The subject of maternal bond is a loaded one, a chaotic entanglement ripe with both comfort and trauma. We are all born from the same anatomy, but no two experiences are the same. Culturally, how we think about motherhood, the way we picture it, what we include and what we hide reveals just how much we resist its complexity.
In Maternal Sheet, Chicago-based artist Lindley Warren Mickunas creates a haunting examination of co-dependency, generational trauma and the violence placed on female bodies. “I wanted to make work that spoke more to the complicated dynamics found within families, especially families that face various traumas.”
The title Maternal Sheet has many meanings for me, but one of them is the idea that this specific relationship covers everything. It is so instrumental to our being
An udder-like glove squeezing out milk, the tender touch of a child playing with her mother’s hair, the pressure of parental control bearing down upon young shoulders. These images are familiar yet uncomfortable. They describe how family history can have a stronghold on every facet of our lives. Combining staged re-enactments drawn from childhood experiences and documentation of her family, Warren Mickunas navigates revisiting the physical, literal and emotional weight of the mother-daughter relationship. Both trauma and healing are palpable.
“I have a very complicated relationship with my mother that has tainted my entire life. The title Maternal Sheet has many meanings for me, but one of them is the idea that this specific relationship covers everything. It is so instrumental to our being.” Her framing activates this sense of an omnipresent force – immersive, awkward, at times claustrophobic.