Friday, May 16, 2008
Last night I attended an opening night event for Mampalooza, an arts conference and festival celebrating motherhood. The room was filled with an array of supporters from members of the Association for Research on Mothering (part of York University in Toronto), to Alana Ruben Free who publishes the Mom Egg Literary Journal to entrepreneurs, musicians, artists and writers. And of course in their midst, floating across the room was the always outrageous, outspoken and punkishly glamorous Joy Rose, founder of Mamapalooza (who also writes the "Living Loud w/Joy Rose" column on The Lohasian).
The energy in the room was filled with the raw excitement of creativity as women readily exchanged business cards and discussed projects and business' - in many ways a typical networking event. But what made this event unique, and the events that follow this weekend in NYC, is less the fact that these women happen to be mothers but that they are women who celebrate themselves as fully expressed individuals in light of the challenges of motherhood. For some motherhood is the very subject of exploration in their creative work. For others creativity is nurtured in, and manifested through, parts of oneself that are totally separate of their identity as a mother. The beauty of what Mamapalooza represents is that mothers are to be self defined instead of socially defined, and allows for each women to discover her own individual self - separate of social constructs.
Mampalooza somehow manages to marry the experience of an arts event into both a celebration of womanhood and yet a clear protest against traditional notions of what motherhood has represented for much of this century. It asks mothers to quit the guilt, abandon the image of effortless mothering, and discard martyrdom that has long been associated with motherhood and instead embrace ones own identity and creative soul - simply for the sake of self. There is nothing "PC" about Mamapalooza, nothing "warm and fuzzy" and nothing sentimental - it is spiritual punk motherhood, and its coming to a town near you.
Speaking to Joy Rose at last night's event it becomes clear that her agenda for Mamapalooza is far beyond simple entertainment and good fun - she is on a mission to liberate moms...and somehow pick up on what you can tell she believes feminism left behind; symbols of feminism post childbirth. It's the conversation for women who are not fighting the glass ceiling but engaging in the battle between self expression and play dates.
MAMAPALOOZA, founded in 2002, is in fact the only festival of its kind that celebrates mothers in the arts, and inadvertently honors with its unique brand of edginess and irreverence the unique spiritual and creative energy of mothers. During the month of May on stages across America, Canada and Australia, in print and on radio, women join together to raise their voices.This weekend over 20 premier venues in NYC alone will present internationally-acclaimed talent, drawing hundreds of artists, businesses and speakers/presenters.
For more information and full event listing on Mamapalooza go to their SITE