Connecting to Nature in Jen Otey’s “Mother Earth”
Mother Earth (Copyright 2006, Jen Otey. All Rights Reserved)
A strong connection and belief in mother nature is one of the most powerful tools a pregnant woman can carry with her as she approaches the labor and birth of her child. The constant reminder that her body is part of nature and that its very form is tied to the birth cycle helps to ease her anxieties about how her baby will emerge from her womb. Her understanding that many women before her have birthed their babies and that birthing is a natural physiological process for women will empower her, making her experience communal, both with women across time and with the earth itself.
Artist Jen Otey‘s Mother Earth acts as a visual guide to imagining the female body’s strong connectedness to the natural world. In previous posts, I have discussed artwork that helps pregnant women to imagine their body’s as entities of the natural world (e.g. see posts on Xiaohong Zhang, Amanda Greavette or blue whale giving birth). Similarly, the image of Otey’s Mother Earth works to enhance our own imagination of the body as rooted in the earth, fertile and growing as baby develops inside. Otey has explained the image to me in her own words,
The image for Mother Earth came to me while giving birth. I was living in Alaska at the time and the birch trees in the forest around my cabin spoke so much to me…even before I was pregnant with my son. While giving birth, I saw lots of things and focused on lots of things in my mind. At one point I thought of a large birch on our property I called Momma Birch…she is the matriarch of that land. She gave me strength and calm. This is her portrait.
Based in Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains, Jen Otey is a mother, artist and architect. She may be reached or more of work may be viewed through her website at MOONbow ARTworks. Prints of her work may also be purchased through her Etsy Shop.