Complicated Labors: feminism, maternity and creative practice


Complicated Labors: feminism, maternity and creative practice


Curatorial Statement

"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."

- From


Mary Kelly
Mother Art Collective
Alejandra Herrera Silva
Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Natalie Loveless
Mark Cooley
Beth Hall
Masha Godovannaya
Ellina Kevorkian
Dillon Paul
Lindsey Wolkowicz


February 5 - March 15, 2014



“Complicated Labors: feminism, maternity and creative practice,” Artist Parent Index , accessed May 25, 2024,

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Item: Courtney Kessel Is Part Of This Item