Viewing motherhood

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I am a daughter, but not a mother. Dorothea Lange’s famously photographed migrant mother had seven children at the age I have none. What I guess is this: once you become a mother, you cannot be impartial, observing life without participating. You are vested, primal. Writer Sarah Black describes a mother’s transformed gloss on reality as her “Terminator Eye,” a fierce and constant vigilance surrounding her children. The experience of motherhood gives a woman access to the full gamut of human feeling (not just the Hallmark part). Jean Sorabella offers a sweetly personal visual tour of mothers and children in art at the Met. To celebrate Mother’s Day, here are more images that capture the complications of motherhood.

Kitschy Italian grandmother, Milton Glaser illustration

Sentimentality vs. nuance

Toll House cookie tin

General Mom—delicious, saccharine nostalgia

Lubalin logos: Marriage, Mother & Child, Families

Herb Lubalin's type "families"

New York Lottery Mother's Day poster

Money, guilt and love mix awkwardly

pregnant Demi Moore Vanity Fair cover © Annie Leibovitz

The mother's body—sacred and profane?

Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun's self-portrait with her daughter; mother-daughter pulp sleaze

Mother-daughter mirroring—relationships and sexuality

"Emmett, Jessie, Virginia" from Sally Mann's "Immediate Family" series, 1989

Artmaking—children as collaborators and challengers

Mary Cassatt, "The Child's Bath"

Tender loving care

Michelangelo's Pietà

Losing a child—a grief to consume the world

"Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange

Careworn yet resigned to endure

"Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother," James McNeill Whistler

At a remove—once we separate, can we know her?

Achilles Rizzoli's "Mother Symbolically Recaptured/The Kathedral"

Her strength of spirit—mother as a cathedral

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