Selected artist from the group exhibition The Class of 2020
My work currently examines my role as both an artist and mother. Learning to intertwine the two roles rather than separate them, I chose to focus on the domestic space and the repetitive invisible labor taking place within that space. In a series of Vandyke prints titled Domestic Bubble I began embedding the history of the women in my family into the work. By creating Pinhole Cameras out of my grandmother’s flour boxes and encapsulating the handmade processes entirely within my home, I began uncovering the extent of my invisible labor. I chose to turn the camera on my own kitchen using an eight-hour exposure time, which resulted in phantom traces of the activity taking place within that space. This gesture is meant to index my invisible labor by highlighting the static nature of the kitchen in contrast with the insubstantial wisps of movement that signal human presence within the work. In further contrast with the images depictions (or lack thereof) of the human body, I documented the experiences in my own hand to insist on making myself visible while acknowledging the reality of invisibility. By making myself present through this reference in the work, I am able to depict my experience of what it means to be visible as a mother and an artist today.
Project Statement, Cont.
In an additional series I focus on reclaiming the iconic image of the nursing mother through a photographic series of 35 continuous frames documenting the last time I nursed my infant titled Jamie’s Last Breast. In the images my child is clothed while I am disheveled and openly processing the intense loss that this moment signifies. The images highlight the contrasting experiences of the mother and child. The unfiltered documentation of this process is meant to be a rebuttal and a resistance to the traditional and often religious representation of the relationship between the mother and child in which the emotional experience of the mother is negated.
Michelle Peterson is a visual artist, receiving her BFA from New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2011, and her MFA from the Institute of Art and Design at New England College in 2020. She works in multiple mediums, including painting, photography, and fiber art. She is a mother of two and resides in southern New Hampshire.
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