Creation Date



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graphite on canvas


Dimensions: 5" x 7"

Artist Statement

Inspiration for my artwork has always come from personal experiences and my interpretation of them. Recently, I had a major life change with the birth of my husband’s and my first child, a girl. The Postpartum Timeline is an analysis of my brief experience thus far with the postpartum experience and specifically, the way motherhood is talked about.

I’ve painted several areas of my house or items that relate specifically to having a child: a new diaper pail adorns a corner of a bedroom, a shower stream is diverted to a baby shower-head, and notes are left everywhere with reminders. The romanticism of oil painting lends itself to the romantic notions that many people have about motherhood; there is both a rich and varied history and a notion of the existence of beauty in both. The truth of the matter is, there is no one way to approach motherhood.

I've included canvases with small phrases that I have either thought or said that have questionable credence about myself and my feelings. In society we use words and phrases like “hard work” or “good.” These have little meaning in everyday conversation. In fact, though many people ask about how a new mother is, they tend to have a limited interest in her answer. A mother’s identity is inseparable from her new child’s to the eye of the common observer. In contrast with this, the painted images have some writing on them that relates to my own thoughts, observations and research I’ve done. This artwork has become a reaction to my current state of life.

In researching for this project, I looked up other artist’s work on motherhood. Mary Cassatt is the primary example of painting about motherhood. Others are mostly photographers that document their children. I wanted to avoid both the overly-sentimental and the documentation and focus more on internal and external dialogue. When approaching the timeline, my internal dialogue dominated as I started introducing images.

All people have a mother and many are one, so everyone had a preconceived notion of what motherhood is all about. I have no way to encompass all these preconceptions as well as introduce specific ideas in a single piece, but this work begins to explore an authentic experience of motherhood in painting. This art is my personal response to my newly developed feelings and understandings of my state of being from the perception of my body and newly extended identity to the many tasks necessary for me to complete daily.


© Kathryn Marie Manning, 2014. Photo credit: Karen Lilly.