The neglected and insignificant spaces are the places we often find mothers pumping milk in, if we know where to look. Supply closets, abandoned locker rooms with flickering lights, storage rooms, bathroom stalls or unauthorized spaces is the place to make milk for many. Any exclusively pumping or working mother who has made the choice to breastfeed after having a baby, almost always has an intimate pumping story to tell that was downright awkward.
Since 2018, I have become a participant to many pumping sessions throughout the Baltimore area and continue to collect their stories through photography. Using digital, medium format film and alternative processes, environmental portraits are captured of these pumping spaces that often leave them feeling uncomfortable, isolated and vulnerable. In more recent works, I now boil the exposed film in their breastmilk afterwards, which has shifted the work to another part of their experience – the anxiety surrounding not only the space, but the breastmilk itself and the hold it has on the mother. Surrendering to the process of what happens to the photograph as a result of the milk soup lends itself to the loss of control within milk production for most pumping mothers and the obsession over supply and demand.
Denied a Space (at the Cylburn Arboretum), Oil & Charcoal on Canvas, 32 x 32 inches, 2020020
Bambi Galore (Post Drag Show), Baltimore, MD, Oil & Charcoal on Canvas, 34 x 34 inches, 2020s, 2020
Falling Short, 120 Film Cooked & Processed in Breast Milk, 2020
the construction worker
in the parking garage
Natalie, Columbia, MD, Yashica-D / 120 Portra, 2019
the school teacher pumping session
grading, checking emails and catching up on paperwork
Jackie, Public School, Digital, 2019
she pumped in the dressing room at work
in between shows
this was her final session.
Genevieve, Single Carrot Theater, Digital, 2019
she secretly pumped in an old locker room
lights flickering, left behinds strewn about
packets of seeds
after they denied her a space
Angie (became a Master Gardener anyways), Cylburn Arboretum, Digital, 2019
the drag queen
post show pump
Bambi Galore, Baltimore, MD, Digital
the car pumper
while baby sleeps in the back seat.
Heather, Route 108, MD, Digital, 2019
she pumped in her office
entering data, answering calls
eating her lunch
doing it all.
Autumn (the chemist), Johns Hopkins Laboratory, Digital, 2019
she pumps at the vanity of her upstairs hallway
while preparing her powerpoint presentations
working and grinding away
Meena, Columbia, MD, Digital, 2019