Shared Breath: Motherhood in the Time of Climate Crisis
Shared Breath: Motherhood in the Time of Climate Crisis, explores environmental grief through a twin-lens investigation: the interconnection of motherhood and climate crisis. Our collective loss in thinking of the Earth as a “mother”—who both provides for humans and should be cared for—has had devastating effects on the planet. My family and I live in New Mexico and these changes have become personal and visceral as we breathe in smoke from the largest wildfire in NM history. We must learn to acknowledge a “shared breath” with our environment. My work explores this interconnection by collapsing the boundaries of the environment with those of the human form. Pyrocumulonimbus clouds, which are created by the heat of wildfires, are coupled with the outlines of my children’s bodies. These works reside in the sublime—there’s a beauty to the form, yet its cause is terrifying. The work aims to seduce the viewer to look at the ramifications of the climate crisis while motivating one to combat it. To begin to heal the earth we must break down our “illusions of separateness” as Naomi Klein states. When I look at my children, I see the beauty of their form, and yet am terrified by the environmental future they will inherit. As the environment impacts my children, they too, have a crushing responsibility to care for a damaged planet.
The word mother is derived from the Greek word “meter, or verse”: that by which anything is measured. My work seeks to mark time. I physically mark the number of days that I’ve been a mother with a pinprick to the print. Through time, the print, and my likeness, is transformed, mirroring how motherhood has transformed me and in turn how we are transforming Earth. To be a mother is to love your child, yet simultaneously to carry the weight and pain of such a role; this is paralleled in the plight of our Mother Earth as well.
1. Days as a Mother, Archival Pigment Print with Pin Pricks, 20”x30”, 2022
2. Mother Love, Archival Pigment Print, 30”x30”, 2022
3. Containment, Archival Pigment Print, 20×30”, 2021
4. Shared Breath II, Archival Pigment Print, 15”x8.5”, 2022
Megan Jacobs is an artist based in New Mexico. Her work explores delicate relationships—the interweaving between two partners in love, the bond of parent and child and the tenuous relationship between humans and the natural world. Jacobs’ work has been exhibited widely and has been part of exhibitions at Aperture Gallery, The FENCE, and the Museum of New Art. Her work has been featured in Musee Magazine, Lenscratch, and Frankie Magazine among others