Maternal Metaphors II


Maternal Metaphors II

Curatorial Statement

Maternal Metaphors II is the second incarnation of an exhibition that is premised upon questioning the institution and representation of motherhood and mothering in the west. The artists included in this exhibition—Camille Billops, Monica Bock and Zofia Burr, Myrel Chernick, Patricia Cué, Cheri Gaulke, Denise Ferris, Judy Gelles, Judy Glantzman, Heather Gray, Rohesia Hamilton Metcalfe, Youngbok Hong, Mary Kelly, Ellen McMahon, Margaret Morgan, Gail Rebhan, Aura Rosenberg, Shelly Silver, Barbara T. Smith, Signe Theill, Beth Warshafsky, Sarah Webb, and Marion Wilson—have questioned what it means to be a mother. In their work, they have tried to challenge the hegemonic representation of motherhood as an institution that is primarily white, middle class, young, and heterosexual. They have explored their ambivalence about becoming mothers after having enjoyed successful careers as artists for many years. They have also tried to represent the pre-Oedipal obsession that they have for their children, an obsession that cannot be represented according to psychoanalytic theory. They have explored their relationship with their mothers, a relationship that also changed after they had children. At least one artist, Cheri Gaulke, has looked at what it means to be a mother outside of the hetero-normative paradigm of the nuclear family. And two of the artists, Barbara T. Smith and Camille Billops, have made work about voluntary or involuntary loss of custody because they were not “good enough” mothers.

The first incarnation of Maternal Metaphors, which took place at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center in 2004, was comprised of artists that resided and worked in the U.S. For Maternal Metaphors II we have included an international roster of artists in order to include perspectives on motherhood that are not U.S. culture-centric. Patricia Cué (Mexico), Youngbok Hong (Korea), Denise Ferris (Australia), Margaret Morgan (Australia), and Signe Theill (Germany) approach motherhood through the lens of their different cultural experiences. As with the first Maternal Metaphors, we have included work in a variety of mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, video, sculpture, and installation. This exhibition also includes a number of artist’s books as well as a web-based piece (Youngbok Hong). Our main criterion for selecting this work was that it be conceptually interesting and aesthetically strong.

Jennie Klein
January 22, 2007


Camille Billops
Monica Bock
Patricia Cué,
Denise Ferris
Cheri Gaulke
Judy Gelles
Judy Glantzman
Heather Gray
Rohesia Hamilton Metcalfe
Youngbok Hong
Mary Kelly
Ellen McMahon
Margaret Morgan
Aura Rosenberg
Shelly Silver
Barbara T. Smith
Signe Theill and Doublebind
Beth Warshafsky
Sarah Webb
Marion Wilson


October 7 - November 4, 2006



“Maternal Metaphors II,” Artist Parent Index , accessed September 17, 2021,

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