Die Mutter (The Mother)
Die Mutter (2016) by Janis Mars Wunderlich has had an extraordinary journey. This figure is so tall and complex, that she broke when I was moving her into the kiln. So, I started from scratch and rebuilt her a second time, and this time I built her directly in the kiln, removing the firebrick rings down to the bottom so I could build without having to move her!
This ceramic sculpture was inspired by the several months I spent in Germany and Europe, where I was able to visit exquisite cathedrals and ponder the role of sacred spaces. When I returned to the US, my state was making legislative changes to women’s rights, and my mind connected the two: women’s bodies as cathedrals- spaces for the sacred. When building this tall, graceful form, I was asking the question: Who does a woman’s body belong to? What forces come together to create life within her womb? What happens physically and emotionally as a woman transforms into a mother?
It was also a delicate time for me, as I was recently divorced, and part of the process was to value (monetarily) my worth in terms of assets/benefits. It was made clear on paper that my 20+ years of mothering/homemaking was economically worth nothing. This made me want to visualize the depth of a nurturing woman’s great power (because the world does not recognize it!)
This mother figure has a rose window for a belly, and creatures flowing through her. She carries some on her head, arms, ankles. She is both architectural and archetypal.
This sculpture has traveled to some wonderful museum exhibitions in the US in the last couple of years. At an exhibition she mysteriously fell from her pedestal and broke into more than a hundred pieces. But I love this piece too much to let her die that way. So, with many tubes of epoxy, I pieced her back together. Though she is not the exact same as she was at the beginning, I love her the same, maybe more since I spent a month piecing her back together, bit by bit. In many ways, she symbolizes my life journey so far. She falls to the dust, but then rises again.
Die Mutter is not for sale due to her history of repair. But she may be exhibited from time to time due.