OBSTETRICS IN AMERICA: MOTHER'S RIGHT

Michelle Hartney on CNN
Michelle Hartney on CNN

Hartney was highlighted on CNN's Great Big Story, as part of their “Instigators" series. Presented in conjunction with Every Mother Counts—a non-profit dedicated to maternal health, founded by Christy Turlington Burns—the new series profiles people fighting for change in women’s health, spotlighting innovators in the field. Hartney, labeled a true "Instigator," is featured using her probing art to shine a light on the increasing dangers of childbirth in the United States.

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns

Racks of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns in Michelle Hartney's studio in front of 'I Don’t Need Her Permission,' 2014, Varsity lettering and poppy print (morphine derivative) fabric on canvas, 36 x 70 x 2 inches / 91.44 x 177.8 x 5.08 centimeters, Edition of 3 from the 'Birth Words' series

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Tondo
MOTHER'S RIGHT Tondo

Installation view of limited edition MOTHER'S RIGHT tondo

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns (detail) Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT
MOTHER'S RIGHT

2015 MOTHER'S RIGHT gown fabric (detail) 30 silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters VISIT THE KICKSTARTER PAGE

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns

Michelle Hartney sewing MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns (detail) Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT
MOTHER'S RIGHT

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns at Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Installation
MOTHER'S RIGHT Installation

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns at Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns (detail) Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT
MOTHER'S RIGHT

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns at Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT
MOTHER'S RIGHT

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns at Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Installation
MOTHER'S RIGHT Installation

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns at Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Installation
MOTHER'S RIGHT Installation

Installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns at Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters

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MOTHER'S RIGHT
MOTHER'S RIGHT

2015 Gown (detail) Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters VISIT THE KICKSTARTER PAGE

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Necklaces
MOTHER'S RIGHT Necklaces

MOTHER'S RIGHT necklaces

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Tondos
MOTHER'S RIGHT Tondos

Installation view of limited edition MOTHER'S RIGHT tondos

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gown
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gown

2015 Gown (detail) Silk-screened hospital gowns 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters VISIT THE KICKSTARTER PAGE

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns

Racks of MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns in Michelle Hartney's studio in front of 'If You Don't Shut Up We Will Knock You Out, 2014, Varsity lettering and poppy print (morphine derivative) fabric on canvas, 36 x 70 x 2 inches / 91.44 x 177.8 x 5.08 centimeters, Edition of 3 from the 'Birth Words' series

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MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns
MOTHER'S RIGHT Gowns

Kickstarter Campaign $1000 Donation Level 2015 Installation of ten MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns (detail) 30 silk-screened hospital gowns, 30 flannel infant receiving blankets 30 x 30 inches / 76.2 x 76.2 centimeters VISIT THE KICKSTARTER PAGE

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Chicago-based artist Michelle Hartney's conceptual installation and performance piece MOTHER’S RIGHT

addresses the United States' high rates of maternal 

mortality, postpartum PTSD, and obstetric abuse. The initial performance took place on Labor Day 2015 at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois. For the performance, Hartney sewed 1,200 hospital gowns—one for every mother who died in childbirth in America in 2013. Each gown is hand silk-screened with the artist's drawings of the plant derivatives for the drugs that have been used on laboring women for the past 150 years.

During the performance, several pairs of women stand facing one other, folding the handmade gowns into triangles—similar to the way the American flag is folded at the funeral of a solider. The traditional flag-folding ceremony includes twelve symbolic folds, and as described by The American Legion, "The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.” These custom-made hospital gowns have been cut to a length where the fabric stops on the ninth fold. 

 

The third chapter in Hartney's Obstetrics in America series—preceded by Our Past and Birth Words—the project was initially influenced by Hartney's own experiences giving birth to her daughter and son. While both births were empowering, there were aspects of both that were deeply troubling. These feelings led the artist to research the history of obstetrics to better understand the birth process, and the delicate dynamic between doctors, nurses, and mothers. Hartney was shocked to discover that the medical practice of contemporary American birth is rooted in a past that is riddled with misogyny, racism, and abuse.

 

The artist launched a Kickstarter campaign on Mother's Day in 2015, with incentives for supporters including an installation of ten MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns, having their name (or the name of someone they chose) being sewn into one of the gowns used for the performance piece and installation, a 6 x 6 inch round framed tondo piece of the silk-screened fabric, a sterling silver MOTHER'S RIGHT necklace, a limited edition installation drawing Hartney created for the project, a set of ten, lined correspondence cards, and a personal thank you note with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric, among others, all designed by Hartney.

 

As part of a week-long residency at Defibrillator Gallery for performance art, Hartney held a performance and created an installation of MOTHER'S RIGHT in February 2016, in Chicago. Hartney will be presenting additional iterations of the piece in collaboration with various organizations in locations internationally. For more information, or to discuss partnership opportunities, please contact AKArt Advisory at info@AKArt.com.

 

 

MOTHER'S RIGHT KICKSTARTER SUPPORTERS

+ ADRIENNE ABDULHAWA

+ RUSSELL ABRAMSON

+ BERYL

+ MEL CALIWLIW JOHNSON

+ ERIN CHLAGHMO

+ JENNIFER CLEMMONS

+ RACHEL FALLON

+ MICKEY GILLMOR

+ JERRY GOLDNER

+ JOSHUA GOREN

+ C HARTNEY

+ DAVE HARTNEY

+ MARK HARTNEY

+ MEG HARTNEY

+ MICHAEL HARTNEY

+ PATRICIA HARTNEY

+ LINDA HESSEL

+ BRUNI HIRSCH

+ JULIE HOBERT

+ AMANDA HOLDER

+ JULIE HOBERT

+ KAY MARIE JACOBSON

+ CAROLINA JAYARAM

+ LIZZIE JONES

+ KATHY K

+ OLA KAPUSTO

+ JOEL KAY

+ ANTHONY KENDRICK

+ NIC KENNEDY

+ ROYA KHADJAVI HEIDARI

+ AMY KISCH

+ MEG LEARY

+ FRANK LIU

+ TANYA MCHALE

+ ELIZA MCKENDREE

+ LAURA MIRANDA-BROWNE

+ JOSH MURPHY

+ ZOE NAVARRE

+ KRISTI NUELLE

+ PRINTED CHICAGO

+ MICHAEL QUINN

+ READart

+ SAM RECKWEG

+ CHRIS RINI

+ ASHLEIGH ROSE

+ DEBORAH ROYCE

+ ROBERT SAYWITZ

+ TALI SEDGWICK

+ JULIE SCHMITT

+ LAUREL SCHREMENTI

+ YOKO SHIMADA

+ DEBRA SILVER

+ CHRISTINE TREADWAY

+ MARLIES VERHOEVEN

+ ALEXANDRA WAGLE

+ SUZANNE WERTMAN

 

MOTHER'S RIGHT KICKSTARTER PRESS

+ LES FEMMES FOLLES: Michelle Hartney, Artist

+ PEGGY O'MARA: Mother's Right

+ (READ)art: Support Artist Michelle Hartney's MOTHER'S RIGHT Installation + Performance Kickstarter Campaign

+ SOCIAL GOOD MOMS: Artist Puts Spotlight on Maternal Mortality and Obstetric Abuse in America

+ TONDO: Kickstarter of the Week

 

 

MORE ABOUT MICHELLE HARTNEY