Museum of Motherhood

MamaBlogger365 – Oh My Goddess, FeMail Online Art Exhibit by Suzi Banks Baum and Karen Arp-Sandel

FeMail closes our on-line exhibit on M.O.M. invoking the Divine Feminine in all of us.

Over these past ten Tuesdays, Karen and I have shared with you some of the themes that run through the mail art that comprises FeMail. Our sisterhood chronicled in these postal cards made over the last four years traces our mothering and our friendship, our love of art making, and our fascination with pop culture. There are threads of inspiration, poetry and icons that we have imbued with spiritual meaning through the medium of these hand made and at times, rustic, small artworks that get handled by the United States Postal Service.

We have attempted to re-frame motherhood by parsing out what motivates us to share and support each other in this unique way. With the barest of art supplies, we cobble together missives while in the midst of our busy lives as mothers, partners, caregivers and breadwinners.

A Vocabulary of Desire, front; image © Suzi Banks Baum, All Rights Reserved.

The Yoga of Pleasure, front; image © Suzi Banks Baum, All Rights Reserved.

Judy in July, front; image © Suzi Banks Baum, All Rights Reserved.

The last cards I have chosen to share with you are among my favorites. They are intensely feminine and personal. I chose to see every woman as a Goddess, as an expression of the Divine here on earth today. Culturally, women’s bodies have been laden with sexual connotations. I chose to celebrate the female form. I express my vision differently in each of these three cards.

In the first, I used a small figure painting of my own, coupled with a packing tape transfer of a Picasso lithograph, the next with Botticelli’s Venus on the Half Shell from an Italian water bottle label on cardboard, and the third a newspaper photo of a Warhol painting of Judy Garland that appeals to my sensuality with her full red lips and heavily lined eyes. Each of these renderings of the female form capture my interest because they are so individual and unique, classic but not so contemporary in that the women are full and lusty, rather than slim and wraith-like. I adore women. I adore being a woman. I am challenged to raise my daughter with a standard of beauty which uses her own best self as the standard, rather than what she sees in the media. I made these cards for Karen using all of my mixed media techniques. You can find hand marbled papers, Chart-pak transfers and packing tape transfers.

Color and Form, front; image © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

The language of abstract art is the message of this mixed media altered art post card. Upcycling a colorful museum post card, I added to the content using a rich selection of my own hand marbled and painted papers, scraffito scraps and even crossword puzzle bits. Look closer and you’ll find elegant Audrey Hepburn and a strip of Muybridge motion photography. Pictured in her role as the iconic fashion plate, Holly GoLightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, Audrey became the focus of my Pop art mixed media collages during this time. Her elegance and slim figure helped put designer Givenchy on the map. With this post card for Suzi, whose background in couture has always taught me more about fashion, I referenced with humor, the idealized beauty of the sixties. Being the artist is every bit as important as being the object of the artist! Let’s hear it for dressing the part.

Saraswati, front; image © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

“Invoking our inner Goddess isn’t a girl thing, it is a big choice to tap into our very deepest source of empowerment and creativity and happiness.”

That is the message I sent Suzi after our Spring Collage Fling this March at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, where I taught my Vibrant Visionary Collage workshop. I encouraged Suzi to flex her creativity and chant for Shakti energy!

The front of this post card depicts the Goddess Saraswati, avatar of the Divine Feminine, and guide to art, literature and musical self expression. I painted a water color of my star magnolia tree in spring, and collaged Saraswati at its base, surrounded by radiant marbled paper color.

This iconic Hindu deity is the essence of the creative muse for me, symbolizing the elemental creative force within all of us. When we clear our minds and open our hearts the muse can join with our procreative fecundity. Using our authentic voice, we discover our passion and bring it into the world for all to experience with us.

Om Eim Saraswati Namaha.

Thank you, Goddess, I'll Take More, front; image © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Madonna and Child , the icon of motherhood, exists in every culture as a reminder of the Divine Feminine Power of procreativity! After an artistic retreat to Cortona, Italy where Mary shrines are placed on every corner in town, I began to reflect deeply on the archetype they represent. I made some Madonna shrines at home in my studio, and many mixed media collages using the Madonna icon. To my surprise these works of art sold like hot cakes! I realized that the goddess is alive and well in the 21st century.

This post card is also found in our FeMail Gallery, FeMail Online Art Exhibit by Suzi Banks Baum and Karen Arp-Sandel, as an archival giclee print and features a quote of Suzi’s. She is always thanking the Godesss and inviting more abundance in to her life. I collaged this in May 2009 using a vintage engraving, mandala symbols, text and hymn paper and of course the big blue Moon and pink rose that seem to encapsulate motherhood for us.

Karen and I lead a workshop in conjunction with our FeMail art installation, titled The Daily-ness of Art. We are serious about every single person finding a creative outlet every single day. We are the “no person left behind” contingent when it comes to art making. We believe “art is not separate” and the truths that emerge as you continually step in to your own creative flow reveal streams of brilliance that might not otherwise be revealed to you or to the world. We are dedicated to giving our participants simple tools with readily available materials with which to start art making in their daily lives.

You will have an opportunity to sample our workshop at the Museum of Motherhood conference at Marymount Manhattan College on May 25. We will be leading a shortened version of our workshop and begin to create an archive of mail art for M.O.M. We’d love for you to participate. Until we meet, we send you our deep thanks for reading us here at the Museum of Motherhood and Mamablogger365. We’d love to hear from you. Until we meet, may you find the art of your life with every breath you take.

Bio: Suzi Banks Baum is an Heirloom Variety Mom living in the hills of western Massachusetts. She is a writer and artist, raising two teenagers with her husband. As she writes her book Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Women she blogs on the sacred in daily life at www.laundrylinedivine.com. Visit an online gallery and discussion of my mail art collaboration with Karen Arp-Sandel titled “Fe-Mail” at www.femailart.com.

Karen Arp-Sandel is a woman who wears many hats: artist, educator, yoga teacher, workshop presenter, Mother, wife, aunt, daughter and sister. In her role as a collage artist, she makes art in her home studio and teaches classes at IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, where she is on the faculty of the Painting, Drawing and Collage department. When she is not in her studio or instructing adults, she implements an exciting Learning through Arts programs in the public elementary schools using the skills in her “visual artist toolbox”. You can learn more about her in her professional capacity by visiting KarenArpSandel.com.

Come to FeMailArt.com to view an online gallery and discussion of the mail art collaboration between Karen Arp-Sandel and Suzi Banks Baum. You can also see more about this exhibit at MotherhoodMuseum.org.

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!


About M. Joy Rose

Woman, Mother, Human, Rocker, Educator, Activist Director; Museum of Motherhood President and Founder; MaMaPaLooZa Inc. a company by Women, Promoting (M)others for social, cultural and economic benefit. Dedicated to a more educated, more peaceful, more musical planet.

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