Photos from the Opening Reception
Artist Highlight: Heather Rische
I'm a Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed Midwife who started midwifery training after having my first child 25 years ago. Midwifery has allowed me to support people through breastfeeding struggles and successes (including knowing when to try a different method of feeding). I have seen the empowerment and the healing power in the process of feeding and sustaining our children. When I had my first child, I had just returned from living in Guatemala and doing human rights work and activism there. I saw how comfortably breastfeeding was woven into Guatemalan culture, and comfortably followed that lead. I took my baby with me during protests, sit-ins and nurse-ins. I modeled open breastfeeding as a political statement wherever I went. Ironically, I was asked by an Art Institute of Chicago museum guard to stop breastfeeding in an exhibit and to feed my baby in a bathroom. I was shocked that this place, where, incidentally, I had been an art student a few years prior, would support such policies. After all, some of the most successful students were those that did "over-the-top" pieces that made headlines, including those featuring the natural human body, or its functions! I refused to go to the bathroom when the guard asked me to, and engaged 2 guards in a conversation about how bottle-fed babies were fed within the exhibit, and I would not leave. They backed down. This wasn't the first or last time I stood my ground for normalizing feeding babies from our bodies. This story, however, serves to encompass all of the ways that a breastfeeding art show was exactly my kind of thing! Art, breasts, visibility, normalization. As a retired breastfeeder, I also relished the opportunity to normalize the human body in all of its phases and stages.
Photos of the Artists
Artist Highlight: Margaret Bernstein
Breastfeeding affects, for the better, lives of all human beings. As life would have it, I grew up in a family where this was so. I recall my mother nursing her twin infants joyfully, even though she sometimes fell asleep, I was seven-years-old. I am sure, too, when I was just four, I must have seen her nurse my first brother. My painting of a woman sitting cross-legged out-of-doors reflects the peace that I remember experiencing when nursing my four children. So many thoughts are possible during those many hours, and hurry is not an option. The thought, of course, is being a part of nature itself, nurturing a human being from one's own body. The thought is also for those lactating women throughout history who sustained so many; today, I am sure, nursing moms must think these thoughts, and also, of those, including themselves, perhaps, who generously share extra human milk for infants who desperately need it. Such a privilege.
Artist Highlight: Coy Lowther
This piece depicts a place and moment that I can find when I close my eyes and recall my happiest experience with nourishing and bonding with my child. In reality, my eyes are open and I'm not comfortable feeding my child in public, breast or bottle, for fear of judgement. My hope is that this piece can open eyes to the beauty and strength that come from nurturing your child and hopefully open minds and hearts to parents tasked with an impossible job who need as much support as possible.