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  • Russ Ramsey

Motherhood

As Mother’s Day approaches, for this Art Wednesday we’ll look at works of art centered on the theme of motherhood. A lot of art about mothers is sentimental, but there are works that focus on the ferocity of motherhood too. I’ll offer both.

Pedro Saorin, La madre patria (Mother Country), 1944


When I was a kid I wanted to grow my hair long. My mom said I could grow it as long as I wanted on two conditions: 1. I wouldn’t start acting like a punk. 2. I wouldn’t get upset when people who didn't know me looked at me and assumed I was punk. And just like that, standing there in her powder room, I received wisdom that has blossomed to apply to so many other situations in life. I think about that moment often.

Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (Whistler’s Mother), 1871


Every August my wife spends at least two hours on the phone with our oldest, helping him draft his fantasy football team. She doesn’t love fantasy football or two-hour phone calls, but she loves him. So she does it.

Van Gogh, Mother Roulin with Her Baby, 1888


This picture makes me want to weep. Three small children hidden in the frame of this woman who, all at once, carries the weight of the world and would also burn it down to protect them.

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936


I work with women who are mothers. None of them parent in the same way, but they all show such intentionality in the ways they fight for their kids’ wonder, reverence, and joy.

Claude Monet, Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil, 1875


I marvel at the information my wife carries as a mother—schedules, various stages of progress on things the kids are walking through, awareness when something is even a little off with one of them. Her love is fierce.

Berthe Morisot, The Cradle, 1872


So much can be communicated in the eye contact between mother and child—warning, correction, affection, silliness, safety, consolation, and permission to cry. The bond a mother can form with a child is sacred and rare.

Picasso, Mother and Child, 1921

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