In March 2024, I will present as a Co-Organizer of the Roundable/Panel Discussion entitled “Burden of Proof: Reproduction in the Institution.” This Inkubator Session is co-chaired with Associate Professor Taryn McMahon of Kent State University and will be presented at the 2024 Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) Conference in Providence, RI.
This was a juried opportunity, with panels, Inkubators, demonstrations, and other events being selected by the Steering Committee for the SGCI Providence Conference entitled “Verified by Proof.”
From SGCI’s website,
“Verified by Proof ” is taken from the broadside This is a Printing Office, written by Beatrice Warde in 1932. In a high-speed digital age, the phrase gains importance and embraces the meticulous nature of the hand-pulled print. The Verified by Proof steering committee seeks proposals that engage the message of This is a Printing Office—establishing truth, validation through proof/proofing, and the power of the press—and invites you all to celebrate print and its important role in countering the turbulent culture that we all currently face.
Providence is a city that has historically been a refuge for dissidents and a stronghold in the battle for individual freedoms. It is a city where print is celebrated in all its forms, from conceptual art to communication design. Printmaking often intersects with other media in Providence’s rich artistic community, which is host to a variety of creative spaces ranging from traditional academic settings to community shops and maker/DIY spaces. We encourage proposals that embrace this cross pollination and celebrate the broad scope of printmaking, graphic media, and independent publishing.https://www.sgcinternational.org/call-for-participation-sgci-2021-providence-verified-by-proof/#:~:text=The%20Verified%20by%20Proof%20steering,that%20we%20all%20currently%20fac
“Burden of Proof: Reproduction in the Institution” creates a safe space for a discussion about reproducing bodies, parenting, and how these clash with institutional policies and spaces, including academia. The facilitators of this Inkubator session will create an intersectional viewpoint on the topic by gathering diverse bodies and backgrounds to share their experiences of parenthood and the institution. Topics will range from work/life balance, self-advocacy, microaggressions, search committees, trailing spouses, promotional assessments, digital communication, and more. The goals of this session are to encourage discussion, listening, awareness, and to share strategies of coping and speaking up/out. This topic is relevant to everyone: parents, those considering becoming parents, and those who work alongside and with parents at a variety of creative institutions. It is our sincere hope that discussions in this vein will continue moving forward at every conference gathering.
In the context of printmaking, a “proof” is a trial impression of an image, but the word “proof” also denotes evidence that helps to establish a fact. Artist parents working within institutions are often made to feel that they must do “more” in order to “prove” that their labor is valuable to the institution and not held back by responsibilities at home. This Inkubator stems directly from the organizers witnessing and experiencing the urgent need for mentorship, advocacy, and camaraderie among artist parents, especially within traditionally inflexible institutions, such as academia.
Potential topics include the devaluation by some printmakers of safer green practices in comparison to traditional methods (even though some traditional chemicals and materials can cause reproductive harm), damaging things often said on hiring search committees, promotional assessments, emails that obscure and devalue parents in the workplace, and the accessibility of important means for professional development such as conferences and residencies. Only one conference the presenters have attended offered a lactation room. No conferences have mentioned childcare options, and while families have been discussion points, they haven’t been exactly welcome in the fray. We have often had to go above and beyond institutional requirements to prove as parents that we are just as valuable as colleagues, pushing beyond medical conditions, lack of sleep, and new humans who desperately need our time and attention to excel in the workplace. How can we advocate for ourselves and our colleagues in these spaces? How can we support each other? How can we advocate for policy and practical changes that accommodate the needs of artist parents?
The organizers acknowledge our privilege as tenured cis white women in heterosexual partnerships, and through an open call for co-facilitators, will prioritize voices of LGBTQ and BIPOC parents, especially birthing people and people without the security of tenure. This topic is relevant to everyone: parents, those considering becoming parents, and those who work alongside and with parents at a variety of creative institutions. It is our sincere hope that discussions in this vein will continue moving forward at every conference gathering.