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Motherhood and Art Books

great books to read a list by artist Rachael Grad

Mother's Day in Canada and the U.S. is coming up next month. I'm always looking for creative gift ideas for my mom and family members. If your mother loves to read, I have some book recommendations for you and her. For my recently completed Master's of Fine Arts research that focused on art and motherhood, I've found some great books, films and other resources including:  

📖 Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel (I listened to the audiobook and referenced a hardcopy). This long book chronicles the lives of five female abstract expressionist artists who succeeded in the male-dominated New York art world. I enjoyed learning about women painters Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler.

📚 Inappropriate Bodies; Art, Design, and Maternity by Rachel Epp Bullet and Charles Reeve. A collection of essay on maternal experiences of artists and creatives. 

📕 Artist and mother (Season 9, Episode 7, TV series episode, 2018, April 17). In Artbound. Public Media Group of Southern California. A short video profiling four California artists who feature motherhood in their art: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Andrea Chung, Rebecca Campbell and Tanya Aguiñiga. These artists work to dismantle the cliché that mothers can't be serious artists. The four women artists balance career and parenting demands while exploring maternal issues in their art.

📖 The story of art without men (2023) by Katie Hessel. A book that picks select successful female artists throughout history to describe and revere. Women artists from the Renaissance to the contemporary are highlighted as exceptional examples of their times. 

📚 How Not to Exclude Mothers (and Other Parents) (2022) by Hettie Judah. This book details the experiences and struggles of mother artists who are determined to parent and create art. 

📕 Daybook: The Journal of an Artist (1982) by Anne Truitt. Journal entries about motherhood and art practice by the late sculptor. 

summer reading books for art research by artist Rachael Grad


Additional books that I've read for my Master's of Fine Arts and Bachelor's of Fine Arts are below. I highly recommend these anthologies and art exhibition catalogues: 

📕 Mother Reader; Essential Readings on Motherhood by Moira Davey

📖 The M Word; Real Mothers in Contemporary Art edited by Muriel Chernick and Jennie Klein

📚 Representations of Motherhood by Donna Bassin, Margaret Honeu, Mertle Maurer

📕 The Great Mother by Massimiliano Gioni. Catalogue of a 2015 art exhibition in Milan, Italy that included the artwork of over eighty international artists. The book analyzes motherhood iconography in art and visual culture during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, from early avant-garde movements to the present. 

📖 Uninvited; Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment by Sarah Milroy and A.C Dejardin 

📚 Double jeopardy: Motherwork and the law (2001) by L.A. Turnbull

📕 Partners: Ydessa Hendeles (2004) 

📖  Louisa Matthiasdottir (2002)

I always have a pile of books to read. While I plan to read from across various genres, these books are in my to-read pile for this summer...

2024-04-19 Art Books to Read by Toronto Artist Rachael Grad blog square ig.jpg

Here are some books I'd like to read this summer:

📖  A Life’s Work; On Becoming a Mother by Rachel Cusk

📕 Wet; On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture by Mira Schor

What’s on your reading list? I’m always looking for great book recommendations.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Mother's Day!

Related Art Blog Posts on Motherhood and Art:

Great Art Mother Books to Read by Toronto Artist Rachael Grad blog (Pinterest Pin)
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