Tabitha Soren (whom some may remember as a former MTV reporter) spoke at the opening reception about her photographic series "Panic Beach," which she called "a response to the difficult twists and turns of everyday living." The photos depict dramatically lit, turbulent ocean waves deliberately shot so as to obscure the horizon and blur the distinction between land, sea and sky. Mother-of-three Soren said hormonal effects of pregnancy left her suffering panic attacks and the "Panic Beach" images reflect that feeling of inner instability. Often shot at dawn while the rest of her family slept (a way to find some time for her creative pursuits), they show, she said, how parenthood can be "quite messy and ugly at times and beautiful at others." Creating art always involves an element of risk and unpredictability. "You know what you want," she said, drawing a knowing laugh from the crowd, "but like parenting, it doesn't always work out as planned."
"A funny thing happened when I found out we were going to have a baby," Jeremiah Jenkins said. "Whenever we would go on a hike and we saw a rabbit I would think, 'I've got to catch that rabbit. I've got to bring it home to my family.'" These newfound instinctual urges are reflected, humorously, in his art, including a shopping cart made of sticks ("What We Gather"), a potty chair made of ceramics ("What We Leave Behind") and dishes and utensils made of gourds, hides and other "primitive" materials, decorated with images of Elmo, Winnie the Pooh, Daniel Tiger and more, which he called "our new animal cult." He recounted imagining himself as a Neanderthal father, traipsing through the wilderness, grocery-shopping trips becoming epic foraging expeditions.
"It made me reflect on what it's really like to have a kid," he said. "It's this primal thing from the absolute beginning. There's something about feeding your child that really contains what it means to survive as a human being."
The rest of the exhibition includes sculpture, paintings, video, photography, prints and sound recordings.
In conjunction with the main exhibition, the center is also fostering a collaborative, experimental program called "Being Human," in which Jill Miller and 10 fellow Bay Area artists/parents, who receive child care stipends from the Art Center, will meet once a week to discuss parenting challenges as catalysts for creating art and work together on activities inspired by Erik Erikson's "Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development," which maps out human development from birth onward.
The Palo Alto Art Center is located at 1313 Middlefield Road and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Thursday open until 9 p.m.) and Sunday 1-5 p.m. "Care and Feeding" runs through Dec. 30. Go to tinyurl.com/y8ppz5z8 and beinghumanart.com.
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