Ingrid Butterer

This is “Mother’s Abacus” (lower left); a physical manifestations of my experience as a woman, a mother and a representation of women’s struggle as a whole.

As a single working mother of two boys, I have scraped by economically, dealt with misogynistic police, racist social services, a sexist legal system and endured physical and emotional abuse. Each counting bead on Mother’s Abacus is crafted with those experiences in mind through clay. Clay – our universal mother earth is the origin of us all and the substance of the human body. It is the material from which we emerge, transform and return to continuously. Each bead is also born from the deep worry, endless tasks, sleepless sorrow, suffering, pride and joy of what I and many other women know, threaded onto metal into an endless loop of reckoning. Mother’s Abacus makes visible a struggle that is invisible to some but known by many. It echoes visually and metaphorically women’s power, our capacity to endure and persist.

This is “Bundling” (lower right); a physical manifestation of my experience as a woman, a mother and a representation of women’s struggle as a whole.

Single motherhood under the duress of abuse is a high stakes mission weighted by fear. For a mother in this situation, humble tasks take on larger meaning. Tying shoes; shoe strings are tied tightly for children traveling through trauma. Every button is the hardest button to fasten. Mothers hold their children close and bundle them against harsh weather. Mothers bind their children closer when every hour is characterized by its own sick physics. Bundling represents a mother’s humble tasks. Bundling is fiber and natural objects wound around a cluster of clay beads. Clay – our universal mother earth is the origin of us all and the substance of the human body. It is the material from which we emerge, transform and return to continuously. Bundling makes visible a struggle that is invisible to some but known by many. It echoes visually and metaphorically women’s power, our capacity to endure, persist and love our children.

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