Radiant Crowning in Damien Leggett’s “Freebirth of Amara”

Radiant Crowning in Damien Leggett's "Freebirth of Amara"
Freebirth of Amara, ink and water
Copyright 2011, Damien Leggett, All Rights reserved

Created by Canadian artist, Damien Leggett, this work, Freebirth of Amara, is both magnificent to look at and highly useful in the visualization of birth.  The central image of a large dark swirl colored in pink, black and red, indicates the emergence of a crowning baby from a woman’s opening birth passage.  Strong arms and legs spread from the woman’s core, framing her body and adding energetic movement to the birth moment depicted.  Two smaller circles, the woman’s breasts, rest above a raised, pink belly, their swirling shapes emphasizing the crowning that takes place below. Leggett’s use of flesh-colored dots to outline the entire body also act to energize the piece, visually reminding the viewer of how radiant and active the birthing body can be.  Finally, at the center of the composition sits the unmistakeable image of an eye, as though representing a sacred chakra within the female body.  Commonly described and depicted in images from eastern cultures, chakras correspond to powerful, spiritual centers of the body, which together regulate its functioning.

Leggett’s focus on this moment of crowning provides others with a clear representation of how the vulva will naturally open to allow for baby’s emergence into the world.  As discussed in my How to Visualize section, the pregnant woman often becomes concerned with the idea that something as large as a baby must pass through her vagina and vulva.  In its art and pop culture, our modern world generally prefers to hide the female sex organs or even to make them disappear (e.g. Barbie dolls).  This is unfortunate for many reasons, but especially in that women are often raised unaware of how it is that their own bodies function.  Birth, the essential means through which life comes into the world, is a beautiful thing, and it is therefore troubling that vaginal birth continues today to be a taboo issue. In light of this cultural taboo, images such as Leggett’s are rare.  They are therefore hidden gems that act both to celebrate birth and to educate women on how it is that their bodies will open up on the day of birth. 
I have had the fortune of corresponding with Damien about this beautiful
artwork.  He has explained its original meaning to me and also told me more about his background with birth and art:

The piece of art that you chose is called Freebirth of Amara, which is exactly what it was inspired by.  This is a woman who is surrounded by fire and helping spirits, but she is ultimately alone.  This is a moment of transformation; having only herself to rely on, this woman has pushed past fear, passed through many emotions to ultimately find herself free of attachment… she just is, in this moment.

I have been working in the realm of birth for almost ten years, advocating for the right of women and infants to dignity in their birth experiences. I have apprenticed with birth here in Canada, as well as in Central America.  I am in the process of transitioning to a male body but honour the feminine in everything around me, including my Self. I am a single father of three amazing children who have shown me who I truly am.

Damien Leggett may be reached through his email address at: damienleggett@gmail.com. More of his work is available through his blog.