The Mother Artist

  • The Mother Artist
  • The Mother Artist
  • The Mother Artist
  • The Mother Artist
  • The Mother Artist
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Are caregiving and creative labor fundamentally at odds? Is it possible for mothers to attend to both?

Few women artists feature prominently in the history of art, and even fewer who are mothers. How are motherhood and artmaking at play and at odds in the lives of women? What can we learn about ambition, limitation, and creativity from women who persist in doing both?

Forged in the stress of early motherhood, The Mother Artist explores the fraught yet generative ties between caregiving and creative practice. As a young mother working at a museum, essayist Catherine Ricketts began asking questions about the making of motherhood and the making of art. Now, with incantatory prose and an intuitive gaze, she twines intimate meditations on parenthood with studies of the work and lives of painters, writers, dancers, musicians, and other creatives. Ricketts takes readers through the studios of mother artists, placing us in the company of women from the past and the present who persevere in both art and caregiving. We encounter Senga Nengudi's sculptures, which celebrate the pregnant body, and Toni Morrison's powerful writing on childbirth. We behold Joan Didion's meditations on maternal grief and Alice Neel's arresting portraits of mothers and babies. And we observe the ambition of sculptor Ruth Asawa, the activism of printmaker Elizabeth Catlett, and the constancy of writer Madeleine L'Engle. The Mother Artist welcomes us into a community of creatives and includes full-color images of their work.

Part memoir, part biography, and part inquiry into the visual, literary, and performing arts, The Mother Artist contends that a brutal world needs art made by those who have cared for the vulnerable. This book is for mothers who aspire to make art, anyone eager to discover the stories of visionary women, and all who long for a revolution of tenderness.

About the Author:

Catherine Ricketts writes about the arts, grief, joy, and spirituality. She studied writing at the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MFA in nonfiction from Seattle Pacific University. Her essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review Online, The Christian Century, Image, The Millions, Paste, and the Ploughshares blog, among other publications. While writing, she has supported the work of other practicing artists as a live arts presenter, having held jobs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia's FringeArts, and the public radio station WXPN. Ricketts lives with her family near Philadelphia. Find her on Instagram at @bycatherinericketts. 

  • Author Catherine Ricketts
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher Broadleaf Books, April 2024
  • 220 pages 
  • ISBN 9781506488707
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