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UC Santa Cruz Sesnon Gallery, IHR Complicated Labors Research Cluster and Porter College present:

Complicated Labors: feminism, maternity and creative practice

Nearly forty years after Mary Kelly’s germinal 1976 exhibition of Post-Partum Document, the work of women artists who explicitly engage with images, processes, and experiences of maternity remains marginalized in the art world.  Despite a notable resurgence of attention to the maternal in 21st Century art theory and practice, such work is, more often than not, read inside a discourse of indulgence, sentimentality, and identity rather than as representative of larger concerns with ecological systems, ethics, care, or labor.  Complicated Labors investigates this problem, bringing together historical and contemporary work addressing maternal labor to ask questions about the status of feminism — and feminist art — today.  

The exhibition will be accompanied by a one-day symposium on February 5, 2014 at UCSC, with a keynote address by foundational feminist artist Mary Kelly.  The symposium will create a space for critical interdisciplinary dialogue around issues of maternity, feminism, art-making, and writing, explicitly putting the 1970s in conversation with the current moment and putting writers in conversation with visual artists.

Complicated Labors builds on recent group exhibitions on the topic, including Myrel Chernick’s and Jennie Klein’s 2004 and 2006 Maternal Metaphors and Maternal Metaphors II and Natalie Loveless’s 2010 New Maternalisms.  This exhibition addresses recent books such as Andrea Liss’s 2009 Feminist Art and the Maternal, new journals such as Studies in the Maternal, and new collectives such as Broodwork.

February 5 - March 15, 2014, Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery
Curated by Irene Lusztig

Artists: Lenka Clayton, Mary Kelly, Natalie Loveless, Irene Lusztig, Jill Miller, Mother Art Collective, Alejandra Herrera Silva, Mierle Laderman Ukeles

Also featuring a screening series of work by: Myrel Chernick, Mark Cooley, Celia Cooley, and Beth Hall, Masha Godovannaya, Courtney Kessel, Ellina Kevorkian, Dillon Paul and Lindsey Wolkowicz

Opening Reception: February 5, 5:00-7:00pm

February 5, 2014, 10 AM - 5 PM, Digital Arts Research Center, Room 306 (DARC Light Lab)
Organized by Micah Perks and Irene Lusztig
Keynote talk by Mary Kelly

Symposium participants: Amra Brooks, Jennifer González, Mary Kelly, Natalie Loveless, Irene Lusztig, Jill Miller, Megan Moodie, Kate Moses, Micah Perks, Carmen Giménez Smith, Michelle Tea and Mother Art Collective (members Deborah Krall, Suzanne Siegel, Laura Silagi).

All events are free and open to the public.