Egg Collective show celebrates female talent and mothers
Egg Collective presents ‘Designing Women III: Mother’, until 29 May 2021, an exhibition celebrating female talent in art and design, and including work by Louise Bourgeois, Charlotte Perriand and Renate Müller alongside contemporary creatives
An art and design exhibition organised and curated by all-female trio Egg Collective and photographer Tealia Ellis Ritter celebrates female designers and motherhood. It comes as mothers around the world have been bearing the brunt of the hardship the pandemic has dealt, be it balancing being a working parent while supporting children with virtual school, or having to leave the workforce altogether in order to do so.
The show, ‘Designing Women III: Mother’, is inspired by a Harvard study that found that a large proportion of the pay gap between men and women can be explained by the so-called ‘motherhood penalty’. This stems from the belief that women who become mothers are less committed to their jobs than fathers, who, in turn, are perceived as the family breadwinners. The exhibition seeks to address this inherent societal inequity by highlighting how women who are mothers have contributed notably to the art and design canons.
‘Designing Women III: Mother’ – celebrating female designers and artists
Curated together with Ritter, the sister of Egg Collective’s Crystal Ellis, the exhibition brings together historical and contemporary works from the art and design worlds by 28 women. From pieces by icons such as Louise Bourgeois, and Charlotte Perriand, whose dining table, low stool and oak and rush chair are on display, to a nature-inspired lighting piece by Jean Pelle, a site-specific installation by Rachel Cope of Calico Wallpaper, who worked alongside her six-year old daughter to create the design, and a playscape of children’s furniture by Renate Müller, the diverse array of creations mirrors the complexities of motherhood.
‘Something that we explore in this show, and in learning about the women and their practices, is how they figured out how to make it work on their terms,’ explains Ellis of the curatorial direction. ‘That’s something especially interesting to explore in art and design, because you can see how their creative processes changed or were affected sometimes by becoming a mother.’ She adds that the photographer Imogen Cunningham, whose Glacial Lily (1926) is on view, pivoted to capturing nature in her garden when she had her children, because she was mostly at home during that time.
‘We hope to foster a conversation about significant contributions made to the art and design landscape by creatives who happen to be women, and happen to be mothers’
In addition to works from recognisable names, the exhibition is filled with some surprises as well. At the entrance of the show, a silkscreen titled Dear Selma, Every Time I See A Dime, I Think of You (2010), by the mixed media artist Faith Ringgold, now in her nineties, powerfully depicts the story of Selma Burke, the African-American sculptor who created a bas-relief portrait of Franklin D Roosevelt that later appeared, albeit uncredited, on the American dime.
‘We hope to foster a conversation about significant contributions made to the art and design landscape by creatives who happen to be women, and happen to be mothers,’ says Egg Collective co-founder Hillary Petrie, who has a young child herself. ‘What kind of cultural capital are we missing out on when we consider the extraordinary hurdles presented to mothers not only during this global pandemic year, but in all years? Why are women not supported culturally in the pursuit of roles they choose? Where is the childcare and where is the paid family leave? Until we can successfully challenge the norm, this deficit will not equalise.’
She adds, ‘Since becoming a mother, I battle considerable guilt about how and where I spend my time, unable to focus on each of my roles and feel successful at each of my jobs: creative, mother, business partner, life partner. Highlighting the works of someone like Maria Pergay, an icon in my creative practice, fills me with the confidence and knowledge it can be done, and gracefully so. Moreover, I feel buoyed by the camaraderie of my contemporaries featured in the exhibition, for whom I have deep admiration. Sharing stories of how we all make it work, as creatives and mothers, pushing forward in both roles provides the understanding that I am not alone in my pursuit.’ §