Imaginary Landscapes: “My House in Motherhood” by Alysia Finger (2013)

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Motherhood changes everything. My house serves as an exaggerated example of what happens to one’s life when preferences and best intentions are sacrificed and what is left shows a person’s top priorities. My room is a wreck. My house is a wreck. But when I step into my daughter’s room the mess feels lighter and my nagging thoughts and “to-dos” can fade away, letting a sense of whimsy surface.

This created landscape serves to represent the stark contrast between rooms in my house. A grim, overloaded view of my bedroom trickles into a bright, colorful glimpse of the space I keep for my daughter. My bed is unkempt and my dresser left agape. Miscellaneous items ranging from shoes to coffee mugs are scattered around the base of the bed, leaving only a narrow path to enter and exit the bed. The clutter makes way to a different kind of mess. Splashes of color cover the floor and furniture of my daughter’s room, representing the youth and creativity felt when in the presence of small children.

There are 135 pieces total in this scene, 115 in my room, and 20 in my daughter’s. My pre-pregnancy weight was 135 lbs; I lost 20 lbs after giving birth; and I am left at 115 lbs. Each small object in the rooms come in multiples of three. Three is a pretty wonderful number aesthetically, but it is also representative of the number of people that make up my family. More importantly, three is the number of comfort dolls I bought for my daughter before she was born. I heard that children get upset if they lose their favorite toy, so it is best to have an extra — I bought two extras to be prepared. We now have three “Boo”s (tiny monster dolls) in my house so my daughter never gets lonely.

My choice of materials brings the viewer back to a sense of sacrifice: cereal boxes and frozen dinner boxes are used for the boards, and old bras that no longer fit my changed body are used for the fabric. I have given up my intentions to make fresh, home cooked meals for my family, leaving me with a near endless supply of food packaging. My body has changed so drastically that I feel I will never go back to my old shape, thus those bras become useless to me.

The choice of a white background gives the audience a surreal sense of focus on the items in this landscape. The christmas lights in the back create a common thread throughout the piece, contributing to additional spontaneity to my daughter’s room while contributing even more clutter in my room. Christmas lights lend themselves to a feeling of home and family, and they are also the primary source of lighting in my low-budget home.

I wanted to share my feelings of frustration and confusion with what certain aspects of my environment and routine have become, but I also wanted to take them on the reprieve I get when playing with my 10-month-old daughter, who brings a new and fantastic sort of chaos to my life.

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