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Mothers nurture artwork, gallery showcases their

Chaos. Romping, boisterous, perpetual chaos. Not exactly the typical mood for an art gallery. But maybe that’s because an art gallery isn’t a typical place for a gaggle of rugrats.

The first UNF Gallery of Art opening was Sept. 17 this semester, featuring the works of four artist-mothers from Savannah. The subject of their exhibition “Four Squared” focuses on their experiences making art amidst the madness of raising young children — all of which were in attendance. The seven children, ranging in age from two to five years old, ran, jumped, yelled and rolled around under the table, making for a fittingly loud and lively occasion.

Between dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, preparing food, driving the kids around and all the other responsibilities of motherhood, these four remarkable women somehow found personal time for creativity.

“I paint on the weekends and sometimes in the morning,” Linette Dubois, one of the artist-mothers said. “I have to squeeze it in whenever I can.”

Having their time so divided has taught these women a lot about living in the moment.

“It puts time in a different perspective,” displaying artist Ashley Waldvogel said. “It’s all about them and being confronted with that constant change, and trying to hold on to this, here, now.”

Time is not the only battle these mothers face, they also struggle with the idea of perfection.

“We all want to be perfect mothers to our children,” artist- mother Melinda Schawel said. “But that is an impossible task. We have to recognize and accept our imperfections.”

Artist Atsuko Smith not only chose her five-year-old daughter as her subject but also as her collaborator. Smith’s exhibition features a series of three large oil paintings of her daughter, who adorned the images of herself with bright-colored “nail polish” and Japanese cartoon characters.

UNF junior and graphic design major and gallery assistant Barbara Georges was busy serving wine and beer (for free) to the guests.

“I like the concept of motherhood as a subject,” Georges said. “It is almost excluded in art.”

Travis Flack, a UNF senior photography major, also showed his appreciation for the exhibition.

“They have a very different approach to portraying similar lives,” Flack said. “It is a very eclectic mix of styles.”

The works range from oil paintings to collages, photographs to shadow boxes. The clever creators incorporate fire engines, berries, greeting cards, cut-up children’s art, the ABCs, etched glass and much more. The art is not only fun for the eyes to play with — it gives the mind a more tangible encounter with the hectic and miraculous nature of existence.

The exhibition will be on display until Oct 16. in the University Gallery, Building 2.

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