Wednesday, April 24, 2013

BARREN: life on infertile soil

In honor of NIAW I am posting words or images
I have taken or written about our experience with infertility

A piece I wrote in 2011 for NIAW:
Hubby and I met when we were 21 and 19, I am the cradle robber. It was love at first sight and we have been together since that first date. We waited 10 years before getting married, and another two years before sitting down and talking about how we wanted to become parents. Once we decided, we opened the doors and waited for that positive pregnancy test. In the first year we dealt with my body booby-trapping our plans. The second year we were fighting off the doctors trying to remove my reproductive system. The third year we were trying to simply have a life outside a doctor’s office and then the fourth and fifth years we experienced our miscarriages.
Now we are in our sixth eighth year and we are painfully aware that we are not going to become parents as we had hoped.
In the third year of our infertility journey, I started focusing my artwork on our struggle. As an artist, I turn to my work as a means to process life, and this was one the most complex times in our lives. At first I made the work as a way to comfort myself; I kept the images close and shared them with no one, much like a visual journal. After the first few images were made, something shifted and I started seeing images in my mind all day and in my dreams at night. The comfort became an obsession and a race to capture these feelings and emotions visually.
In October of 2010 I had a public exhibition of my infertility images.
Since the opening, I have received so many kind emails and comments about the show;
so many people poured their hearts out to me and shared stories of their own personal losses.
It has been humbling and amazing.
BARREN: life on infertile soil
personal images of infertility

The inspiration for the show was not only the discovery of my own infertility, but the silence surrounding it. The longstanding stigma of shame has made us a silent tribe of women. Using photography, printmaking, assemblage and mixed media I examine the quiet reflections of a life without children, in a child-centric world and what it means to navigate daily in those constraints.
I have created an exhibit that draws from my experiences and expresses how infertility has touched me emotionally, changed my self-identity, and affected my relationships with the world around me. The images range from quiet and painterly to bold and vivid personal storytelling; many of the works are from my perspective and allow the viewer to enter that same space. The inclusion of four journal entries next to photographs, as well as a wordless lullaby written and performed by my husband which is heard through headphones while sitting in a rocking chair, make a very private experience very public.
The exhibit can be seen HERE

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