Visualizing Transition in Amanda Greavette’s “Early Morning”
Visualizing Birth returns to the artwork of Amanda Greavette, first explored here back in 2011. Greavette, a mother who recently gave birth at home to her fifth child, is on the forefront of the Birth Art Movement with her beautiful paintings that depict pregnancy, labor, and birth. Greavette’s painting, Early Morning, is both calming and captivating, drawing the viewer into a an intimate and yet serene birth setting. She has explained the original title and its meaning:
The full title at one time was ‘Early morning, it’s a lovely morn, the space between the darkness and the dawn’. It reminded me of a Yael Naim song, even though those weren’t the lyrics. This was painted before I started making more elaborate backgrounds and including a setting.
The soft, warm colors, brushstrokes, and forms of the painting complement the scene of a laboring woman who rests peacefully with her head, eyes closed, on a birth ball. Although an attendant checks the woman, she remains in her own space, which is a space of transition. In our correspondences, Greavette has spoken eloquently about this space of transition. Like the actual artwork, her words about the painting are helpful to other women in the process of visualizing labor and birth:
I wanted to reflect the time in labour when a woman is fully in ‘herself’, lost in labour land, and as the original title suggest in a space of transition (without actually being IN transition) and having part of herself in two spots-both the interior/exterior, physical/mental or spiritual and virgin/mother. I was also trying to suggest the warm dark intimacy of the cozy space at the end of the night, before the dawn breaks forth and a new day (and new life) emerges. In a minimalist way, I wanted to convey the interior landscape of the woman, but also simply represent the comforts she seeks as she labours (the ball, the hands and knees, the towel) and a gentle support/assistant behind her who isn’t even fully represented. Visually I wanted to give her space, quiet. This was before I had fully formed the concept or thrust behind the birth project and was simply trying to portray ‘birth’ in a visual language. It’s interesting to write it out as I can see that there was more I put into it than I thought! When I look at it now I generally think of it as a simple painting.
Amanda Greavette is a Canadian artist who lives and works in Ontario. In addition to painting and working in her community, Greavette is raising four children. She is also a La Leche League leader. To view more of Greavette’s work or to visit her Etsy shop, see her website information.