As significant numbers of women have entered the work force since the 1970s in response to shifting economic needs and the influence of the Feminist movement, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s long honored notion of the “Good Mother” and the demand that she blithely sacrifice all for the good of her children and family has been challenged and reevaluated. But as women have taken a place within the domestic AND public realms, conservative groups have predictably lamented the decline of “family values.” Within that cry, the child has often been portrayed as endangered and lost while mothers seeking to redefine their roles and obligations are seen as frantic and on the verge of unraveling. While far from being resolved, such debates are symptomatic of a cultural anxiety over the state of popular ideals of familyhood and a realization that these idealistic, largely unattainable notions of the family should continue to be frankly reconsidered in the 21st century.
Drawing from the curators’ own efforts to balance the demands of motherhood with creative and professional endeavors, Denise Johnson and Rebecca Trawick consider how contemporary artists have explored modern parenthood under the pressures of changing economies and evolving definitions of familyhood. Artists in the exhibition explore the often unacknowledged worry and unease that all parents, traditional or not, must navigate. Through these investigations, cultural anxieties and debates over the definition of family, parenthood and childhood are explored in surprising and interesting ways. Denise Johnson is an Adjunct Instructor in Art History at Chaffey College. Johnson curated Girly Show (2007) which explored third-wave feminism’s strategic use of zines and the pin-up. Rebecca Trawick is the Director/Curator if the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, with selected exhibitions including: Dirty Laundry (2000); Tall Stories (2004), Radiant Space/Private Domains (2006), Mammygraphs: Mark Steven Greenfield (2008), Trick Baby (2008), and others.
Separation Anxiety will feature the work of: Claudia Alvarez, Monica Bock, Erika DeVries, Leslie Dick, Elizabeth Douglas, Rebecca Edwards, Carol Flax, Haley Hasler, Connie Hatch, Ellina Kevorkian, Kate Kretz, M.A.M.A. (Athena Kanaris, Lisa Mann, Lisa Schoyer, Karen Schwenkmeyer), Marcos Rosales, Mark Stockton, Abbey Williams, and Jennifer Wroblewski.