Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
Beggars And Choosers: Motherhood Is Not A Class Privilege In America
-- Photos of Mothers and Children on the Margins of Society
at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum August 25–September 27, 2008 --
FLUSHING, NY, August 14, 2008 -- Beggars and Choosers, an exhibition of 56 powerful images of mothers and children by leading documentary photographers, opens at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College on August 25 and continues through September 27, 2008. Curated by award-winning historian Rickie Solinger, the show comes to Queens College after stops at other major academic institutions, such as Duke University, Brown University, Texas A&M, and state universities in California, Colorado, Ohio, and Mississippi.
Depicting mothers and children on the margins of society, the exhibition features works by such renowned American photographers as Susan Meiselas, Eli Reed, Mel Rosenthal, Clarissa Sligh, Corky Lee, Deb Willis, Roland Freeman, Taryn Simon, Stephen Shames, and Joseph Rodriguez. The show highlights individuals whom numerous politicians and policymakers regard as too young, too poor, too gay, too disabled, too not-white, or too foreign to be legitimate mothers. In rebuttal, these stunning pictures portray the women being mothers, with strength, dignity, and determination; the subjects comment on their lives in “voice-texts” posted near their portraits. Beggars and Choosers also includes two photo-based books, and six text panels examining public policies—in education, health care, housing, incarceration, and other areas—that create and sustain poverty in the United States.
“This is a particularly important exhibition at this moment in time, when we are seeing the largest divisions and disparities in social classes in our society since the Great Depression,” says Godwin-Ternbach Director Amy Winter. Curator Rickie Solinger observes that the show responds to the current climate, which “extends the post-Civil-Rights-Movement-backlash against welfare and other social provisions. The response specifically addresses the proliferation, over the past generation, of politicized and degrading images of many women in the United States who are mothers.”
Beggars and Choosers is co-sponsored by the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College’s Division of Arts and Humanities, Division of Social Science, and political science and history departments, spearheaded by the latter’s Professor Premilla Nadasen. Designed to stimulate new thinking and conversation about motherhood, public policy, media, and politics, the show is accompanied by free public events.
On Wednesday., September 3, from 12:15–1:15 pm, curator Rickie Solinger will lecture on “Nine Ways to Look at a Poor Woman.” A reception will follow.
On Tuesday, September 16, at 4 pm, Caroline Rupprecht, Queens College Department of Comparative Literature, will present a reading on famed architect Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair. At 5 pm, Carmella Marrone, Director of the Queens College Women & Work program, will moderate a one-hour panel discussion on “The Politics of Motherhood.” Participants include Annelise Orleck of Dartmouth College, speaking on activism, welfare, and child care; Queens College Political Science Professor Alyson Cole, speaking on motherhood as a QC faculty member; and Erline Brown of Domestic Workers United, an organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers in New York, speaking on race, gender, and mothering. The evening will conclude with a reception.
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is the only comprehensive collection of art and artifacts in the borough of Queens, housing over 3,500 objects that date from ancient to modern times. A cultural and educational resource for students and the local community, the museum also serves neighboring areas of Long Island and metropolitan New York. Originally envisioned as a teaching museum for the benefit of art and art history students, the Godwin-Ternbach has expanded its mission over time, embracing all disciplines and an increasingly diverse and engaged public. All exhibitions and programs are free. In addition, the Godwin-Ternbach offers an array of lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, films, concerts, and tours, collaborating with academic departments and Queens College centers and programs.
Located in Klapper Hall on the Flushing campus (65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, Queens, Exit 24, LIE), the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is open Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm. For more information, call 718-997-4747 or 718-997-4724 and visit http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/godwin_ternbach/godternb_exhibitions/godternb_exhibit_upcoming.html .