Overcome – Infertility and Motherhood

McKenna Woolleyart, motherhood

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“Overcome” – Motherhood Series of 7 – Painting One
Acrylic and Pastel on Rives BFK paper on wood panel
20×20 inches

This is the first of 7 paintings on Motherhood I have completed. I felt impressed to do this one first and upon finishing I found out that it was National Infertility Awareness Week. With this I pay my consideration to all those who are faced with infertility.

The Background:  
In this series I wanted to explore all aspects of motherhood that reach beyond what can be viewed from the outside as “motherhood.” I believe all women are mothers whether the fruition of that role is physically played out in this life or not.

There are many, many women out there who are not yet mothers to physical children on this earth. There are many who have had a child or a few children even, and wish to add to their families and yet cannot.  There’s a longing, a desperation found in the souls of women, many desiring to fulfill what is an innate yearning. A yearning that is lost and empty to them, unfulfilled, hollow.

The Symbolism:
In this series, all are done on a square panel. Each piece depicts many symbols that are significant across many cultures and religions. In each square I’ve superimposed a circle. For each painting the circle or Enso will mean varying things depending on color, placement and application.

– The circle is sacred and divine, often a symbol for the woman, earth, eternity, or the womb. A union between heaven and earth.
– The square is often symbolic of Christ or of the man, a symbol for stability, unity, balance, the four elements, four cardinal directions, four phases of humanity. In Islam the square is a symbol for the heart.
– Seven is a symbol of perfection, the days of Creation, the eternities.

The Interpretation: 
In this piece of my series the circle can be viewed as a representation of the woman, the womb, the dark side of the earth or a new moon. The circle is not entirely visible or complete, it’s either hidden or faded. The circle though white and hopeful, is worn and unpolished, surrounded by dark ultramarine and indigo; blues so dark they’re nearly black. The borders are inconsistent and in some areas disconnected from the square. The center a chasm of dark matted blue. The luminosity is flat, an entire absence of sheen is found on the surface.

The Experiences:
I was able to speak to a dear friend who I greatly admire on so many levels. She is open about her experiences and emotions facing infertility and uses her voice as a means for coping. Infertility is a very personal and difficult subject, but because of her openness she has been able to find she is not alone in the trial. At many times she has been able to be a comforter to those around her who struggle. These are her words about the reality of infertility:

“The hardest part about infertility is the unknown. Often diving into something [In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)] that may not result in anything or have any reward.”

“I try hard to avoid the bitterness. Bitterness is such a trap. Trying to not let it overcome me. Hearing, ‘oh, I’m pregnant again,’ like it took no effort can be really hurtful. Allowing the bitterness, it really will drag you down. I have to remember, every one is going to continue to live their lives, and have their families. They will continue on and I need to be okay with that.”

“Knowing that your family is not complete and there is nothing you can do about it. Knowing that all you want is to have a child, and it’s the one thing you have entirely no control over.”


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