April 9, 2011

Explaining Complaining

Family Time - Janis Wunderlich
As of this week, Janis Wunderlich is not just my favorite contemporary artist she's also my mommy hero.  She said something so profound, so completely full of insight, that it stopped me in my tracks.  Okay, I was on the couch and the tracks were those of a moose in the ice cream carton, but still I was stunned by the simple statement that really did explain so much.

I was introduced to this artist while watching Who Does She Think She Is?.  She and her husband have five children (teen to preschooler).  She spoke of her overly scheduled life and how she still carves out time to produce her sculptures.  She just has to.  All this was interesting but since I am not an artist I couldn't really relate.  Then Janis began discussing the bizarre, graphic nature of the images she creates.  Here she is this Mormon mom faithfully raising her family and yet her sculptures depict quite disturbing vignettes of motherhood.  (Have I mentioned I just love the raw emotion of these pieces?)  And then she said it.  Ms Wunderlich answered everyone's unspoken "why" with this simple explanation:  She shows the world this side of motherhood because the other, the incredibly sweet part, she keeps just for herself. 

I knew instantly that that was it.  That's why I blog.  That's why I complain to my friends.  That's why I commiserate with strangers in the grocery store.    I  gladly share the challenges of raising two young children on my own.  I share the chaos and the days that I feel I'm being torn into little pieces.  I'm not afraid to let those go.   But I keep most of the unbelievable, the undeserved, the incredibly sweet parts of motherhood locked deep inside me.  I am protective of those moments, fearing that too much handling will lead to their dissipation.
When all is said and done, Henry and Liam are fine children and it's an honor to be their mother.  I'd tell you more, but they are climbing my legs, screaming for popsicles.

Family Back Massage - 2005


  1. Great post, Lara. I wish I had more time to comment these days, but they've blocked all blogspot at work (something about viruses), so I can only pop in during my free moments at home... which as you can imagine are only in the middle of the night when I'm comatose. I still love reading your blog, and I'm always so excited about the things you expose me to. Never heard of this artist before. THANK YOU so much!

  2. It couldn't have been said any better. Thank you!

  3. I'm new to her and her work, so thank you for introducing her to me...I love the Family Back Massage sculpture. And I had to stop and think about what she and you said, and it's so very true, sometimes I don't even share those most precious moments with my hubby, they're mine, all mine.

  4. Love the Family Back Massage sculpture!