It’s a relationship that’s usually romanticized. But the 33 artists showcased in Picturing Motherhood Now, at the Cleveland Museum of Art through March 13, portray the indelible bond in situations largely overlooked. “Mothers of color have been left out of the canon of art history,” explains Emily Liebert, the museum’s curator of contemporary art.
Titus Kaphar’s 2019 oil painting, Not My Burden, depicts two women, each holding a white cut-out of a baby that stands in sharp contrast to the 19th-century photo on the wall behind them. “There are so many ways to read this work,” Liebert says. “Does it depict the history of black women caring for white children? Or does it represent black mothers and their missing children who have been torn apart by violence? Either way, the message is clear: Motherhood is not a women’s issue; it touches every single person’s life in some way.”