Rare Breed is a collective of creative producers, activists and laborers who collaborate across generations to reinforce the role of mothers as a creative, innovative and political force.
In 2015 collective members initiated a series of multi-disciplinary creative projects to explore and reimagine the culture of motherhood. Projects included a consideration of the following questions: How do you learn to be a mother? What did you learn from your own mother? What have your children learned from you? How can a mother’s teaching practice effectively challenge systems of oppression or encourage social transformation? How can children’s destructive powers be harnessed for creativity? How can artistic collaborations between mothers and children transform or interrupt temporal and financial constraints and established patterns of domesticity?
The Rare Breed collective was created by Laura Chipley and is a commissioned project of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics Art and Social Justice Working Group.
Video stills: Playground (2016)
Laura Chipley and Alexis Raskin
Single-channel video installation, 5 minutes
Playground explores a child's extraordinary talent for destruction and how the act of breaking, tearing down, and rearranging is an important element of learning and discovery, and a necessary component of revolution.
Time lapse video: Playground // Bronx Museum
PLAYGROUND // BRONX MUSEUM (2016)
Interactive multimedia sculpture
Laura Chipley, Alexis Raskin, Jess Levey, Robert Greene
As part of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics Art and Social Justice Working Group Projects A through E event at the Bronx Museum, the Rare Breed Collective invited children of all ages to touch, rearrange, demolish or rebuild a series of multimedia sculptures as an exploration of the inherent tensions between motherhood and the art world.
RAGE [excerpt] (Full HD Video, 7 min - 2015)
Collaboratively produced by Alice Bonvincini and Laura Chipley, Rage explores the fear, guilt and stigma surrounding Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Rage, as experienced by both mothers and children.
I JUST HAD A BABY
(Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 in. - 2015)
I just had a baby is a painting by Alice Bonvicini. After having her second child, she experienced a terrifying postpartum depression.
"I wish someone asked me how I was feeling. How I was really doing. Not only about the baby, the sleeping, the big sister, the breastfeeding. I needed to hear, how are YOU." Mental illness, even temporary, makes people uncomfortable and even the most well meaning friends and family will likely shy away from the rawness of postnatal depression. PPD is debilitating, scary, and confusing. It can make a mother feel ashamed, alienated, inadequate, and guilty. Painting and hanging I just had a baby in her house, Alice fought back the stigma associated with PPD, reclaimed her visibility and demanded to be heard.
"Don't just ask about the baby, ask about the new mother. And mean it"
I just had a baby encourages effective and compassionate support of new mothers, 1 in 8 of whom will develop PPD.
"Healing can only start when a woman who just gave birth feels that her experience matters, that those around her are sincerely interested in her words and what's behind them."