On view: January 14 – June 18, 2023
Location: Special Project Gallery, Floor 2

Mothers are the people in our lives who nurture, support, care for and love us.  We tend to associate them with ideals of the home, cooking, nursing, and other imagery of taking care of children–and this has been reinforced through visual representations of mothers throughout the history of art. However, a biological mother doesn’t always fulfill this role. For many of us, “mother figures” fill that role in our lives and serve as surrogates or in addition to our biological mothers. These figures can be other relatives, such as grandmothers, aunts or sisters. They may also come from the families that we build around ourselves. 

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Roger Shimomura, American Muse

2017, Lithograph on paper, 28 × 27 in. Reifschlager Fund. 2019.3.1

Charles Schreyvogel, The Last Drop

Cast 1903, Bronze, 12 × 18 × 5 in. Rockwell Foundation. 83.30 F

Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Doe with Two Fawns by Dark Forest

1874, Oil on board, 10 × 14 in. Gift of Robert F. Rockwell, Jr. 78.69 F.

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Romare Bearden, Family (Mother and Child)

1980, Color screenprint on paper, 21 × 16 3/4 in. Clara S. Peck Fund. 2021.4.1

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Preston Singletary, Wakefulness

2016, Glass, hair, steel, 21 1/2 × 21 × 6 in. Museum Purchase with Funds Donated by James B. Flaws and Marcia D.Weber. 2016.4a-b.

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Clare Leighton, Hop Pickers

1930, Wood engraving on paper, 8 1/2 × 10 1/2 in. Clara S. Peck Fund. 2022.9

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Rosalie Favelle, Navigating by Our Grandmothers

2000, Iris Giclee print on paper, 32 × 32 in. Clara S. Peck Fund. 2000.24.

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Abastenia St. Leger Eberle, Little Mother

Modeled 1907, cast 1911, Bronze, 13 × 3 3/4 × 3 3/4 in. Museum Purchase with funds from the Silver Dollar Society. 2017.13.

A mother figure does not have to identify or present as a woman. We may feel nurtured in the same way by anyone who is a member of our community, a role model or a teacher. This figure may not even be a person. We may find nurturing through a deity or belief system.  

Who is a mother figure to you? Are you a mother figure to someone?  This selection of artworks The Rockwell’s permanent collection embraces the many definitions of mother figures, nurturers and families.


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