REEL MOTHERS : Escondido, CA

WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? will be part of the “Reel Mothers” exhibition at the California Center for the Arts in
Escondido. The exhibition runs from February 7 – June 21, 2009.


The curator, Andrea Liss, has shared her reaction to the film below:

I have now viewed your powerful, beautiful film several times; each time I am all the more affected by the deep psychic pain Maye and Angela have had to endure as they continue to love their children, the fascinating intersections between motherhood and the surreal in Janis’ work, Camille’s return and giving to her native island and to herself and Mayumi’s politically and psychically motivated sense of return to the land – without the essentialism that is often ironically denigrating to women/mothers.

The message conveyed is transformation. At whatever cost, to meet one’s soul AND the tenderness and power of mothering and the giving to and receiving of one’s childrens’ love — not either/or but as you write it,”inextricably interdependent”  — mutual respect among mothers and their children. This is the soul of my book, Feminist Art and the Maternal – the intersubjectivity between mother-artists and their children and the artists’ power and courage to redefine the deep power of love, to redefine sentiment, to be in the place of the mother and to challenge the norm, to be mothers out of place.

I would be honored to include your important and beautifully conceived film in “Reel Mothers.”

In deepest affinity,



10 Responses to “REEL MOTHERS : Escondido, CA”

  1. I had the wonferful fortune of viewing this film during a college course (Feminist Art & Motherhood) instructed by Dr. Andrea Liss at Cal State San Marcos in California. Wow! What a remarkable film! Not only did I learn about what other women have experienced through art and the struggle to create, but I also learned so much about myself. As I sat and watched, I began to jot down quotes from the film that moved me. Quotes that I related to and wanted to remember because they expressed what I have been feeling all of these years. Phrases like, “art is a transforming force” “finding myself through creating art is more important than the art”, “felt like I had birthed this art”, “no monetary gain” “release on paper”, “art is always a risk, but sometimes a risk you have to take”, and so on. I was so engrossed in the film that I did not capture the names of the artists who spoke the words, and some may be paraphrased as opposed to direct quotes, but they moved me all the same. I am a mother of 4, a wife of 20 years, but an artist from the day I stepped into Kindergarten class and discovered an art easel.

    Thank you for producing such a wonderful work of art in this film and for sharing all the stories with the rest of us so we know we are not alone. I too, get so engrossed in my work that I often feel I am addicted to it. In 2006, I suffered the misfortune of losing my daughter and it was at that time that art became my savior and my way of coping. Art not only communicates but it has great healing power!

    Thank you for sharing this experience with all of us. I will be attending the exhibition at the Escondio, California for the Center of the Arts.

    Take care,
    Marilyn Huerta

  2. Suzanne Marrs Says:

    I too was fortunate to view “Reel Mothers” during Andrea Liss’ class at CSUSM. Until watching the movie I did not fully comprehend the connection between mothers and artists, in part because I am not a mother. After having viewed the movie I can finally relate to my own mother’s plea for self expression. In the past I have believed a woman’s obligation is her children and family. However, she needs more than that as my mother has expressed. In the film I took note that self expression will lead to the quality of life. And in turn, what’s good for a woman is good for men and children. I know this fact is true from experience. I know my mother is not happy when forgets what she loves. When mom is not happy, no one is happy. Apart from being a mother, women must not forget their calling whether it be art, music, writing, or dance. Mothers must not put their passions on the back burner while constantly satisfying the needs of others. Because if women do not satisfy their own needs by doing what they love, who will?
    I thought the film was great in that it really opened my eyes and gave me a deeper appreciation for mothers and all that they juggle. To all the women in the film keep doing what you love.

  3. Matt Letson Says:

    I viewed this film at CSUSM as well. This film was interesting to see how these female artists balance their lifestyles with their work. I actually recognized two of the artists in the movie because I have seen their artwork before.

    It was interesting to see how some of the woman managed their time between their families and work. It was sad to see the consequences of their choices they made such as getting divorced or not getting to see their children.

    One of the scenes from the movie that stood out the most was when people were asked if they could name 5 female artists. Most of the interviewees couldn’t even name one. This made me realize how hard it was for female artists to make it out in the art world. I hope that one day this will change and artists can all be equally as known and popular among both genders.

  4. Finbarr Prendergast Says:

    This movie was an eye-opener espically comming from a males standpoint, Each and everyone of these women in this film were so strong it really did amaze me. What these women have done and the sacrafices each one made to either pursue their art or conserve their art career is astonishing. The strength these women posess puts the strength of almost any male i know. The other thing this movie made me realize is more than anything is how hard it is to be a mother espically a working mother artist or not these women posses something that is so admirable that they should be more glorified and commened in our society. The film was terrific i think it’s great that artist run in circles in their community but i think that this film needs to touch a broader audience especially male viewers because i really do believe it that this film is that good and it can make a difference.

