Searching out inspiring city gardens has become a new hobby for me this summer, and my current favorite is located between 24th and 25th and Locust Streets. It's called "Here, Mothers Are" and, through research, I learned it's a collaborative project between artist Sonja Thomsen, storyteller Adam Carr, members of the Amani neighborhood and the city of Milwaukee.
Over the course of three months, Thomsen and Carr interviewed women and families in their living rooms who were connected to the Dominican Center for Women (which is across the street). The theme of the installation is motherhood, and their statements inspired large photographs and a small billboard of text that stand in a previously vacant lot that was converted to a park-like atmosphere with raised flower beds and benches.
The photos and words depict many different mom-related experiences. In one of the photos, for example, a woman holds a picture of her dead mother. The word mural features statements from the interview that are both sad ("I was always the one in the mother role and she was always the one in the little girl role") and heartwarming ("Every big moment my grandmother was there and I got a picture to prove it"). I particularly liked the large photos of window dressings – some of which I speculated were from the bedrooms of mothers' bedrooms.
Photographs also cover the windows of a house next door, reminding me a little bit of the mind-blowing Heidelberg Project in Detroit that I had the chance to visit in April.
Throughout the spring and summer there were numerous events held in the garden, but on the day we spontaneously visited, the space, and the neighborhood for that matter, was very quiet. This gave me the chance to really absorb the words and images and also to think about my own mom – and about myself as a mother to my children.
"Here, Mothers Are" is a temporary installation; check it out soon if you can.
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