Good Mother

Angela Shaffer

2021 - Ongoing

My son and I often collide into each other as we navigate our evolving relationship. We also rest in moments of tenderness & stasis. Good Mother is about the emotional and psychological labor of raising my son. These images depict my efforts to shape and mold him into the man I think he should become. In spite of this, he pushes against my control and asserts his own position in the world.

In these photographs, we reenact and imagine moments of tension or affection in front of white walls and spaces in our home. I direct our performance in front of the lens. Additionally, I use still life objects, isolated gestures, and the grouping of particular images to symbolically reference our relationship. Through my attempts to manipulate my son, he barricades himself from me or exerts physical aggression in defense of my encroachment. Yet, our bond is evident in moments when we cling & attach to each other.

I bathe in anxiety about the future, as there are no definitive directions on how to mother. In earnest response to our cultural climate, I am attempting to avoid failure, for I have one child & one chance to get it right. This work is an expression of a need to be a good mother.

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