The Double Life of the Artist Mother

Dear Readers,
Please join us for a lively (and I hope brutally honest)
conversation this Tuesday at the School of Visual Arts Theater.

Taking Custody: The Double Life of the Artist Mother
A Panel Discussion moderated by Sharon Butler of Two Coats of Paint
Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 7pm
SVA Theater

UPDATE: Video of the event is posted here.

Press release:
The Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at the School of Visual Arts
(SVA) presents Taking Custody: The Double Life of the Artist Mother, a
panel discussion among visual artists who are also mothers. Artist,
educator and blogger Sharon L. Butler  will moderate a conversation with alumni Suzanne McClelland (MFA 1989 Fine Arts), Katherine Bernhardt, (MFA 2000 Fine Arts), Rachel Papo (MFA 2005 Photography, Video and Related Media) Amy Stein (MFA 2006 Photography, Video and Related Media), and Ren�e Cox (MFA 1992 Photography), and faculty member Danica Phelps.
The artists will discuss their experiences negotiating the demands of
the commercial art world with those of motherhood. The event will take
place on Tuesday, October 16, 7pm at the SVA Theatre (333 West 23
Street). Admission is free and open to the public.

Three decades after women�s liberation, journalists like Ann-Marie Slaughter continue to explore �Why Women Still Can�t Have It All� (The Atlantic
July/August 2012), driving home the difficulties of balancing
motherhood with a highly-demanding career. But we have yet to hear from
the creative community about the unique challenges working mothers face.
How do women artists answer their creative calling�often without a
steady income�while satisfying the daily demands of raising children?

Although many women artists may feel the need to choose between pursuing
their passion and having a family, the panelists will discuss their
experience doing both, from what they sacrifice and struggle with
day-to-day to how they find time to go to the studio, arranging
childcare and cultivating relationships with their children while
remaining committed to their artistic practice.

Mary Cassatt, Tea,
1880, oil on canvas, 25� � 36� inches. Mary Cassatt, although famous
for her depictions of mothers with their children, never married or had kids
of her own. 
Image courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Katherine Bernhardt is
a painter represented by CANADA gallery. She earned her MFA in Fine
Arts from SVA in 2000. She has a 17-month-old son and practices
attachment parenting.

Sharon L. Butler maintains the award-winning art blog Two Coats of Paint and
is represented by Pocket Utopia. Based in New York City, she spends
weekdays with her 13-year-old daughter in Connecticut, where she
currently has an exhibition at Real Art Ways and is teaching an MFA seminar at the University of Connecticut.

Ren�e Cox
(MFA 1992 Photography) is a controversial Jamaican-born photographer
who uses her body to push the boundaries of racism, sexism, religious
and social issues. In Yo Mama’s Last Supper, Cox recreates Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, casting
herself as Christ. This piece was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in
2001 and drew the ire of former Mayor Giuliani when he called for the
establishment of “decency standards” for any art exhibited in a museum
receiving public funds. Renee has two sons, aged 23 and 19.

Suzanne McClelland
is a widely-exhibited painter who received her MFA in Fine Arts from
SVA in 1989 and is now represented by Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago
and Galerie Andres Thalmann in Zurich. She has two children, a
27-year-old daughter, who was a toddler while she was in graduate
school, and an 11-year-old son.

Rachel Papo is a freelance photographer whose work has been published in the The New York Times, New York magazine, Dance Magazine and Real Simple.
After her daughter Zohar was born in 2010, she left Brooklyn and moved
upstate to Woodstock, where she now lives with her husband Micah and
daughter, commuting to Manhattan for occasional assignments.

Danica Phelps
is a conceptual artist represented by Brennan & Griffin who has
made her work about her everyday life since 1995. Most recently, the
subject of these works on paper has been her son, now three years old,
who accompanies her during the installation of all of her exhibitions,
both at home and abroad.

Amy Stein is
an artist and educator based in New York City. Her work deals with
humankind’s increasing isolation from nature, culture and oneself. She
teaches at Parsons The New School, SVA and the International Center for
Photography. She lives in Queens with her husband and one year old son.

For further information, please contact the Office of Development and
Alumni Affairs at alumni@sva.edu. Follow the conversation on Twitter

Related posts:
Neo-Maternalism: Contemporary artists’ approach to motherhood


to Two Coats of Paint by email.


  1. Will this be recorded or taped in any way, shape, or form? I would LOVE to hear this conversation, but am not in NYC…

  2. Yes. An edited video of the discussion will be available on the SVA website.

  3. I've just searched the SVA website and can't find the video. Can anyone help? Thanks!

  4. I've just searched the SVA website and I can't find the video. Can anyone help? Thanks!

  5. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks for reminding me to add a link. The video is posted here:



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