As I wrestle with myself, I wrestle with my mother. Both my mother and I survived domestic abuse as children, my mother again as an adult. Our bodies carry our trauma, her body carried mine, and someday, my body will carry my children. M’ma contemplates what we do with what we’re given, how trauma is inherited and passed down to the next generation through the body, and the complex intimacy of the mother-child relationship. I express and project my questions about my future children, my relationship with and understanding of my mother, and of myself in anticipation of being a mother through a multimedia installation. The installation consists of a photo sculpture, two quilts, a video piece, and photographs. The project recognizes how the individuality of both the mother and child affect their relationship with each other. The materials used in the project explore the comfort, difficulties, and even danger inherent to the mother-child relationship. I engage with the photographic family archive and fragments to address the ways in which trauma is inherited and passed on. The house is a motif throughout the project to discuss the protective and stifling nature of the domesticity, mothers, and motherhood. The installation continues this motif as it mimics a domestic space and a womb, spaces a mother and child navigate with and against each other. My body is present throughout the work because the body is so much a part of motherhood, both in pregnancy and well beyond. My own body bears the weight of my questions through recorded performance, quilting, sewing, and self-portraiture. The installation affects the body of the viewer, forcing them to duck to enter and to navigate through the space.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mothers in art; Motherhood in art; Home in art; Psychic trauma in art; Photography, Artistic--Themes, motives; Adult child abuse victims

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Photography and Related Media (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

Photographic Arts and Sciences, School of


College of Art and Design


Joshua Thorson

Advisor/Committee Member

Catherine Zuromskis

Advisor/Committee Member

Juan Orrantia


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes