I’m so thrilled to share that I will be attending the Birth and Beyond Conference in London, Ontario, this September. This fabulous new conference has an incredible speaker lineup. If you’re in the area, or in birth-related work, you absolutely need to attend this conference, even for one day! I’m really looking forward to the sessions; what a great opportunity to hear some really renowned professionals!
I’m also excited about the exhibition of the Birth Project at the Conference. This fall I’ve committed to staying within Ontario for the Birth Project bookings, and I’m so pleased that this is the first one to announce. I’ve been in the studio creating a couple new pieces that I hope to share after they’ve made their premier appearance at the Conference.
If you can’t attend the whole conference, there is still an opportunity to see the paintings! Please share the word about my Artist Reception on Friday, Sept 21. I’ll even be giving a brief artist talk about the paintings.
Here are the new pieces I’ve done this year. Below are sizes and titles. They’ve been exhibited at Trust Birth in Nashville, Tennessee, and are currently on their way to Long Beach, California for the American College of Nurse Midwives Annual General Meeting and Expo. Enjoy!
‘There is a light in you
I have fallen into
There is a light in you
I have fallen into, fallen in too
Stop, listen feel
Stop, listen, feel
Stop, listen feel,
Believe, believe’ (Great Lake Swimmers)
‘These are the days of miracle and wonder’ (P. Simon)
‘Our mouths are filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy’
‘And you opened like a flower in the heat,
Your beauty on my eyes, like a masterpiece
Never has skin tasted so sweet.
And you said, oh, I didn’t know, that we could go
So many kisses deep
We were face to face and lips to lips and cheek to cheek
And you said, oh, I didn’t know we could go so many kisses deep’ (A Cohen)
Under the moon, in the great, black night
With no lodestar in sight
And wait for it, there are only two of us now
This great, black night scooped out (and the fire glow)
The darkness rings, listen
The darkness, the darkness rings
Take off your things and listen
The darkness rings’ (S Harmer)
‘All you need is love,
Love is all you need’
I asked myself this question as I drove home from a birth last week. I was particularly curious because this time I knew I was missing that climactic moment of delivery; when in unmedicated births the air is thick with oxytocin, tension finally breaks and there are tears of relief, joy and love. Even in complicated or surgical births this is a magical moment- when parents finally see their child face-to-face, a mother’s pregnancy is done, and waiting is over. As transcendent and euphoric and addictive those minutes are, I know that’s not only it. In this recent birth I regretfully missed that victorious act, yet still I felt bouyant, pulled back to the experience, and truly enjoyed being there for this woman’s labour. Most of the births I have witnessed and attended to I’m tied to by family, love and at least friendship. I care about the mothers, the families, and the babies being born. But still, there’s something about the stories I love to read, the videos and the knowledge I seek. I’m drawn to it magnetically, I want to experience it more. Birth work is a difficult world to live in: long, inconvenient hours, unpredictability, being on call. Too much for me to arrange for regularly with my life of small children. But there’s the feeling that if I was called at the drop of a hat to come to a birth happenening now it would be a resounding YES. And I’m obsessed with it enough that I need to paint it, re-create it to represent all the meaning I find in it. What is it? Why do I think is it so cool?
I think one reason is the rare experience of witnessing the mysterious ‘stripping away’ that often happens in labour. Quite literally, a woman has layers of inhibition fall away like the clothes she often discards as labour progresses. It’s fascinating and moving to watch a woman turn inward, to lose her concern for others and the world around her, to say exactly what she wants, to become attuned to only her own body her baby. It’s an honour to be present for these intimate acts. While it feels a bit voyeuristic to enjoy watching this, it’s also humbling and awesome every time. It’s simply amazing to see a woman’s body perform such a monumental task so gloriously and glow with power and energy as it does in labour. Many women shed their clothing, and it’s that rare we allow people other than lovers/partners/spouses or children to see us nude, especially naked and uninhibited. It’s a wonderful thing! As a figure artist, of course, I love the figure- the body, the human form, the flesh. Sure, artists have more than average opportunity to see people naked, but even models are usually inhibited. A labouring woman is not- and her body is an amazing thing. The extra weight a woman usually puts on in pregnancy is not treated with loathing (hopefully), her curves are magnified and her body is doubly infused with life. She’s created a human being inside her, and the transformative process of brining it forth is happening before your eyes. In a ‘good’ birth, a woman can work with her body to cope with the sensations, to move as it needs to, to bend and stretch and open and release. Being present at a birth means getting to observe things society rarely is privy to- this emerging of a new person, a mother’s body rippling and shining with exertion, her working with or against her physiology, tapping into her animalistic nature, retreating into herself, expressing emotion and feeling openly. It’s really, truly awesome. I need to paint it because I want the world to see that power, that beauty and that strength that a woman has, but I know it needs to be respected and protected in order to emerge in labour. A labouring woman is beautiful, and while most women probably don’t feel glamourous or pretty as they’re moaning, sweating and grunting, I would argue that in fact, they are stunning.
