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The MAN Festival Day 1 – Guest Editor Vivienne Rogis

After introducing the Mother Artist Network (MAN) to BIG readers almost a year ago we are happy at last to kick off the first of our mini week-long festivals that will become a regular feature on the blog.  Here we introduce Vivienne Rogis  who has been a WONDER in working with us as guest editor for this inaugural mini MAN festival. We hope you enjoy this window into the lives and insights of the inspired mother artists featured here each day this week. Over to you Viv!

There is a growing rumble as we highlight, through communication and story, the gap between the ideal of a woman’s ability to ‘have it all’ or make their own choices in life and a lag in social structures and thinking to effectively support this.

I am an independent dance artist, perpetual student/researcher and a mother of two boys (ages 3&6).

Six years ago the birth of my first child fractured my being in unexpected, delightful and difficult directions. At that time my academic and creative life were moving along well together, feeding into each other, and I had achieved some of my life goals in art and learning. Surely then, I was ready for the next goal in my life to occur, or so I thought.

Intellectually, as I began my journey through motherhood, I understood that there would be adjustments to make, but I had not expected the wholesale deep change that occurred.  Most overwhelming for me, post birth, was the immediate shift in my understanding of myself and time. The time it would take to be a parent and the overwhelming responsibility and desire to be that parent clashed with the undiminished need to continue as advocate, artist and researcher of dance. My transition to mother artist was by no means an elegant one. I complained about and fought the sudden re-evaluation of my artistic self for quite a while. But in the process I learned a lot about what was important and where my limits were.  Parenting a child is one of the most unflattering and educative mirrors to yourself that I have ever experienced, but what the mirror shows up, the process of parenting and continuing in arts practice refines and shapes.

It’s messy, awkward and incredibly wonderful!
Making work about being a mother was not the way I responded to the role of mother artist but I have found watching the boys process, and participate in, what mummy does, with joy, fascination and a healthy dose of frustration.  As they interrupt, demand and divide my focus they share generously of themselves and offer new perspectives on well-trodden pathways in my dance practice.  I have made choices that have lead me in new directions and made new connections that are both exciting and fulfilling. Working locally, accepting sudden changes in the best made plans, structuring and re-structuring projects to find the best possible mode of working and allowing time to expand so that I can fit everything in have been the routine of my arts practice. You can view a glimpse of my recent dance-film project here. And as a small exercise in self-observation I created a couple of videos in order to more consciously see how I have woven my family and dancing lives together through preparation and physical practice.

Bravery is … believing in yourself.

Imagination is … making the intangible real.

Generosity is … an open heart.

Connection with stories and experiences of other mother artists has been instrumental in maintaining the momentum and I am so very glad to have connected with Jo and Lilly through the MAN and their fabulous BIG magazine. I also want to acknowledge the work of Rachel Power in her book The Divided Heart – Art and Motherhood, as another key supporter and driver of my current passion to research and advocate for mother artists.
Each Mother Artist has a unique context and way of making the most of their twin selves and I am really looking forward to hearing the diverse stories and sharing in the common experiences of each mother artist who contributes to the Mother Artist Network. These stories are not just important for us but for everyone as an insight into an area of arts practice not usually discussed in open forums. Let the discussion begin!

The Mother Artist Network (MAN) is an initiative of Jo Pollitt and Lilly Blue and BIG Kids Magazine. This inaugural mini MAN Festival has been curated in collaboration with guest editor and mother artist extraordinaire Vivienne Rogis to whom we are so grateful! 
The Mother Artist Network is a place that invites BIG ideas and discussion about creative practice and motherhood. Through a forum of ongoing blog posts the MAN will feature voices of mother-artists at all stages of artistic engagement and motherhood.  We very much hope you will contribute to the conversation by commenting below or emailing us at [email protected] to add your story to the mix.  

on Nov 4, 2012