My collage work draws inspiration from remnants of daily domestic life to confront what is recorded and valued in the realm of the maternal. The elements I choose to incorporate relate specifically to the dominant aspects of my current life: my children and my home. I use personal photography, my kids’ doodles and writing, tape, fabric shards, wallpaper samples, leftover latex paint from home projects, and imagery from old books to create abstract collages with limited color palettes. Using these specific references, I address the invisible labor associated with being a mom. Through the repetition of shape, line, image, and pattern, I achieve structure and balance within the unplanned formation of the work. I make orderly the disorder that accompanies my daily life and, by working spontaneously and freely, I reject the limitations of the role of “mother,” making space for exploration and play.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
I am an artist, teacher, and mother based in Chicago, Illinois. After completing my undergrad in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I went on to earn a Masters in Teaching from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I have taught everything from art history to printmaking to textiles to painting at Chicago Public Schools and Marwen, a non-profit art school in Chicago’s gallery district.
My educational philosophy is grounded in critical theory and social justice as well as a commitment to the Teaching for Artistic Behavior framework. My artistic practice is rooted in play. After years of mothering small children, I found myself yearning for the same energized focus I observed in my kids while they played. Through collage, I am able to achieve that sense of spontaneity and flexibility while being fully immersed in the process of making.
The materials I choose to manipulate connect very personally to domestic life and motherhood, often springing directly from my children’s artwork and writing. The result of these playful experiments are compositions that memorialize the fragments of my daily life and give them a new and fresh significance.
© Cathleen Cramer