Artwork / Swollen / Child Birth

before and after portraits of a mother and child
Gwenn Seemel
Before and After: Child Birth
2006 and 2007
acrylic on bird’s eye piqué
30 x 54 inches (combined dimensions)

When I created these portraits, I had been having health problems, but I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with endometriosis. It’s strange to think that, as I made these paintings, I assumed this was a transition I would go through one day. I didn’t, and, instead of making a baby, I made a baby book in 2020.

What follows is the text originally displayed with Before and After: Child birth. It describes the earth change that I chose as an analogy for this woman’s transition.

Early on in the earth’s formation, when it was still nothing but a lump of semi-molten stuff, a smaller, rogue mass of semi-molten stuff crashed into it. The force of the impact organized the earth’s matter into four layers—inner core, outer core, mantle, crust—and set our planet’s axis on an angle. A portion of the rogue planet spun off from the earth into lunar orbit. Still today, the moon keeps the earth steady on its tilted, season-making axis.

painterly portrait
detail image
painterly portrait
detail image