Mother Colored Artist: on being Both And, A Manifesto

Mother Colored Artist: on being Both And,

A Manifesto

So you’re a maker, you create things, in a certain way, under certain circumstances; artist, mother and colored

A trifecta of uncertainty

On the artist residency and motherhood

There is a normalization of exclusionary practices for women parents within the western art canon. Artist residency are key elements that foster artist development providing studio time away from distractions, artistic comradery, professional critique, and a variety of resources, including financial and emotional assistance. As a black artist, educator and single parent, many competitive artist residencies perpetuate discriminatory practices based on race, class, gender and family household status. Not providing childcare is an exclusionary and discriminatory practice affecting the most vulnerable populations of artist; women of color with children. This discriminatory practice should be looked into closely and addressed publically if we are truly interested in having the art world represent society as a whole. The art canon continues to be dominated by white men because of institutional practices like this.

On erasure

As a parent you become someone’s everything: An emotional, social, and physical vessel. When you disappear, and you will, you must trace yourself, under pressure, stress, institutional racism, gender oppression, identity politics trace yourself, within the loudness of your community and over baby tears trace yourself, under constant change, growth or stagnation, trace and Retrace yourself, in your own image, confer with your ancestors. Tracing and naming one-self is an act of self-preservation.

On Inspiration

Say Her Name (call and response)

Betye Saar

Agusta Savage

Lorna Simpson

Deborah Willis

Faith Ringgold

Forget me knots:

Black mothers who design beauty and dared to live fully

On child care

Consider your mother’s story of personal sacrifice when I say this; providing access to child-care or extra support financially or emotionally within education and art institutions should be a right not a privilege. This might have helped your mother fully pursue her dreams and admirations.

On value

You are in the most undervalued, under resourced position of all as a mother of color and art maker. Some people will consider your existence expendable, and they will make assumptions about your worth and work. Tell them as often as needed… This shit aint free, your artwork, the things you make, the ways you make, your culture, the lifestyle you’ve constructed is not free or for sale. This shit aint free because your ancestors have already paid a hefty price. Your time, energy, money, ideas, love and artwork are priceless.

On constructs:

Design for yourself. Be more Agusta Savage like Carve out room for your ideas to run wild, like your babies. Some areas to consider: the “Art canon”, your community, sister circles, kiddie circles, quilting circles, the kitchen table, book clubs, bathtub, music festivals, your child’s school, the bedroom, the closet.

On dream chasing

Follow your dreams in the day, when the sun is up.

Wisdom wrote and created during her time as one of four 2017 Marwen Teaching Artist Residents. A program designed to:

To support the art practices of committed Marwen Teaching Artists.

To provide studio space & equipment use to Marwen TA’s outside program hours.

To expose the Marwen community to the studio practices and work of our Teaching Artists.

To provide exhibition opportunities for Marwen Teaching Artists.

About Wisdom Baty
My artwork positions black womanhood at the forefront of society. As a parent, educator and organizer, I am interested in reimagining physical space, historical accuracy and the often times complex relationship these forms have with the black body in general and motherhood specifically. My practice largely encompasses 2 Dimensional artworks that speak on America’s culture of power. Using personal narratives in my artwork allows me to confront internal and external ideas around memory, authority, and authorship.

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