I’m delighted to announce that a piece of art I submitted to the Art of Infertility (@ArtofIF) exhibition has been accepted into both its Calabasas exhibition and its permanent collection!
Here is the artwork I submitted along with a 400-word artist statement:
My miscarriage and subsequent infertility diagnosis were two of the most devastating and traumatic experiences of my life. A few days after I learned my baby had died inside me quietly, I started writing and creating art to process the bewildering grief. Six months later, I re-emerged, broken-hearted but determined to try again, only to be beaten down again with an infertility diagnosis. Simply put, my eggs create non-viable embryos. Genetic children aren’t possible.
The more I explored my grief, the further along in my pregnancy I would have been, and the deeper I fell into the world of infertility. I tried to be strong, but it seemed everywhere I went I was ambushed by a pregnant belly, and I’d break down sobbing. Would I ever become a mother? Meanwhile, I was ashamed of the intense envy I felt, ever more distressed that the sight of another woman’s pregnancy could trigger my grief.
And this is how I found myself the reluctant new member of a ghastly club – one often shrouded in shame and secrecy, and whose members often have to put on a happy face.
This drawing of a grieving “almost-mother” uses white space to demarcate where her pregnant belly would have been. Where a baby should be kicking, there is nothing. Her perfectly flat stomach – a feature of beauty by conventional standards – is a painful reminder of all she doesn’t have. Her breasts are heavy with milk, but her arms are achingly empty.She is naked because she is vulnerable. Hair is often associated with female beauty, so her baldness symbolizes her doubting her femininity: How can I be feminine if I can’t reproduce?
Her sorrow is hers alone. There is nothing anyone can do to make the pain go away, so nothing physically supports her in the drawing. The happy face she wears in public – the one that masks her true feelings – lies at her side. Alone, she doesn’t have to pretend to be anything but bereft.
I chose gold pencil as a nod to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. A broken bowl becomes all the more beautiful when its cracks are celebrated instead of hidden away in shame.
I am the woman. My grief and trauma are the gold pencil. And I am taking off my infertility mask. My infertility doesn’t define me, but it is my truth and I am learning to embrace it.
The Art of Infertility is a “…traveling show [which] includes facts and figures on Infertility, portraits, interviews and artwork, to bring awareness and help support those living with infertility. While much of the educational information is the same for each location, the goal of the exhibit is to use local artwork and stories to help build a sense of community and let those with infertility know they are not alone.”
For more information, visit ArtofInfertility.org.
Its Calabasas pop-up exhibit and workshop will be held on Saturday April 25th. If you are in the Los Angeles area, it would be great to meet you! Feel free to come up and introduce yourself — I’ll be the 6′ tall woman with a British accent and redheaded baby ;)