Artist Residency in Motherhood: A Manifesto / by Laura Ajayi

The original Artist Residency in Motherhood, developed by Lenka Clayton, contained the following in its manifesto:

I will undergo this self-imposed artist residency in order to fully experience and explore the fragmented focus, nap-length studio time, limited movement and resources and general upheaval that parenthood brings and allow it to shape the direction of my work, rather than try to work "despite it."

Having experienced the transition, earth-shattering and entirely banal, into parenting, I am reaching now for a way to dig myself out of the overwhelm and find a place where the mother and the family can be together, where the mother can exist and make work and feel like a person in the world. I will let go of the gloriously impossible ideal of endless, uninterrupted studio time when I am well-rested and inspired. Life happens in the sticky-jam fingers, the pee all over the floor, the overflowing laundry and the eyeballs swimming and burning from sleeplessness. I will make work where I live and live where I make work. The hours spent breastfeeding, cleaning, folding, ordering, dirtying, crying, snuggling, carrying, playing, reading, rocking, and storytelling will be my source material, my research. My kids will be allowed in the studio (within reason). They will grow up knowing their mother as a person who makes strange and lovely things; this will be their normal. I will read background texts and do sketchbook work and manage files and update my website while my son does his own thing (hopefully: imaginative play; realistically: Netflix) and his sister naps. I will not feel guilty because in a high intensity home with bodies bumping up against each other and long nights and tantrums and teething, we all need a little space. I will ramp up my production in the evenings and invite my husband to work in the studio too, an approximation of date night. I will be tired.  (Will I always be tired?)  I will move toward an integration of my artist-self and my mother-self. I will strive to make sure each is doing her work.

I will propel myself out of isolation. I have been so isolated.  I will look for opportunities to connect with artists and mothers: online, by renewing old relationships, by attending art events, by submitting work widely, by reading and hearing the wisdom collected by these women who raise children and make things at the same time.

The initial six-month residency will be dedicated to research and experimentation. This is my gestation period. At the end of 2016, I will reflect on Phase One of my Artist Residency in Motherhood and prepare for the next Phase.



Lenka Clayton's original Artist Residency in Motherhood

ARIM - the self-directed, open-source residency developed from the original project