By Tracy G. Cassels
It was two years ago and I had just written the piece “Bedsharing and SIDS: The Whole Truth” and was searching online for an image that would capture the love and affection found in the bedsharing relationship. This is when I came across a beautiful blue picture of an art piece of a mother and baby lying peacefully together. The mother’s arm was tenderly wrapped around her baby while the baby’s arm drapes over a bolster or pillow towards mom. They look peaceful, tranquil, content, in love, and oh-so-very natural. I had the image that captured everything I had hoped for.
About a year and half later I received an email from one Gioia Albano. A little note saying, “I believe that’s my picture there!” Feeling horrified because I hadn’t known and thus didn’t credit, I apologized and offered to take it down immediately. She said “no” and I was able to give credit where credit was due and get a copy with her name watermarked on it which replaced the older one I’d simply found. For me, more importantly, I got to now see the rest of her work. The blue painting that had touched me so much (and still did) was one of many. I’d found an artist who focused her paintings not only on motherhood, but motherhood as it naturally is. Co-sleeping, babywearing, and breastfeeding are common themes that run throughout her paintings and each offers those same feelings of tranquility and love that should be part of how we portray motherhood.
In a society which seems to focus so very much on how hard parenting is, in creating obstacles and worries for parents where they often don’t need them, and that offers such little support for families to simply just be together, art that takes all of that out and focuses on the deep love that bonds families together is much needed. If every parent can see the joy in the small moments then the rest can seem far more doable. If parents can see the naturalness of sleeping with a child, some stigma may be removed. And if we can all see the beauty in breastfeeding then we can hopefully realize how important it is to break down the many booby traps that stop so many women from reaching their goals. Art can be transformative in society – we have known this for a long time – it’s just the matter of which art we choose to share. In this vein, I choose to share Gioia Albano and her depictions of motherhood as beautiful, loving, and natural.
Here I present to you an interview with Gioia where I was able to get her perspectives on parenting, art, and her own muses for her work…
Evolutionary Parenting: How did you come to paint on motherhood?
Gioia Albano: After a long period of inactivity I started painting again. It was 2007 and my first child was about 7 months at the time. My easel has been in a corner for quite a while and long enough, I suppose I said to myself “now or never” and just started. The first mama was babywearing her baby which of course was also what I used to do as well…. I suppose it was pretty natural for me. The motherhood topic was just huge to explore in painting and in life. Women have always been my natural favourite topic and motherhood, pregnancy, birthing can all be a huge part of woman life. For me it was a natural path to follow.
EP: You’re in France which isn’t known to be very “attachment parenting” focused yet your pieces are all that. How is the reception there? And why do you think the attitude there is so contrary to breastfeeding/co-sleeping/etc?
GA: l’m not sure France is not an attachment parenting place, maybe because I’m in touch with lots of parents that are actually into it. I actually have the impression that more and more parents get close to it. From my point of view the French are generally quite stressed about the “bad” habits that children can get into and also about “what ” will happen next, so it’s not always easy to follow your soul and “let things go” above all when as a child you didn’t have attachment parents.
EP: Are there other painters that have influenced your work?
GA: I have my favourite such as Botticelli,Modigliani, and definitly Van Gogh. And a special admiration for some women painters such as Artemisia Gentileschi and Frida Kahlo
EP: I see you have three kids of your own, how has each child influenced your art over time?
GA: I don’t think there is a direct influence… definitely beeing a mother the first time encouraged me to leave behind the lack of confidence I suffered, which was one of the few reasons keeping me far from my art for a long time. In some ways I wanted me to be a good example I suppose, not to be in the position to have to say to my children I didn’t do what I loved because for me it’s a great thing to know what You love in life and to nurture this.
Then of course carrying on with my trip in motherhood gave me more and more topics to paint !
EP: Again, with three kids, you’ve probably witnessed the differences each child has and brings to the family. How has the experience with each child been for you?
GA: It’s quite amazing how the relationships evolve in the family…I could write a romance on it!
I would say that my first one brought my biggest love in term of guts…. I became a mother and a mother in love at the very first moment I saw her, then of course I had to experience the stress (and sometimes fear) about being a new mum…
Which with my second one made me really enjoy how much I was more relaxed in practical and human aspects I was, so I could give more attention to the motherhood choices I made,
With the third one, well, she’s an alien… in a good way. It’s curious because it’s like she’s just herself, she’s not kind of like me, not kind of like daddy, not her siblings, just her! And it’s quite funny!
EP: Fathers feature in some of your paintings but not many. Why is that?
GA: I think simply because how I said in the beginning there is a big part of bio at least when I start to paint and I’m a woman,so I can relate myself much more easier.
Also the “animal” side of motherhood is something that I deeply relate with…so it does takes up a big part of what I paint!
EP: Thank you so much Gioia for answering these questions and for your beautiful works of art!
She also has a facebook page which you can follow here: https://www.facebook.com/AlbanoGioiaArt