66: Becoming a better, more versatile artist through motherhood’s lessons in compromise and reorientation with Madeline Donahue

Madeline Donahue is an artist/mother from Houston, TX, based in New York with an extensive exhibition, residency, and illustration history. On today’s episode, Madeline joins me to talk about balancing time (and tone) around children, being present, and how to not just plan to make the work, but to make it! 

Madeline comes from a creative family and sought out art lessons at a young age, later attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for her BFA and earning her MFA at CUNY Brooklyn College. Madeline shares the encouraging logic behind her decision to become a career artist: if people with “normal jobs” can fail, too, why not go out on a limb to follow your passion?

As someone who is self-professedly “obsessed” with failure and family, Madeline’s work features scenes that speak to the equally strange and wonderful experience of being a mother. Though many of us hide shame, loss of control, or failure, those feelings are impossible to cover up during motherhood. Madeline finds the humor and honesty in these situations to cultivate a unique intimacy with her audience in light of her work’s autobiographical nature. 

We talk about channeling experiences as an artist/mother into our work and how motherhood’s lessons in compromise and reorientation make us better, more versatile artists. In Madeline’s case, having two small children has taught her to work not only in new ways, but on new scales. She also tells us how in the world she had her first major solo show in New York with a toddler and while pregnant!

You can find Madeline’s work on her website or on IG @madelinedonahue
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

 Birth, 2020, glazed ceramic, 8″X7″X4″ 
Signing my Kayrock edition 5 days after my son was born in November 2019. I made the print with Kayrock just days before he was born. 
Cabaret, 2020, color pencil on paper, 11″X14″
Arch, 2019, oil on cavas, 12″X15″
Twyla drawing while I work in my studio in Bushwick. 
Pregnant with my son, Clement, holding Twyla and with my dog Llewella at my solo show “Attachments” in 9/2019.
Twyla at my solo show “Attachments” at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects 
Double Forward Roll, 2020, glazed ceramic, 9″X7″X3″ 
Madeline and her daughter working in May 2020
Madeline working outdoors, May 2020
Sculpting in quarantine with my son.
Sculpting at home with my newborn son.
Jugglers, 2020, glazed ceramic, 8″X7″X4″

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