Visualizing Pregnancy in the work of Loie Hollowell
New York City artist Loie Hollowell experienced pregnancy and birth in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Working from home during the long months of quarantine due to the pandemic’s rise in New York, Hollowell began documenting her pregnancy through her art, creating large pastel drawings described as abstract self-portraits.
Hollowell’s vibrant works celebrate the forms, shapes and colors of the pregnant body. Her works are also visceral, bringing the viewer in touch with the sensations of pregnancy. In Birth, Perspective from Above and Below, for example, the viewer can almost feel the sensation of a growing womb through the glowing colors of the central circle, a pregnant belly. The breasts drawn towards the sides of the circles also seem to grow, pressing outward and leaving the viewer with a sensation of their fullness.
Beyond the beauty of Hollowell’s works, they may be helpful in the visualization of pregnancy, labor and birth, helping those who are pregnant to envision their own bodies as they grow and prepare for labor. The works are also celebratory and remind the viewer that pregnancy, while a solitary experience, is also communal in that many others who are pregnant or have been in the past, have experienced the sensations and bodily changes of pregnancy.