings and focused more on what was wrong with my body and what i couldn't do with my body, rather than dancing for the sheer pleasure of dancing.
i have been thinking long about our bodies as mothers. how we see our bodies now after having given birth. how others see our bodies. and the ideal we strive towards. we women are hard on ourselves, and we are hard on our bodies.
so for this week, i wanted to focus instead on recapturing that feeling i had as a child, when i danced because i loved to and because it gave me great pleasure. when i didn't think about how my legs were all wrong for a ballerina or if i was good enough.
13, No. 10 (We Are Dancing) - this was inspired by Matisse's painting, Dance. when i think of dancing with abandon and freedom, i think of Matisse's painting of five red figures dancing in a circle. so here is my interpretation of the dancers, imagining what we might look like if we threw aside all our inhibitions and woes about our bodies. if we felt the music's call and began to move with it. as mothers, we have to hold ourselves together so much, but what if we let our hair down for once? i hope we can accept our bodies as readily as i believe these figures here are doing.
13, No. 11 (In the Garden) - what if people's stares didn't feel harsh? what if we were so accepting of our own bodies that we didn't mind or cared what people thought? i think of the Garden of Eden, of when Adam and Eve were not aware of their nakedness and were not ashamed. it would be lovely to recapture some of that in our lives. let us take care of our bodies by eating well and exercising to make it strong, but let us also accept all the ways our bodies have changed to give birth to new lives. i see the figures here in gentle repose, content and being fed.
when i was a student at art school, i remember distinctly preferring models who looked different. models who had bodies that were perfectly proportioned were actually less interesting to me. it was the models who stood out because of something different about their bodies that stayed with me and sparked my imagination. there was a story behind their bodies. and there is definitely a story behind the bodies of mothers. there is a story behind the stretch marks. there is a story behind the stomach that will never pull back to it's former flat state. there is a story behind the shrunken breasts. there is a story behind the hair that has suddenly changed texture or color. let us be kind to these bodies that have been through something so incredible.
these are now available on Etsy.
this is technically the last full week of May, but i will be releasing two more pieces next tuesday, the last day of May. hope you will join me then!