I am very privileged to have my own classroom where I teach my independent childbirth classes. While I do feel the pressure of needing to make rent every month, along with the (often unexpected) expenses that come with having a space of my own, the many benefits and convenience definitely outway the negatives.
Part of the fun of having my own teaching space is decorating it and hanging art on the wall. I am very intentional about what images I put up, and always try to have people represented from diverse backgrounds and show their entire body and head if possible. (See this post here.) I also hope that the image can represent the Six Healthy Birth Practices, to reinforce what families are learning in my classes.
I have been searching for an image that both represented breast/chestfeeding and a person of color to add to my collection, ever since reading this article "What Can Art Teach Us about Breast-feeding" in The Washington Post. Breast/chestfeeding has been depicted by artists for centuries, and I liked the idea of modeling this in my own personal collection that hangs in the classroom.
For years, "The Pregnant Frog Woman" has hung in the classroom, enjoyed by many. This art was created by a First Nations young mother, Jamie Nole, who lives in British Columbia, Canada. I checked back into her studio to see if she had anything related to feeding a newborn and low and behold found "Liquid Gold". I am delighted to say that it now hangs in my office. Living in the Pacific Northwest, this style of art is common within the many native tribes and peoples that have lived on this land for millennia.
The artist's personal reflections on this piece really hit home.
"The story behind this piece was inspired by my journey as a young single mother nursing for the first time. I was scared holding my baby for the first time, I had no clue what to do. I cried for hours trying to figure out how to nurse my child, most of the nurses tried their best to help me. One nurse talked about overcoming her challenge nursing and the worth in the end. It wasn’t until a lactation consultant came in and explained techniques which made nursing much more relaxing. I felt that the relaxing feeling can be best describe as a tingle through the body. This tingly feeling was best represented by the gold pigment in the design. I decided on the name Liquid Gold because I found it was commonly used in mother support groups referencing breast milk and all its nutrients, and rarity.
I continued to nurse for 3 years of my son’s life, which honestly was kept a secret for all the judgment that happens when a lady nurses over 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, or even nursing at all. I hope that nursing will be normalized soon as it’s such an amazing feeling for both mother and child, and has many benefits.
My hopes are for this print to inspire other moms to do their best and try their hardest – most of us have been there. Also, I’d like to give recognition to moms who are not able to nurse, that it’s okay, and you gave it your all. Most importantly I’d like to give thanks to all the nurses and lactation consultants for all the women they empowered."
The pregnant families who come through my classroom acknowledge that they develop confidence in their bodies, information to help them with informed consent and refusal along with community with other families. Having art on the walls that reflects their journeys is an added bonus but much appreciated, based on the feedback they share.
Does the art and images hanging in your teaching space reflect your mission and values? Can you share links to some of your favorites so others may consider acquiring them?
Macierzyństwo ("Maternity"), a 1902 painting by Stanisław Wyspiański
Liquid Gold - painting and print by Jamie Nole