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RISD presents: On the See-Saw: Women Balancing Family, Art and Career

Every year Rhode Island School of Design’s Office of Multicultural Affairs plans a week of programming that focus on women.

Who Does She Think She is filmThis year, Women’s Focus Week will include a film screen and panel discussion highlighting the topic of motherhood and the challenges women face in balancing work and family responsibilities. Given that many laws, organizational policies, and social customs in the United States still rely on a traditional family model of a stay at home mother and working father, working women–and especially single parents–face many hardships. In this series, RISD hopes to give voice to female artists and designers who face many tough decisions, including if and when to start a family while building a career, how to divide time between childrearing and studio practice, and the societal stigmatization of working mothers and women’s art.

I recently saw this film and although I relate to it in part because I used to make my living as an artist I believe this film and panel discussion will be of interest to any mother struggling to balance work and family responsibilities.

Film Screening: Who Does She Think She Is?
Wednesday, March 24, 6:30 pm
RISD Auditorium, 17 Canal St. Providence, RI
Featured Guest: Angela Williams
Free, Open to the Public

“From the producing team, that won an Academy Award for Born Into Brothels, Who Does She Think She Is? examines some of the most pressing issues of our time: parenting and creativity, partnering and independence, economics and art. The film follows five women artists as they navigate the challenges of making work outside the elite art world.” After the film, Angela Gonsalves (a performing artist featured in the film) will discuss her experiences and answer questions.

Panel Discussion: From Her Perspective: Narratives of Work and Family
Thursday, March 25, 7-8:30, Reception to follow
Chace Center, Metcalf Auditorium, 20 North Main St. Providence, RI
Free, Open to the Public

Guest panelists Mairead Byrne, Gail Cohee, Lucinda Hitchcock, Wendy Edwards, Deana Lawson, and Keita Turner will discuss how gender and parenthood affect career and family life, especially for women in art and design. The panel will be co-moderated by Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino, professor of psychology and Ariel Bordeaux, artist and mother.


Wanda & Daughters
Photo by Deana Lawson, MFA ‘04

WendyEdwards_MixUp RISD

Wendy Edwards, Brown Dept. of Visual Art

Mairead Byrne RISD

Mairead Byrne (with her daughters), RISD English Deptartment

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  • A belated note of thanks for blogging about this event. I’d seen the film last year as well, and as in Julie’s note above, I’m also an artist mom, hoping for more answers. But just getting out of my own four walls and hearing from successful, thoughtful, creative women, who are achieving a sort of balance, was invaluably inspiring. Were it not for the listing in Kidoinfo, I would not have known about this event. Thank you again.

  • p.s. A book that had no answers but helped me at least feel I wasn’t alone was “A Question of Balance”, a collection of interviews of artist and writer moms edited by Judith Pierce Rosenberg.

  • Saw the film last year and, as an artist/mom, had ridiculously high hopes of having the question answered, “How the hell are we supposed to make this all work?”. It didn’t have the answers or even ask the same questions, but I’m glad it continues to spark good discussions that might allow us an answer or two when our daughters ask us, “How the hell are we supposed to make this all work?”.

  • Hi Anisa,
    So glad RISD OMA is screening this. We had this on the 2/25 screening for our Soul at Work for women leaders. Also, last year the Women’s Fund of RI first screened this in RI and Angela with Mary Kim Arnold as one of the panelist.

    One of the clear messages is about grappling with expectations society (and ourselfs) have about our roles as mothers and the need women have to have creative work. Of course there are other issues fundamental about how others are not ready to let go of keeping women as the default primary care giver. As I watched Harriet James and the issues of domanance and reliance of slaves to provide careing for house, family, and farm of the plantation owners; I wonder now about this free-care women provide and a society that really doesn’t count it.

    Riane Eisler, also in the film, gives compelling evidence of how we need to reassess our policies about work, raising a family, and what we “count” in this economy. Of course the women’s stories help to image the scope of this bias our century still has about women and work.

    I hope to be there on 3/24, but definately 3/25.