As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, we welcome an artist to the B&H Photography Podcast who is using her camera to examine quotidian spaces and further a conversation about the “deeply felt subjective experiences of motherhood,” particularly as they are realized in the workplace. Joining us is photographer Corinne May Botz, whose current series is entitled “Milk Factory,” and it takes lactation rooms, the spaces where working mothers go to pump breast milk, as its subject. Also joining us as guest host this week is our colleague and new mom Liz Groeschen, who will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day this coming Sunday.
With her 4 x 5 film camera and digital medium format system, Botz has been invited into the varied spaces, some sanctioned and comfortable and others improvised and “multipurpose,” where women go several times a day to pump milk when away from their children. Her work engages with the mothers but, like most of her previous projects, is focused more on the often-overlooked details of the spaces we occupy, inviting the viewer to enter these rooms and gain an understanding of what they might signify to the mothers themselves and, of course, to ask us to recognize how we prioritize space for the needs of mothers and, in turn, healthy families.
We discuss the process of creating her series, how Botz interacts with the women who have invited her into their intimate spaces, and her thoughts regarding portraiture and documentation compared to fine art or “constructed” photography. We also chat about her way to maneuver a relatively large camera setup in tight quarters, finding relevant details within a space and, of course, post-processing, printing, and the Pentax 645D. While she does not consider her series to be didactic, she aspires to elevate the status of motherhood’s concerns into the highest levels of cultural dialogue, and workplace policy. In an understated but precise manner, her images make very clear the need for improvement in how we treat the experience of motherhood in the workplace.
The “Milk Factory” series was recently exhibited at the Baxter St. Camera Club of New York and supported by a collaboration between Baxter St. and the National YoungArts Foundation. Please join us for this engaging conversation.
Guests: Corinne May Botz
Photograph © Corinne May Botz