  5. Lynn Torbert Says:

    I visited this exhibit in Escondido and I thought it was fabulous. This situation is not publically known and most likely because women are seen to HAVE to be mothers and are not “supposed” to do anything but be mothers. These women are honorable to be doing what they love while still taking care of the people that they love, although many of them looked very tired on the video. Mother’s are clearly not respected enough for everything they have to do. The women/mothers from the video have to work twice as hard to be where they are because women artists are not highly known and once people find out that these women artists are mothers they are not highly respected. What I found very surprsing from the movie is that the director brings up that in Egypt women use to be the most powerful and were respected because they had the most authority. What made me think was what happened over the years, when men took power and women were devalued and were no longer thought of as goddesses. What these women do from the video is remarkable. Not only are they females and mothers but they are artists as well and are willing to pay the price no matter if its positive or negative.

  6. Lynn Torbert Says:

    Ok this is my 3rd attempt to try to post this haha.

    I attended the Escondido City of Arts Museum and I thought it was fabulous. This subject of women artists who are also mothers is not well known because women unfortunately have the stereotype that if they are a mother that is all they’re suppose to be and if they do decide to pursue a career they are not supporting their family. What I found was surprising was when someone on the film stated that women use to be seen as the most powerful people and were highly expected. What really hit me was “what happened over the years?” Men came into power and all of a sudden women were some how not as important anymore and too emotional and were no longer concidered goddesses. This is an important issue to dicuss because it’s not only true about women who are mothers and artists but women who are mothers and who are trying to pursue a career. The film is really moving and I believe that this movie should be shown in Introduction to Women Studies Classes. Good job!

  7. Cindy Torrez Says:

    This documentary really opened my eyes to the fact that most women artist around the world are given little recognition. I was amaze when they interview a bunch of people in the film and none them can name a single women artist. I felt heartbroken because it made me realize that as of today the 21st century our world still acknowledges the man’s work more than women. I was inspirited by the bravery of Mayumi Oda as activist, an artist, a mother. That made it clear that I can be my own person and be a deserving mother all at the same time. I was astonished by Janis Wundelich I really admire how dedicated she is to her family and still makes times for her art work. Wundelich is very lucky to have the support of her family as artist. All the women are worthy of being a nurturing mother, artist, and goddess all at once. All them are strong women that made a mark in the history of feminism and deserve to be recognized.
    Cindy Torrez

  8. Melissa Johns Says:

    It seems unfair that there must be a choice. Choose one, lose the other; lose yourself. When the mothers of the film are expressing their passion for art and for their families, they do so in the same breath, and with the same amount of excitement. Why should these women be forced to live in one world or the other (The art world or family life)? The film was moving and powerful, as it displayed the real struggle that women face; both internally and with the world that won’t accept them for all that they are. To be accepted and admired for your whole self seems like the dream these women aim to achieve on a daily basis. The strong mother-artists are kept vulnerable, as one woman describes that her dream is no longer safe and neither is she. This film is a tribute to all women who see life through creative lenses and yearn to release that into their world. These women cannot silence the voice that calls to them to make art, and so for the benefit of their children they must create in order to keep the passionate voice from turning into resentment. This film was a pleasure to watch and discuss in Dr. Andrea Liss’ class at the California State University, San Marcos. Dr. Liss makes it her life’s work to speak out about these mother-artists that so desperately need support. This film should be cherished by all young women who seek to become mothers and by those who already are.

  9. Elizabeth Caldwell Says:

    After viewing this documentary at Cal State San Marcos in Professor Andrea Liss’ class, “Feminist Art and Motherhood,” I was deeply moved. Due to some technical difficulties I couldn’t post this comment right away, but my immediate thoughts after viewing the documentary were filled with such respect for these women as not only artists but mothers also. The sheer strength that one must have to go against the grain of what the stereotypical place in society is and pursue a passion true to your heart is not only something that should be admired (male or female) but it should also be celebrated and publicized much more. Each title in itself (artist and mother) is something that in my opinion can be a scary adventure to embark on. Becoming a mother and being responsible for the care and well-being of another human life is a huge responsibility, and being an artist, also filled with it’s own responsibilities of education, activism, delving into your true emotions, sharing your work and soul in a sense with the public. Both “titles” create a massive sense of vulnerability and allow for these women to be subjected to judgment of all sorts for a variety of sources. The women in the film showed such power in standing up for what they believe they needed to do, not just wanted to do. They wanted and needed to be mothers and caregivers, but their souls would not survive and flourish without following their artistic passions as well. Thank you so much for making this film.
    Elizabeth Caldwell

  10. Imelda Arroyo Says:

    The first thought that came to mind after having viewed the documentary narrative of these amazing artists, who are also mothers, was that they are inspirational. The drive and need to create art, regardless of circumstance, should be commended all on its own. The fact that they serve as a role model for their children, and others, as some have developed camps and workshops for students, adds to their purpose of creating art by opening the doors for anyone who wants to be an artist, and encourages them to never give up their dream.

    I thought that the film was visually and emotionally moving.

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