February 21, 2018
Arts & Entertainment
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  • Carole Epp of Canada is fascinated by the theme of guilt in both Catholicism and motherhood.
    Photo Provided
    Carole Epp of Canada is fascinated by the theme of guilt in both Catholicism and motherhood.
  • Summer Zickefoose of Ohio wants people with creative careers to experience the exhibit.
    Photo Provided
    Summer Zickefoose of Ohio wants people with creative careers to experience the exhibit.
  • Jessica Gardner of Virginia spearheaded the “Crowns” exhibit by responding to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts call for proposals.
    Photo Provided
    Jessica Gardner of Virginia spearheaded the “Crowns” exhibit by responding to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts call for proposals.

Motherhood: The Push And Pull On Display

Leslie Dolsak
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February 6, 2018

“Crowns,” an art exhibit celebrating motherhood with eight ceramic artists displaying their masterpieces, will be at Anne Arundel Community College’s Cade Gallery until February 22. This is the first of eight stops across America.

“We received a bunch of interesting proposals from near and far,” explained Theodore Johnson, Cade Gallery director. “We chose [the] exhibit based on the high quality of the work and the thoughtful theme.”

All exhibitors are both mothers and professional artists. Kate Fisher is a busy mom to a 5-year-old and 3-year-old, a studio art technician at St. Olaf College and an artist with an active studio. Ever since she graduated, she’s always had an art job.

Fisher hopes the show gets the dialogue going about motherhood and making, noting ceramics has historically been a male-dominant field. “I know I’m not a good mom if I don’t carve out time for my studio,” she explained. “I learned a lot about work ethic from my mother. I want to be a role model to my kids as well.”

One of her works on display is a modern series of different colored breast shields for pumping. “Women look at that piece and think ounces, men look at it and think funnels,” Fisher said.

Making time for her craft is something fellow exhibitor Carole Epp of Saskatoon, Canada, has done well. “If you ask my husband, he says I’m a workaholic,” explained Epp, the mother of a 10-year-old and 6-year-old. “I’ve been at home with the kids full time, but I’ve always had the studio full time and a blog. Last year, I published a cookbook. I have done more work since I’ve had kids than when I didn’t. I do a lot with 20 minutes now.”

Raised Catholic but no longer practicing, Epp has focused on motherhood with her work in the last decade, and she has often incorporated the Virgin Mary. Epp is fascinated by the theme of guilt in both Catholicism and motherhood.

“There’s a lot of social judgement, postpartum depression and guilt,” Epp added. “Most people don’t talk about it. Society tells you this is the best thing that’s going to happen to you, just like with marriage. It’s supposed to be such a fairytale. If you feel like you’ve lost your career, everyone makes you feel like you’re being selfish.”

Naysayers have motivated Epp. She recalls many people telling her once she had children, she’d need to slow down or take a break. She has done just the opposite, pushing herself when the kids were little, working around them and working after they went to bed, until 1:00am. “I just want to open people’s eyes. Not that we can have it all, but if you really, really want it, you can fight for it,” Epp explained.

Another exhibitor, Summer Zickefoose of Canfield, Ohio, is a mother of two children, 5 and 2 years old, and an art history and studio art teacher at Westminster College. She wants people with creative careers to experience the exhibit. “I hope the exhibit allows others to see they can make the choice to have both. In grad school, I remember looking at my female professors and only one was a parent,” Zickefoose said.

The ringleader of it all is Jessica Gardner of Manassas, Virginia. She has a 2-year-old and 4-year-old and teaches ceramics at Northern Virginia Community College. Gardner spearheaded the “Crowns” by responding to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts call for proposals. “We want the next generation to know while it’s challenging, it can be done, and motherhood can actually richly inform your work,” Gardner said.

Her installation “Gush” is made from press molding Madonna figurines onto small bobbins. “I like the push-pull between domesticity and being trapped on that pedestal. Gushing emotions, gushing blood, there’s lots of interconnection,” Gardner explained.


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