Saturday, 26 March 2011

Childbirth through art

I already made a collection of pregnancy through art, this time I'll focus on childbirth. The first section includes historic view of childbirth. Note the different birthing positions, and ask yourself why today we give birth lying down in a bed?

Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware ... To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.
GRANTLY DICK-READ, Childbirth Without Fear

The Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl was a complex deity, known in one aspect for luring people into bad behavior and in another for absolving them of their sins.
Egypt: relief from the Temple of Hathor at Dendera (304-30 BC; Egyptian Museum, Cairo). This relief shows a squatting woman in childbirth (using a birth stool), while being assisted by two goddesses
Detail of Mochica Stirrup Spout Jar Depicting a Woman Giving Birth. © Werner Forman
Handmade oil painting reproduction of The History of Medicine in Mexico The People's Demand for Better Health, detail of childbirth, 1953, a painting by Diego Rivera.

Scene of Childbirth, bas relief, Italy, Rome, Museum of History of Medicine

Childbirth was probably easier for most women in early cultures, especially in hunter-gatherer societies, where everyone was accustomed to physical labor and supple and fit from daily activity.
SUZANNE ARMS, Immaculate Deception II

Woodcut of a Midwife Assisting a Childbirth. © Bettmann

Childbirth during the medieval times took place on a stool or in the lap of another woman. More on history.
by Abraham Bosse (ca. 1602-1676), whose engravings offer detailed glimpses into the daily life of early France.
Victorian England
Birth in France

It is unheard-of, uncivilized barbarism that any woman should still be forced to bear such monstrous torture. It should be remedied. It should be stopped. It is simply absurd that, with our modern science, painless childbirth does not exist as a matter of course.... I tremble with indignation when I think of ... the unspeakable egotism and blindness of men of science who permit such atrocities when they can be remedied.

Inner & outer harmony
Statue by Ron Mueck

Natural childbirth allows the hormones that have been working for women for thousands of years to fulfill their functions. This is more important than just helping a woman through labor and delivery. Birth-related hormones also affect well-being much later in life.
JANET SCHWEGEL, Adventures in Natural Childbirth
Next photos are all from: Birth art and Motherhood

Women's bodies have near-perfect knowledge of childbirth; it's when their brains get involved that things can go wrong.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Pregnancy through art

"I begin to love this creature,
and to anticipate her birth
as a fresh twist to a knot,
which I do not wish to untie."
-- Mary Wollstonecraft

A sculpture of a pregnant woman by Ron Mueck, 2002.
By Joel Kelly  
By Henrik Sorensen

Gustav Klimt: Hope II, 1907
Paula 8 Months On Yellow by Christina Kubrick.
Jan van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, 1434
Alice Neel: Margaret Evans Pregnant, 1978
Pregnant Woman,1913; by Chagall, Marc
Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance
Complicated shadows by Heidi Taillefer
Sneaky work at the crossroads by Heidi Taillefer
Venus envy by Heidi Taillefer

 And let me end this collection with a poem by Maya Angelou:

Phenomenal Woman

"Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me."