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MOTHRA
artist-parent project
“Fans of Japanese monster movies will warm to Toronto-based collective MOTHRA… as much a creative project as it is a collective, and the group publishes a zine, exhibits together and agitates around the rights of caregivers. Since 2018, one of its most popular enterprises has been an artist residency…”
Hettie Judah. How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers. 2022. p.55
[read MOTHRA's interview with the author here]

Raison D'Etre


A patriarchal mode of working and making art has dominated our lives as artists as it has throughout our culture. To be taken seriously in most fields you are expected to sever your links with personal relationships - such as family - in order to be successful. MOTHRA is attempting to push back against this.

We are here to acknowledge the parent/artist relationship, often overlooked in contemporary art, and to set a precedent that one can still be an artist and a mother/father/carer of a child and that these roles can conflate.

“The MOTHRA residency is integrated, founded in a belief that an artist can work with or alongside their child… 'We are interested in learning how art and parenting are transformed when brought into relation in this way' "
Hettie Judah. How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers. 2022. p.55
[read MOTHRA's interview with the author here]

As participants in this project we research the context within which we are working - feminist theory, art historical context, feminist activism, politics, DIY culture, lobbying for institutional change, and we make contact with other groups internationally who are pursuing similar goals.

MOTHRA acknowledges that not all groups of parents struggle equally or in the same way. Race, age, ethnicity, gender, class, geography, custody agreements, and health, among other factors, impact families and children. We aim to include a diversity of voices and we strive to recognize and not tokenize. Access to resources is unequal - ie. cost and lack of childcare. Standard childcare options do not always fit with the lifestyle/earnings of many artist families. We need community support to equalize access to resources.

Photo: Brady Yu
Photo: Jacquelyn Hébert

The sector-wide issue that this project deals with is how to maintain an art practice whilst caring for a child. Children often come along at a time when art careers are starting to take off. The answer we are proposing is to work alongside and with one’s young child. MOTHRA seeks to provide this opportunity by acting as a catalyst to produce new work, skill share, co-work and co-learn, collaborate, and create space for dialogue about issues relating to caregiving and art practices. We would like to normalize the idea of having children present in the arts sector from the studio floor to the arts admin boardroom. We do not want to separate childcare from art practice, but to intermingle and celebrate the two spheres. Social isolation for the self-employed in any sector can be compounded for those caring for children. This project aims to help artist-parents reintegrate into the arts sector and to promote a more vibrant art world.

We need to prepare the artist-parent, arts funding bodies, studios, galleries, art venues, and society as a whole for the participation of children. A big part of what we do as humans is to care for others. This care should be acknowledged, should be visible, and should be rewarded.

How does art change when we admit to these relationships in our lives?

Residency Information


Open Call for 2024!

March & September residencies.

Artist-parent, child-inclusive, artist residencies!

Our current host institution is Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts, run by ArtHubs, on Toronto Island, Canada.

More information about the residencies, and how to apply, is available on this page.

Writing



Full-length interview for Hettie Judah's book, How Not To Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents) (2022)

Long-version for Artscape feature (2021)

"Thank You" from MOTHRA (2022)

MOTHRA Manifesto (2023)

Updates & Archive


In November 2023 a survey was released for artist-parents across Canada. More info on the survey can be found here. A report of the survey findings will be released in 2024.

We keep a record of our activities here and here.

Contact Us


Email: contactmothra(AT)gmail.com


Acknowledgements


MOTHRA has been funded as an art project, residency program, and sector innovator.

This project is conceived, founded, and run by Sarah Cullen – with the help of Alison Thompson, Simon Pope, Mary Dyja, Mary-Ann Alberga, and others.

Mug illustration by Alëna Skarina.

The project began in 2012, and MOTHRA came into being in 2018.

Sarah is on the steering committee for Balancing Act, a Canadian initiative advocating for caregivers in the performing arts.