Of course, there’s also the spiritual dimension that I recognize is such a powerful part of birth. Labour and birth time is sacred- it’s set apart, it’s outside of regular time. Often labour starts and a woman continues normal activity until she needs to focus. Once attendants are called or she goes to a center or hospital, it seems to remove from ‘regular’ time. Everything is suspended, and it was once believed (and still is) that as a woman is bringing new life into the world she is hanging between the states of death and life; that she is especially connected to the spiritual realm. No matter what you believe or your religous affiliation, I think this aspect of birth is often unappreciated. I feel that there is a ‘holiness’ surrounding birth, that it’s sacred- of special meaning and honour. We know that we can’t truly control birth, it’s a physiological function but it’s also an experience- one that can shape and change us. We tap into our inmost selves, we rely on God, we listen to our bodies, our hearts and we communicate with a child within us. Many meditate to cope with labour, others re-think their belief system after becoming parents. My personal beliefs cause me to feel birth is a ‘holy ground’, and that we are brought a little closer to God as our hearts are pulled by life forces.
Birth is also simply awesome. To consider what our female bodies do in order to bring forth a child, to think about how we’ve grown a human being, to realize that this new thing is a PERSON….what? Unbelievable. We, women, get to do this- get to grow life. Our pelvises, our breasts, our uteruses are awesome- amazing! Of course, arms and fingers are cool too; I’m pretty captivated by the human body, but women are pretty fantastic.
To be serious, there are so many thing I love about birth. The emotional high. The uniting of mother and child outside the womb, who’ve been together for so long but had to go through a body-and-heart-wrenching process first. The euphoric moment I referred to earlier- when a woman’s work is rewarded and she grasps her child and hugs him to her breast, often sobbing, shocked, ecstatic, stunned. It’s over-the-top, messy and fulfilling. It’s about mystery- the way our bodies are so perfectly designed, the unveiling of the child that’s been so close, but so hidden for months and months. It’s about the mystery of something so basic, so intricate, so uncontrollable but so common. It’s often about the victory over fear, doubt and pain. Of course, and yet unmentioned, it’s that about that strange wrinkled creature who’s head is so soft and breath so intoxicatinly sweet and fruity.
The list goes on, the reasons birth is so profound are numerous. Different people would answer that same question in different ways. But I think this is why I love it. Birth is awesome, and women are great. They mystery, the stripping, and the strength. And of course that incredible climax of reunification…the sweet reward of great patience.
Thanks to publications like Squat
and the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice, my work has gotten a lot of attention this last year. Of course, this has helped with the web press too! I’m so thankful for this kind of reproduction, but there’s still nothing like seeing the real live painting up close, or from across the room. My work is large- life size!- so it really tends to overwhelm or at least impact the viewer with the emotions and ideas I’m trying to convey, and I just don’t know if this translates the same way in print or reproduction. I’d encourage anyone interested in my work to try to see it in person (or any original artwork for that matter!). And the great news is, for those in the United States, I’m personally accompanying my work to a few birth conferences!
Coming up only a few short weeks away in April, is the Trust Birth Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I can’t wait for this Conference, it promises to be amazing! It’s the last time it will be held in the US for several years. Also, it’s super affordable for non-birth workers, with the ‘Parent Track’ option of picking select sessions for $100. Come to Nashville! Come to this fantastic conference, say hello and take in some art at the same time!
Of course, I shouldn’t have to add that I’ve been working like crazy on new paintings, to be debuted at the Trust Birth Conference. Those attending will have first dibs on unexhibited work!
