Sometimes the very goal we are trying to achieve is also the very thing that keeps us from achieving that goal – enter the Artist/Mother life! In this episode I talked with Lee Nowell-Wilson (a return guest and dear friend) about maternal ambivalence, creating boundaries, and our recent collaboration during the Elsewhere Studios residency. Lee Nowell-Wilson (b. Easton, MD 1989) is an American figurative artist who builds autobiographical drawings that investigate the emotional and ambivalent undertones within birth, domestic labor and human relationship. Nowell-Wilson earned her BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011. Her work has exhibited nationally and internationally, most notably New York City and Scotland. In 2019, she founded MILKED, a new arts publication featuring visual art, photography and the written word by female artists investigating the maternal figure and form. Because her work is so closely entwined with motherhood, I knew she would be the perfect person with whom to collaborate.
Lee describes our process so wonderfully in her editor’s note for the accompanying issue of PINT (which is her bi-monthly smaller publication stemming from MILKED):
“We initially got waitlisted after applying to Elsewhere Studios Residency program, and then the pandemic hit. In an accompanying Artist/Mother podcast episode to this issue of PINT, we share the process of these past two years, how this project changed and shifted from that initial coffee hour, through the pandemic and towards our final production. I became pregnant and gave birth to our third baby over that time period. Kaylan and I both moved houses. We kept daily journals, we texted, we DM’d each other and Polo’d.
It became easy to see just how layered the experience is behind motherhood and the material we were collecting. We recognized how “Maternal Ambivalence” is a large topic, existing on a sensitive spectrum that is experienced by many on nuanced levels. We recognized that the tension is real, sometimes debilitating (which holds no shame! Please seek professional help if you feel you’re past your limit). We sought to highlight blurred experiences of the mother and the unseen power dynamics that can arise from the conflict of needs that are constantly shifting between mother and child. For me, the final paintings and drawings that have formed feel percolated — gradually filtered through months and months of personal, societal and political uprooting & transformation.”
What a wonderful time over the past several months collaborating on this project with Lee! We both learned so much about each other – including learning how to let the project ebb and flow naturally without pushing it forward before it was ready. We also learned to celebrate every accomplishment instead of feeling guilt over missed deadlines. We hope that you will listen to this episode with an open heart, and maybe even be on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate with other artists you admire.
View and download the episode of PINT created just for this project HERE!