Images of Motherhood in Textiles and Fiber Art
Figurative work often explores the narrative of the personal, the relationships that make or break our lives and our world order. Motherhood, as a theme, tends to luck out on the spectrum of emotions. Equated with the generous and tender roles of guardians, protectors, teachers, they warm the heart. Those of us who are mothers or who have them, know that these relationships are much more complex. I suspect that artists who explore these moments of suspended time, of that embrace, kiss or look, are probing those layers of meaning with each stitch, cut and tuck. By the time they are finished, some kind of resolution, acceptance and honoring has happened.
Society demands purity from motherhood: The mother who does not serve as a guardian to her children is a broken vessel. Something must be wrong with her genes! Nature has a powerful, inbuilt drive that should make all mothers spread their wings around their little ones. Fortunately, most of us do find that balance and rhythm where mother and child is a safe space. Parenting, for both mothers and fathers, involves years of tedious, thankless tasks, hard work, financial commitments, hope and patience. So, we have a couple of days a year where we give recognition to the mothers around us, those women who shape our social fabric.
The textiles shown in this post are typical works for each of the artists. All of them capture a moment in time, a frozen action that tells a story. The characters do not need names or a long explanation about what is going on. We see it and identify immediately with the emotion. Make sure to click on the images to visit their profiles on TAFA. There, you will find their stories and their links.
We have an aging population in the United States as the baby boomers approach their 60’s and 70’s. This is also true in our textile and fiber art community. Many of the leaders who paved the way for our contemporary understanding and use of textiles in the art world are retiring and even dying. Motherhood takes on a new significance as the adults who were once babies now become the protectors and guardians of their mothers and fathers.
All of the traditional textile and needlework techniques that were once focused on the functional have been used to portray great emotion and powerful bonds. I find that textiles move me the most, more than any other medium, when used figuratively. Perhaps the softness, the ability to wrap and bend, fold, wear and wash these threads…. they just seem personal and intimate. I love all of the art forms, but images of motherhood in textiles seem to be the most excellent fit.
Animals as Mothers
We want and get the same nurturing and protective spirit from our non-human animals. I found one of my dogs years ago, torn up and pregnant. She had been used as bait in dog fighting and has issues with other dogs. She had seven puppies in my Chicago apartment and it was amazing to watch her rear them. Gentle and sweet… I asked the vet how a dog who had been so hurt could be so good to her babies. He answered that she had learned how to be nurturing from her mother. It gave me great comfort to think that this poor dog had started out with love and was probably able to come back to it because that state of existence was still in her core.
Mother’s Day is coming up and we thank all of you mothers for your hard work, for your tenderness, kindness, and the investment you have made in your children! We hope that you will spoiled and pampered on your day!
Still shopping for a gift?
You can support our TAFA members and buy something wonderful that is handmade with love! Most likely, the maker is also a mother! Where you can find great gifts:
Our sister site, ArtizanMade (check out the Features and Shops on Etsy)
Happy Mother’s Day!
About Rachel Biel
We love hearing from our community!