Martha Fleming-Ives is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2005 and an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in 2010. Her work has been exhibited at Silver Eye Center for Photography, Center for Photography at Woodstock, Weatherspoon Art Museum, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and Griffin Museum of Photography. She currently teaches in the Honors Program at the School of Visual Arts, NY.
Ordinary Devotion is a series of photographs that document my experience of motherhood throughout the first year of my daughter’s life. This is a unique time period within the mother/child relationship where the child is in absolute dependence and the mother is in a state of primary maternal preoccupation. Taken with a medium format film camera, the images were made predominantly inside my apartment. The subject matter present encompasses a limited field in which I, the artist, had access to at this time – my body, my baby, objects within my home and the outside world as seen through apartment windows – and speak to the heightened sense of isolation and alienation a new mother can feel by her role as round-the-clock caretaker.
The title of the series refers to a notion within the work of the English pediatrician and psychoanalyst DW Winnicott who developed the term “ordinary devoted mother” in arguing that the ordinary devotion of mothers is enough for the healthy development of their children. Thus, the photographs within the series act as a negotiation between the seemingly opposite mundane tasks of daily life tending to an infant and the blissful, often spiritual, sensuality present in caring for a new child. Ultimately, this series reckons with the idea of ‘women’s work’ and the simultaneous roles of the mother (creator of life) and artist (creator of art) and the difficulties present in practicing both simultaneously.
To view more of Martha’s photographs, please visit her website.