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ArtFilm

#painting#Sarah Detweiler#short film#video

Sarah Detweiler Unpacks the Connections Between Art and Motherhood in ‘Exist’

May 28, 2024

Grace Ebert

In her 2014 novel Department of Speculation, Jenny Offill coined the phrase “art monster,” writing: “My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things,” those mundane things including motherhood and caring for a child.

The idea has since spawned numerous conversations about the intersection of art, gender, and parenthood, providing the foundation for recent books by Claire Dederer and Lauren Elkin who discuss the ways women are often asked to choose between being an artist and being a mother. Undergirding their arguments is the belief that there’s no need to leave one identity behind for the other. In a new short film, Sarah Detweiler exemplifies this point as she discusses how her daughter’s birth led to a new phase of her practice and helped her to find her voice.

Detweiler’s series Hidden Mother depicts women shrouded in fabrics in the style of Victorian-era portraits, and her children frequently appear in her multi-media works, sometimes similarly cloaked in a bedsheet. Directed by Jesse Brass for the Making Art film series, “Exist” visits Detweiler’s home near Philadelphia. As she squirts paint onto a palette and brushes it across the canvas, she discusses the bifurcated experience of being an artist and a parent, that for her, is always intertwined. “Artist Sarah is haunting mother Sarah during the day,” she jokes. “It’s like, I’m here! I’m here!”

Watch the film along with others in the Making Art series on Vimeo, and find more from Detweiler on Instagram.

a painting of a child underneath a printed blanket with a flashlight

a video still of the artist with her daughter. they're playing with a pink haired puppet while sitting on a couch

a round painting of a figure beneath a pink and blue sheet surrounded by greenery and a single pink arch

#painting#Sarah Detweiler#short film#video

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