Parenthood as Art: Domestic Territories exhibit opens this Saturday

Fairfax gallery exhibit Domestic Territories promises an eye-opening look at what it means to be a parent March

By Meghan Meier and Jenny Cutler Lopez

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Courtesy of Olly Olly

Parenthood is a common topic in artwork, but it is rarely formally recognized according to Sarah Irvin, guest curator for Fairfax art gallery Olly Olly’s newest exhibition, Domestic Territories. The show featuring eight local artists highlights the convergence of parent and child relationships, the evolution of personal boundaries and sharing space in a household. The show promises to entice attendees with the use of multiple mediums that includes painting, photography, site-specific installations and interactive sculpture. “I hope to encourage artists making work about parenthood and challenge new artists to pursue these topics in their work,” says Irvin. 

The topic of parenthood was something both Jessica Kallista, founder of Olly Olly, and Irvin believed deserved more focus. 

For Edgar Endress, associate professor at George Mason University and an artist in the exhibit, Domestic Territories is about generating critical discussion. “We have a tendency to dismiss artists while they are actively raising their children instead of using this experience as a productive resource,” he says.

Courtesy of Edgar Endress

For his piece, Endress will demonstrate how his son, Ian, establishes his personal space using his toys. Endress created an installation with 1,200 children’s toys that will be hung from the gallery’s ceiling. “For him, toys become a source of emancipation and a passage into a new persona that leads to independence, growth and new knowledge” Endress says. “I am using the toys to claim space, but they will be on the ceiling. This rethinks the concept of creating territory for an individual and transforms the conversation into a discussion about mass consumption, the plastic material of the toys and consumerism.”   

As a mother and artist, Megan Wynne sees the exhibition as a way to capture those split-second moments that can define the intimate interaction between parent and child. Although she is a multimedia artist, her work has primarily involved photography since she became a mother. 

For Wynne, photography is purposeful, and it allows her to show the relationship between her and her children. In her images, Wynne seeks out spaces that are symbolic and natural-looking. “My work is about the relationship of a mother with her children and the personal space we occupy together” Wynne says. “It is primarily the private domestic space, the home, where the relationship gets expressed more freely than outside of the home, and the relationship is symbolically represented by the space and objects in the home.”  

Domestic Territories will be on view through March 31. The opening reception will be held on March 5 from 7-10 p.m.