Welcome to 2012! Happy New Year, everyone.
I’m planning some great things for this year!
In the fall of 2011, I attended the first-ever joint CAM/MANA/ACNM conference in Niagara Falls with my large paintings and prints. It was an amazing success, and based on the response there I’ve decided to pursue exhibiting my work at birth and midwifery conferences. I’ve found my audience! It was so validating to hear in person how my work impacted people, so many shared that they could see their life’s work and passions in the paintings. The conference environment was the perfect place for the Project and the paintings really added to the atmosphere. It was all pretty thrilling. I had an awesome time hanging out with Amy Swagman from The Mandala Journey
and meeting some of the organisors of CAM and MANA,and the ACNm. I met so, so many fantastic people.
To see some of the photos from the Conference, click on the links below. There’s even a photo of the amazing Naoli Vinavar with one of my pieces!!
The Birth Project will also be expanding this year. This is in part due to the upcoming exhibition opportunites, but also because some paintings have found…drumroll…new homes! I’m thrilled to share that 4 of the significant pieces have been purchased by loving owners.
So, currently I’m exploring Conference options. I’m already booked to be at the Trust Birth Confrerence
in Nashville Tennessee in April! This is a very exciting opportunity- I’ve heard great things about this conference and am thrilled to be attending.
My next challenge is to find a reasonable way to get my work across the continent. Hint hint, I’m trying to ‘get’ to California. Amazing things happening there! This has been quite the obstacle however, any suggestions are appreciated. The significant challenges are the transportation of the size of my work and the distance. Don’t tell me I can’t do it, though, or I’ll prove you wrong!
And, lastly, Amanda Greavette Fine Art
is now an ‘Artist’ page on Facebook! I’ve finally seperated my personal profile with my professional one- check it out to keep abreast of the daily adventures of life as an artist and….everything else.
This year is shaping up to be a pretty significant one of professional develpment, I’m excited to see where it takes me and the paintings!
The Birth Project
, along with first-time-ever prints and cards of the Birth Project will be displayed at the joint Canadian Association of Midwives and the Midwives Alliance of North America for the North American Midwifery Conference
in Niagara Falls on November 9-12 2011.
This is my first conference, and I’m going both as a vendor and a ‘delegate’, or conference-goer. My paintings will be displayed throughout the conference area, and I will have a table to sell the prints and smaller paintings. What an exciting opportunity!
One of my original paintings will be up for auction at the Live Auction and Dance event.
If you’re going, stop by and say Hi! I’ll have Jethro Vader in tow, and will only charge $.05 to squeeze his succulent thighs. Hoping for an enriching conference experience, and a couple sales would be nice too! I’d love to see some small pieces of the Birth Project go home to hang in midwives, doulas and birth-lovers homes and offices!
Recently I had the honour of being a nominee for the YWCA Women of Distinction awards. I was nominated for the ‘Arts and Culture’ category, and my Birth Project was highlighted, as well as my community involvement with Friends of Muskoka Midwives and La Leche League Leader. I was shocked to hear my name called as the ‘winner’ at the Gala event, as the nominees were highly respected artists with many years on me! How exciting, what an honour and surpise. Thank you to my nominators and to all the amazing women I’m blessed to share my life with!
Click on the image for a larger view.
‘Universal Child’ at Auburn Gallery, 190 Royal Street Gravenhurst
Aug. 27-Sep 9
Opening Aug 26th, 7-9pm
This is my upcoming exhibition, opening on Friday August 26th. I’ve been working on small portraits of children, and I’m excited to exhibit alongside my brother, Matthew. This is the first time he’s displayed his moving photographs of children from his visit to Swaziland.
Matthew is a professional photographer, visit his website here: http://www.mchaloux.com/
Please come by if you’re in the area!
Check it out! I’m featured in the super-cool birthing magazine SQUAT. Click here
to preview the mag and see my work featured, it looks like a great issue! You can also purchase it and other back issues with other fantastic artists.
I’ve uploaded the last two paintings to my account at Fine Art America. To view or purchase a print of ‘The Delivery’ or ‘It’s a Human Thing’, please visit my profile.
Also coming soon, brand new website!