Motherhood is unkempt, complicated, and multifaceted. It was my sudden and unexpected transition into being a parent that inspired my exploration of the maternal. From the beginning I interrogated my reality: I looked at the softened, nostalgic and tame cultural view of the “normal” experience of being a mother, and saw it for what it was: a dramatic transformation, with some of the most intertwined and complicated interpersonal relationships imaginable. I continue a thread of questioning in my work to explore boundaries, moments of shifting, and blurred relationships between mother and child, and mother and self. I dive into the life and death cycle inherent in creation. I dissect how matrescence can cause an identity crisis by blurring a woman’s understanding of where she as her original self ends, and where she as mother begins. I am inspired by maternal psychology and by maternal lineage. I am struck by every individual and varied story of motherhood I come across, and how they all contain the common thread of exploration, renewal and loss. My artwork, primarily driven by depictions of the female body, takes back the narrative of the mother from centuries of idealization and outsider perspectives. Day after day as I return to the studio, I remain thrilled to examine the endless nuances of this age-old experience.
Mya Cluff is a studio artist living and working in Belgrade, Montana. Born and raised in Oregon, she moved to Montana in 2017 after graduating from the Oregon College of Art and Craft. She received a BFA in Craft with an emphasis in Ceramics, which remains her primary medium of choice.The birth of Mya’s firstborn daughter in the middle of her BFA was the catalyst of her investigation of the maternal through her art practice. Mya is intrigued with the psychological, political and interpersonal ramifications of motherhood. She uses her own experience as inspiration, as well as the stories of her peers, written accounts of motherhood, and maternal feminist theory to inform her work. Mya strives to give visual form to the intimacy and complexity of motherhood that is often lost through essentializing archetypes. When she began this line of research, she found the art historical cannon was severely lacking information on artists working with this theme, and has since dedicated her work to increasing the visibility of motherhood in the arts. Mya has exhibited both nationally and internationally in group exhibitions, and has work in various private collections. She has participated as a mentor through the Artist/Mother Network as well as through local one-on-one mentorship in the Gallatin Valley. She also participated in a short term residency at the Red Lodge Clay Center, in Red Lodge, MT. She debuted the show “Where Do I End and You Begin” at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture in Bozeman, MT summer of 2021 as her first solo show.