To spin soiled diapers, mucky floors, tired eyes and laundry monsters into inspiration for an art installation is to simply live a day in the lives of Grand Forks artists Tess Noren and Alyssa Baresinkoff.
The duo, both mothers to kids under six years old, have transposed the messiness, love and magic of their families onto canvases and into sculptures for this year’s Boundary Family Services Society exhibit at Gallery 2, titled “Through the chiffon curtain: motherhood unveiled.”
“Pregnancy, that’s its own special thing,” Noren said. “But motherhood, then you walk through a door and you never go back.”
“Even in your mind, just think about what life was like before kids, it’s nearly impossible,” Baresinkoff added.
“I think sleep deprivation also kills the part of your brain that remembers that too,” Noren said.
The installation, which opened Tuesday, has traditionally represented artists’ interpretations of breastfeeding, in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, which is recognized globally from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7. This year, though, the two moms have modified the scope of the project.
“We’re expanding from breastfeeding to have motherhood, fatherhood, pregnancy and the joys and the hardships in there too,” said Noren. “You kind of get strung behind a truck and dragged along – but it’s really magical – you wouldn’t want to change it.”
Neither Noren nor Baresinkoff had planned on running this year’s show, but it fell upon them in August, anyways.
“I had already finished a breastfeeding piece and so I asked Melanie Shenstone at Boundary Family Services, ‘How many pieces can one person submit?’ because I had a couple ideas in mind,” said Baresinkoff. But because the call for artists hadn’t been sent out yet and time was getting tight, Shenstone replied: “Well, do you want the space for yourself,” Baresinkoff recalled.She immediately reached out to Noren to partner on the endeavour.
The aim, Baresinkoff said, is to use the transparency of her and Noren’s own lives to relate to other parents, spilling humour throughout the empowering display.
to parents going in there, though, identify with what we’re gonna put together. But also that, you know, there is there’s hardships, and then there’s joys, and it’s all mixed in together. And it’s pretty magical.
“You don’t know how much you love your children until you have them,” said Noren, who has three children, aged five and a half, three and a half and one and a half.
“One thing that shocked me is that you can get unfathomably small amounts of sleep and still look after everyone,” she said on what she learned when she had her first son.
“It’s not all about doing those fun birthday parties and cakes and crafts all the time,” said Baresinkoff, explaining her misconceptions about motherhood before she had kids.
Even when the two find time away from their kids – often to avoid becoming some overwhelmed “raging monster” – Noren’s words – their minds snap back to their little ones.
“You always enjoy parenthood more when you have a little break,” said Noren. But at the same time, she explained, “You’re like, ‘I can’t wait to get away from them, I just need a moment!’ And then you go do something and you’re like, ‘Hmm, I wonder what they’re doing right now.’”
In those moments, the two women paint what they know – their kids and family lives.
“We seem to run on the exact same artistic wavelength,” Noren said of her partnership with Baresinkoff.
“We’ve got a lot of inspiration, and a lot of passion behind this. We’re living it every day,” Noren said.