How can caring for others bring healing in the midst of pain? In this tender and heartfelt interview, I interviewed three amazing artists in the CARE exhibition I curated through the Dear Artists program run by Benz Amataya. As we discuss how we process our care for others, we examine our reasons for making art and why art is indeed therapy – no matter how conceptual or intuitive. Michela Martello, Alice Stone-Collins, and Brianna Hernández each utilize different expressions and media, but identify deeply with each other in how caring for others brings forth a unique perspective in art-making.
In my curatorial statement (see full statement here) for this exhibition, I say:
“Parenting, Caregiving and being in relationship with others can give us so much love and joy, filling our cup in many ways. However most of us also experience heightened stress and anxiety due to caregiving… Caring for ourselves and caring about social issues that are important to us can also be a source of anxiety… How do we cope with seeing so much suffering in the world?”
Each woman in this interview has such a unique upbringing and art journey. As Michela discusses her early childhood ideas of being a “paintress” when she was growing up in a very machismo Italian culture, Alice recalls how she grew up in an extremely remote woodsy area as an only child and had to make her own fun! Brianna reveals that art was always a part of her life so much through dance, music, visual art, cooking, and writing, that it wasn’t until graduate school that she really had to define why she decided to pursue art.
As we delve more into the interview, we discuss the hard subjects of how caring for others shapes not only their artwork, but also their personhood. Michela talks about working with veterans, those who are incarcerated, and those with disabilities, and how caring for others with no expectation of care in return can be so healing and freeing. As she combines many types of symbology in her own artwork, it helps her make sense of different mindsets and cultures. Brianna discusses the end-of-life care that she provides to others, and how this heart-wrenching deep dive often leads to a cathartic art-making process in which graves turn to moss and flowers, and performative dances become mirrors to the soul. Alice reflects on her move to suburbia, and, while she won’t be baking any cookies for the bus driver any time soon, she does use her suburban surroundings to help her process her husband’s mental disorders – a candy-coated world filled with ironic humor, but also absurdity and a subtle darkness.
In the end we agree that no matter the approach to art-making, art IS therapy. Life is filled with sadness then joy, heartache then healing, loss then new life. Caring for others in its various forms can be draining and sometimes even feel hopeless – but art is always there to make sense of it all.
Biggest art crush: Giotto, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo
Dream trip: Japan
Inspiring film or book: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Favorite meal: spaghetti
Shoutout: Dawn Delikat at Pen + Brush, and husband
Biggest art crush: Vivian Maier, Alice Neelm Kara Walker
Dream trip: Ireland or Alaska
Inspiring film or book: Hold Still by Sally Mann
Favorite meal: any meal she doesn’t have to cook
Shoutout: her mother
Biggest art crush: Candy Chang, James Reid
Dream trip: Japan
Inspiring film or book: anything directed by Guillermo del Toro
Favorite meal: sweet potato fries
Shoutout: mother, and friend Gracelyn Bateman
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn
Thanks so much to our sponsor COZI for helping us bring you this episode! Cozi is a surprisingly simple family calendar that can help busy families stay organized and well connected!
she wore her vibe like an invisible crown, 2021, 140 x 95, ink, vellum paper on card board