It seems everyone has an opinion about how women should behave after having children. Society has placed us in roles that we are expected to fulfill and we assume this will make our lives easier, but in fact, it serves only to place restrictions on our freedoms.
As an artist living in Brooklyn, New York, Hein Koh has seen how common discrimination against women remains, especially for ones pursuing their artistic expression. She has stated that she is “sick of all the prejudice towards motherhood in the art world.”
Koh wanted to provide an example for aspiring female artists and was inspired to do so by recent comments made by Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramovic, who is well-known for an exhibit where she eye gazes with strangers. Abramovic has spoken openly about how having children is a barrier to success:
I had three abortions because I was certain that it would be a disaster for my work. One only has limited energy in the body, and I would have had to divide it. . . . In my opinion that’s the reason why women aren’t as successful as men in the art world. There’s plenty of talented women. Why do men take over the important positions? It’s simple. Love, family, children—a woman doesn’t want to sacrifice all of that.
This is an extremely discouraging statement to any woman who wants both a family and a successful career, especially when it’s coming from a successful female artist.
“Men are allowed to have kids and still be taken seriously as artists, but when women have kids, people just assume their ambition and creativity will be compromised,” Koh observed. “Sure, there are compromises and sacrifices, but everyone’s situation is different and where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
In fact, she believes that because she has had her fraternal twin girls, Amelia and Oneida, she is experiencing new emotions that have made her work more layered, complex, and interesting.
The photo was taken last May by her husband, Jim Horowitz, while Hein breastfed the twins, who were only 5 months old at the time.
Her full post reads:
#tbt 5/19/15 when my #twins were 5 weeks old and despite the sleep deprivation and frequent (every 2-3 hours, 24-7, 45 min at a time) #breastfeeding, I was still getting shit done. #MarinaAbramovic thinks children hold women back in the art world, but as @dubz19 put so aptly, “FUKKK THAT”. All Marina knows is her own experience, and it may be true for her, but that is not everyone’s experience nor truth. Becoming a #mom (of twins no less) has personally helped me become a better #artist – I learned to be extremely efficient with my time, prioritize what’s important and let go of the rest, and #multitask like a champ. I learned to function (even if barely) on very little sleep, and out of the chaos, insanity and even torture at times, a flood of new emotions entered into my work, becoming more interesting & layered as a result. I’m also not saying that artist parents are better artists than non-parent artists, or that choosing not to be a parent will deny you access to these learning experiences. What I am saying is that parenting is like any other challenge in life – the biggest fucking challenge in my own life thus far – and if you embrace it and figure out creative solutions, you can emerge a better person. It’s important to think about the ways in which these challenges can help you move forward, rather than hold you back. #artistmom #tandembreastfeeding #multitasking #heinkoh #greenpoint #brooklyn #nyc
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