Exploring the Weight of Motherhood Through COVID
Story by Sarah McPherson,
Anew exhibition is opening at Co.Lab Gallery & Arts Centre that focuses on the experiences of mothers during the pandemic. The internet is full of stories shared about the sudden halting of the world for the COVID-19 pandemic. For art teacher Ashley Walter, the stories that remained invisible were those of mothers. In March of 2020, Walter herself was on the cusp of beginning her master’s degree in social justice studies—something she’d pursued as a change of pace from her life at home with her two-year-old child. The implementation of stayat-home orders caused Walter to remain at home throughout her studies. Walter’s resulting creative project developed into a collection of artworks exploring the widespread experiences of mothers during the early periods of the pandemic. “I had been thinking about the global unpaid labour of women and the mental load carried by women, mothers, and gender-diverse people,” Walter says about the project. “If women and mothers were experiencing what I was experiencing, it was invisible.” Walter views art as an accessible route to translating women’s experiences, which she says felt locked up in the house. Each piece was created using an object belonging to or chosen by the mothers who shared their stories with Walter. She notes that her role in this series has been to use the objects as catalysts for sharing, and that the stories presented through the works don’t belong to her, but rather to the anonymous mothers who contributed their objects and stories. “I’m hoping that other mothers will be able to find [the exhibition] cathartic,” Walter says, “and that the public will see what has been unseen through ignorance, or willfully ignored.” The exhibition opening is March 3, 7–10 pm at Co.Lab Gallery & Arts Centre, located in Goods & Co. Market, and will run for two weeks during market hours.