10 years ago I started an art project, and 10 years later I have this giant file of model releases. 756 in all. My art project was never intended to go on this long, my original intention was for it to be short - an artistic exercise that would result in my first pregnancy. I really felt like it was a matter of time, inevitable, that I would have a baby too.
10 years ago I started an art project, and I am amazed at how far it's taken me. The hundreds of women I've met, and spent 1 to 30 hours painting each one. Every woman has a story, a life she wasn't expecting. The intention behind the project was twofold, 1) to celebrate another woman's pregnancy with love and 2) to find peace with my fertility journey. At first it was a little awkward, I'll admit. What I remember the most is the warmth which these first models exuded, who embraced me and opened up about their journey. Making art on their bellies, whose residents often kicked back, began my healing. Who can be in the presence of a baby (or unborn baby) and not feel peace like this? It washed over me and filled those cracks in my being that felt the pain of not having this experience.
For 10 years I have heard hundreds of struggles with infertility, and all manner of results. It was a journey that went on and on, and with each turn in the road, I felt ever more called to purse it, to keep on asking to hear more stories, have more models come over. I just really fell in love with this stage of life, in awe of the strength of a woman's body. It was a journey that I kept expecting to end with a baby, but that baby never came. With each woman I met, I found more and more peace from the project, and slowly came to accept that I would not get to experience pregnancy this lifetime.
10 years ago I started an art project, and averaged 6 models every month. It has been amazing to see to blossom into an Art Career. Not just pregnant women, but postpartum women, women who were breastfeeding, and then the last few years I have incorporated all kinds of women, in all stages of life, some who have never had or will have the role of mother. To find beauty in all, to make beauty of all, to listen.
10 years ago I started an art project and I'm so glad I did. It changed the course of my life. I especially give thanks to my amazing husband Rob, who has encouraged me to create more art since we first met, 13+ years ago. When I talked about doing this art project 10 years ago, Rob said to me, "Why don't you have each woman sign a model release? Then you can publish a book when you're done." This liberated me. Create a book! I went on to create 6.