The Art of Motherhood: A Conversation with Sarah Irvin

Amanda Dalla Villa Adams, The Rib, 6 March 2019

Multidisciplinary artist Sarah Irvin makes art about her experience as a mother; from her changing body during pregnancy and the trauma of labor to the monotony of breastfeeding or the challenging sleep habits of an infant. Through videos, books, drawings, sculptures, and installations, Irvin privileges her own biography as a lens for exploring the role of caring for another person and how that relates to identity and trauma. Yet, while Irvin highlights her personal experience as a woman, the work fluidly moves outside a biographical or gendered realm to addresses the socio-political and economic dimensions of mothering as a verb and underappreciated labor in contemporary society.

Irvin and I met through our day jobs: she was then-director for Current art fair and I interviewed her for an article that was published in Richmond, Virginia’s alt-weekly newspaper. I later became familiar with her work through her website and wanted to see more in person, so we scheduled a studio visit to view the work she presented recently in a two-person exhibition, titled The Beginning and the End, at Massey Klein in New York.