Visualizing birth through Alice Haibara’s “Nascimento”
Brazilian artist Alice Haibara uses earth pigments to create powerful images of birth. In 2017, Visualizing Birth discussed Haibara’s fascinating life and work in a different post. As explained there, Haibara is an artist and anthropologist who has conducted extensive field research on the cultures of both the Kaxinawá, an indigenous people of Brazil and Peru, and the Mbya Guarani, a people found across several countries of South America. As part of her research, she has looked at learning processes and the anthropology of the child.
In Nascimento (Birth), Haibara uses natural pigments and indigenous imagery to paint a supportive scene in which the birthing woman is aided by a midwife or elder who prepares to catch a crowning baby. Phases of the moon arc over the woman, while her body appears rooted to the earth with plants and vegetation surrounding her.
For those who are pregnant and approaching labor, the painting provides a positive and calming representation of birth. The warm colors invite the viewer to witness birth as a sacred or magical event. The birthing woman’s squatting position reminds others who are pregnant that the position can be helpful, and the crowning of the child is normalized, understood as the final moment for the baby before emergence into the world.
Alice Haibara may be contacted through her Facebook Page and more of her artwork may be viewed there as well.