Care and Feeding: The Art of Parenthood

Exhibition dates: September 15December 30, 2018
Opening Celebration: September 14, 2018, 7-10 p.m.


Barbie Girl

Rania Matar, Barbie Girl, 2006, from the series Ordinary Lives, archival pigment print, courtesy of the artist


This exhibition explores the unique questions artists face, from both internal and external forces, when they become parents. It is our challenge to the once pervasive conception that artists cannot be dedicated to their creative work while raising a family.

Any type of generalization in reference to parenthood is problematic. The emotions, circumstances, challenges, and benefits involved are far too complex. What we can speak to, and what we hope this exhibition highlights, is the mosaic of issues and opportunities that arise for artists when they become parents, and the intimate, poignant, and illuminating work which results.

Artists often feel as if they are what they create. When what is created is a child, however, a paradoxical and staggering loss of self can result. Less time in the studio, less time alone, the pressures of domesticity—all of these can contribute to a dramatic re-consideration of what it means to be creative. Using humor and often including his children in his work, Alberto Aguilar has gracefully found ways to blend his home life with his art practice. Children have a marvelous ability to touch everything, and parents have an innate capacity to receive their children into their lives completely. For artists Lenka Clayton and Rebecca Silberman, documenting this process of integration is their vehicle for expression.

There are subtle ways the art world remains difficult for artists who have children. Very few residencies allow artists to bring their partners and children along, and those that do are highly competitive. These artists are often overlooked for opportunities because it is assumed they will not have the time. And the reduction in creative output that often accompanies having children can be interpreted as a failure to thrive by peers.

But artists are not the only ones who face challenges when it comes to navigating a professional life while maintaining a healthy sense of self. Realizing the right balance, and finding strength within it, is a universal endeavor. Whether we are parents or not, we can all find inspiration in the union of personal and professional, intimate and formal, that these works of art represent.

Curated by Selene Foster and Andrea Antonaccio


Participating artists to date:

Pilar Aguero-Esparza Alberto Aguilar Lenka Clayton
Tara Donovan Jeremiah Jenkins  Rania Matar  
Jill Miller   Hilary Pecis Claudette Schreuders
Lezley Saar Manjari Sharma & Irina Rozovsky Rebecca Silberman
Tabitha Soren Josephine Taylor   

Being Human: A Social Practice Artwork and Workshop Residency with Artist Jill Miller 

SeptemberDecember, 2018

Body Configurations

Jill Miller, Body Configurations, 2014


BEING HUMAN is an experimental, collaborative project between the Art Center, artist Jill Miller, and 10 San Francisco Bay Area artists who are also parents. Participants will use their parenting struggles and challenges as a catalyst for producing art. They will meet once each week for eight weeks, and each week’s activities will be inspired by one of Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development. Followed consecutively, these stages trace the complete life span of a human being.

This workshop residency and social practice artwork will take place at the Palo Alto Art Center and is organized in conjunction with the exhibition Care and Feeding: The Art of Parenthood (September 15 – December 30, 2018). 


Participating artists include: Alexandra BailliereElizabeth BernsteinBenicia Gantner, Karen Ficke Hathaway, Amy Hibbs, Jenny HynesRobin Mullery, Ashley Lauren Saks, Trevor Tubelle, and Vanessa Woods.


We will be updating the Being Human website as the residency progresses. 



Porchlight: Because I Said So...stories about parenting 

Thursday, November 1, 2018, 7-9 p.m.


Join us as the Art Center and Palo Alto Public Art join forces with San Francisco’s longest-running storytelling series, Porchlight, to present five accomplished storytellers and two audience members who will share their tales of parenting from the frontlines. Hosted by Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte, guest speakers will include Moon Zappa, Susie Bright, Jeremiah Jenkins, and Bayo Omololu. The free event, Porchlight: Because I Said So…Stories About Parenting, ties in with the Art Center’s current exhibition, Care and Feeding: The Art of Parenthood, which runs through December 30. Click the link below for more information. Pictured from left: Arline Klatte and Beth Lisick. Photo by Ann Sullivan, courtesy of Porchlight. Cash bar provided by the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation.


Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte              


Patrick Dougherty: Whiplash 


“My affinity for trees as a material seems to come from a childhood spent wandering the forest around Southern Pines, North Carolina. . .When I turned to sculpture as an adult, I was drawn to sticks as a plentiful and renewable resource.”  —Patrick Dougherty

Whiplash, 2016, by North Carolina Artist Patrick Dougherty was created during a three-week artist residency. His sustainable willow material came from upstate New York, and was shaped in a process similar to basketry, but which the artist describes as akin to drawing. Patrick has created more than 275 monumental, site-specific sculptures on the grounds of museums, universities, botanical gardens, and private residences worldwide. His compelling sculptures evoke woodland architecture or gargantuan nests.

Whiplash was supported by the Palo Alto Art Center, the Palo Alto Public Art Program, and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation, with support from William Reller, Pat Bashaw and Eugene Segre, Catharine and Dan Garber, Barbara Jones, Nicki and Pete Moffat, Nancy Mueller, Anne and Craig Taylor, the Acton Family Fund, and more than 40 community donors to the Foundation’s first crowd funding initiative.