Spectrum of Desires: Sensuality, Sexuality, and Motherhood
Social and artistic research rarely addresses the erotic lives of mothers. Conversations about women’s bodies postpartum, and in relationship to sex and desire are widely understood to contradict the idealization of mother as caretaker: sacrificial, suffering, uninvolved with public life, delicate in sensibility. But this caricature is wrong. The question is not whether sexuality and motherhood can exist, but how they do.
Through both creative practice and the curation of an exhibition of contemporary work, Spectrum of Desires draws on material from the Kinsey Collection to explore a series of questions: What is the relationship between love and sensuality in a familial context? How does mothering and motherhood shape or influence sexual desire? How does sexual expression influence one’s experience of motherhood? Nursing, birthing, rocking, feeding, holding, stroking, comforting—these are the overlapping movements and memories that can influence a mother’s psyche. Spectrum of Desires brings such movements to new visibility.
Elizabeth Claffey is Assistant Professor of Photography in the School of Art, Architecture, and Design. Recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in 2012, Claffey’s artistic work has been recognized or supported by PDN Magazine, Center Santa Fe, The Eddie Adams Workshop, and various other galleries and publications including Strange Fire Collective, Don’t Take Pictures Magazine, and Western Exhibitions in Chicago.