CityArts Profile: Artist Moms / by Natasha Marin

Excerpts from the text below appear in CityArts Magazine

Did you develop a creative practice before or after motherhood?

Mothering itself is certainly a creative act and a timeless human art form that requires one to pay close attention to every gesture, tone, and emotional transaction. In 35 years, I have done my fair share of creating-- having already manifested books, performances, and community art experiences all over the world, including original video, sound, and even ceramic work-- butby far the most impressive intentions I have given shape to in the physical world are my own children-- Roman (daughter, 10 yrs old) and Sagan (son, 3 yrs old). 

Yes, a man can make a masterpiece, but a woman already is one. That's what I discovered about being creative while becoming a mother. And I agree with your suggestion that there are two great eras in any mother's life-- the Before Time and the Forever After Time.

For me, there was no beginning or end to the creative practice-aspect of my life, but certainly after becoming a mother in 2004 and again in 2011, my practice was honed and re-focused out of necessity.

If motherhood came after art, what did that decision look like for you? Factors of time and economics involved in raising a child are daunting.

In my case, the Before Time and Forever After Time are contiguous eras. If there was a decision I made, it was the decision to move against the tidal pull of Society's Expectations. Nope, my creative impulses didn't shrivel up and die when I became a mother-- I'm still becoming a mother (it doesn't happen instantly you know!) and I feel more like I'm really blossoming now. There is something about bringing a person into the world -- the enormity of that potential and significance -- that really connects you with your own personal power. Ironically, children immediately do their best to chip away at that feeling.

What are the myths vs reality of being an artist who also raises a family?

I just spoke with my only surviving grandmother for Mother's Day, and listened carefully as my older sister tried to delicately explain why I was not in fact with my children that day, but "escaping" to play with my sister in Vancouver. My grandmother jumped to the conclusion that maybe something was awry-- was I leaving my husband? Where were the kids? Who was looking after them? We reassured her that all was well, but the idea of scheduling in some "me time" hadn't even occurred to my grandmother, who gave birth to ten children of whom my mother was her first. The circumstances of my Granny's life as a mother kept "me time" from being a real possibility. This harsh reality motivates me to refine my expectations of myself as a mother and inspires me to make more time for what I need to be happy and productive.

I heard my sister explain to my Granny (who has Alzheimer's) that I worked a full-time job at a tech company, managed an international art project called Miko Kuro's Midnight Tea, invested significant amounts of love, time, and energy in community engagement projects like the Red Lineage Project, and SPoCS (Seattle People of Color Salon) in addition to my role as mother of two. This month, my full-length poetry debut, MILK (Minor Arcana Press), was released and yes, people DO ask mehow in the hell I do all this and where in my house are the minions who do my bidding ... but the truth is, I come from a long line of women who don't make excuses because they can't even imagine life any other way.

Mothers are people too. And like many other people, they can be abbreviated by labels like "artist" and "mother" alike. I think it's very important for little girls (early on) to know that they should not be expected to have children (as though it is a foregone conclusion). Society has a bad habit of playing ownership and oppression games with women's bodies. There are many ways to be in this world. Albeit a largely all-consuming, powerful, and transcendent experience, motherhood is one lasting way we can create beauty with a lasting impact.