the museum of americana

a literary review

Labor and Aesthetics Through the Lens of the Domestic

Traditionally, paintings of domestic scenes have been created by artists who were not part of the life portrayed. In these works, by contrast, the artists depict their domestic lives, not just as still snapshots, but in works that are intimate and illuminating.

 

Sarah Buckius: Hidden Mothers: Re-& Enactment of Emotional Labor, Video, 2020-2021

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Mothers go to extraordinary lengths for their children. For “Hidden Mother Photography” in Victorian times, shutter speeds were sometimes up to 30 seconds long so mothers would hide within the picture to hold their children still. Mothers revealed and concealed themselves, in order to create a “permanent document” of their children’s “identities”. This emotional labor is considered “invisible labor” because it is unpaid, undervalued, and often goes unnoticed in our culture. Instead of concealing their identity, I propose that the emotional labor these mothers perform actually REVEALS much about their identity–their ingenuity, inventiveness, commitment, and emotional labor and strength. My “moving portrait of emotional labor” pictures the process of photographic portraiture. I reenact their labor, along with enacting my own, as I pay tribute to the unpaid “hidden” labor of mothers that is performed universally, continually, unfailingly, throughout the world, thus monumentalizing it as collective and “visible.”

 

Eavan McNeil: American Dream, Photograph on Kodak Ektar 100, 2021

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I came to visit my family just a month after they moved from Los Angeles to the suburbs of Nebraska. It was August, and my 16-year-old sister was miserable. Halfway through high school and thoroughly a Southern Californian, I wanted to document her transition into living in “America’s Heartland”. In these photographs, my sister decided to wear her favorite dress, right in the middle of a hot, rural Nebraskan apple orchard. Her expression explains it all.

Eavan McNeil: The Cuckoo Is a Pretty Bird, Digital Photograph, 2021

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The Cuckoo Is a Pretty Bird are two photos from my larger work Dead Girl of the Year. This work was the beginning of a large artistic goal to explore female suffering through the paradigms of American folk ballads—here, the centuries-old tune of the “The Cuckoo.” I have come to obsess over the trope of the mad, abandoned woman sung so often about in these haunting songs, and what they can mean for female healing.

 

Marina Burana: Gathering, acrylic on paper, 2021 (previously published in sprylit.com)

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These paintings are part of a body of work inspired by the poem “Dedication for Moremi” by Wole Soyinka. There is an intimacy that I try to explore in a mixture of cultures that surfaces in everyday life, deeply linked to a constant becoming and rewriting of ways and history.

Marina Burana: Three aunts, acrylic on paper, 2021

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sarah_buckius_portrait copy (1)Sarah Buckius is an artist/educator living in Northern California. Her recent lens-based artwork involves “performances for the camera” captured by still and moving images. These “Intertwined HerStories” interweave histories of women from the early 1900s with her own experiences as a mother. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. 

 

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MARINA BURANA copy (1)Marina Burana is a painter and a writer from Argentina based in Taiwan. She is also a puppeteer and a facilitator of participatory community art projects. She studied at the Art Students League of New York and holds a BFA (Painting Major) from Taipei National University of the Arts. IG: @burana_studio

 

 

 

 

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Eavan McNeilEavan McNeil is a current undergraduate splitting their time between Western Massachusetts and Nebraska. They are inspired by a marriage of American folk history and the “phototherapy” work of the late Jo Spence in order to explore and heal from painful memory.

 

 

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