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Colours of Motherhood
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Colours of Motherhood: Continued; The Diamond Shop, Morgantown, WV; March 10, 2018-March 30, 2018

Review by Linda Rosefsky, West Virginia University

Colours of Motherhood: Continued, installation view with Kelly Keifer’s The Orange Dress (2017) at center, Sally Deskins’ Working Mother (Reflecting on Silliness, Three Bodies in Air to Infinity) (2017) at left, and Martyna Matusiak’s Roots (2018) at right. Photo courtesy of The Diamond Shop.

Women have struggled with societal expectations of motherhood and their own personal desires to be artists for centuries. Art making is often perceived as a selfish act that clashes with the selfless act of mothering; this conflict is addressed in diverse and meaningful ways in Colours of Motherhood: Continued, an exhibition curated by Kelly Keifer.

Before entering the gallery, visitors encounter a female mannequin ironically displayed in a shop front window with the words MOTHERS CANNOT BECOME ARTISTS scrawled across its nude torso. The artworks inside contradict this assumption.

Light-filled energy permeates Kelly Keifer’s The Orange Dress (2017), a portrait of the artist’s young daughter. Since the photograph on which the painting is based was taken by Keifer’s mother it represents three generations of women, heightening its emotional impact. Sally Deskins’ playfully sensual Working Mother (Reflecting on Silliness, Three Bodies in Air to Infinity) (2017) features impressions of the artist’s body in black and magenta acrylic on Mylar (Full Disclosure: Deskins is volunteer managing editor for SECAC Online Exhibits Reviews.). Thighs, bellies, and breasts appear to soar against a reflective silver ground. Is Deskins inviting us to shed the restraints of the past and question how we view our own bodies?

Martyna Matusiak’s intensely symbolic Roots (2018) was created when the artist’s three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Policystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Matusiak’s haunting painting evokes a collage of time-worn family photographs, blurring the harsh reality of the present with hazy memories of the past. Fleeting glimpses of Matusiak’s ancestors may be caught throughout the sepia-toned canvas as well as impressions of leaves, roots, and branches – poignant references to the influence PKD will have on the artist’s family tree.

The Colours of Motherhood: Continued provides an intimate view of the mother-artist experience; perhaps the imagery in this thoughtfully planned exhibition will encourage viewers to meditate on their own families – past and present.

Linda Rosefsky is a lecturer in the School of Art and Design at West Virginia University. She specializes in Modern and Contemporary art history.