The ART of Infertility: Navigating the Journey of Infertility through Art
An article called, “ProCreation: Women Share Stories of Infertility Through Artwork” was recently published in the Washingtonian, a monthly magazine distributed in the Washington D.C. area. http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/wellbeing/news/procreation-women-share-stories-of-infertility-through-artwork.php
I read the article about an exhibit called “The ART of IF”, a space for people with fertility issues to express themselves through art. Elizabeth Walker is the curator of the exhibit. She is a photographer and in her moments of sadness and frustration while trying to get pregnant, started to communicate her feelings through art. She first shared her creations with her family and friends, finding a different and easier way to share the deepness of her struggles. The idea was well accepted by them and then within her fertility community so she organized an exhibit called “The ART of IF: Navigating the Journey of Infertility” in Jackson, Michigan. The exhibit is now travelling the country and will be in Washington DC on May 15, 2015.
I was fascinated by the idea! Why had nobody thought of this before? I looked at the website and found her telephone number and called her. I asked her tell me a little bit more about her experience and she said, “I’ve been dealing with infertility for more than 6 years. I began creating artwork as a way to deal with the emotions surrounding my infertility and to have a visual representation of what I was going through. I needed something tangible that would document my personal history and help describe it to others. Sharing my story helped me accept it. I wanted to do something to help raise infertility awareness in my community and approached the Ella Sharp Museum about hosting an Infertility art exhibit. It just took off from there!”
She went on to tell me that project has been on display 6 times, had 7 programming events, and documented over 50 interviews in the past year. She first wanted to raise awareness; however, the amazing thing is that there is a community being built through this project and through the support of the people involved. Not surprisingly, healing becomes an important facet of this initiative. With the help of her project partner, Maria Novotny, and a network of volunteers, she hosts art therapy and writing workshops, introduces people with similar diagnoses, and helps connect them to resources that will help them build their families. She feels honored that people have decided to share their stories with her and she feels that it has been crucial to her grieving process.
In order for the project to be sustainable, Elizabeth explained that they need to start getting funding via Kickstarter and sponsor money until they are able to get donations and do fundraisers when they get their non-profit organization status (called 501(c) in the US).
(Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding platform based in New York. Their mission is to “help bring creative projects to life”.)
The kickstarter project:
What an excellent idea and what a wonderful way to reach out to others struggling with infertility! We wish Elizabeth and all the volunteers the best of luck with the exhibit in DC and all their projects.
Check out the website to learn more: http://www.artofinfertility.org/main.php#!/info/about