Blog / 2023 / Infertilities, A Curation

September 18, 2023

A beautiful new book called Infertilities, A Curation comes out tomorrow. My art is in it, and I kind of don’t care—which is also why I couldn’t be more excited in this moment!

And if that makes it sound like I’ve completely scrambled my brains as well as my eggs, I get it. My exhilarated lack of enthusiasm as well as my infertility journey are explained below.

Gwenn in hospital
photo by David

It all started in 2009, when I had my first surgery to treat my endometriosis, after I ended up in the ER when a large cyst ruptured. Before then, I had suspected something was wrong, but, in all the ways that count, in the space of a few days, I went from being a mostly healthy 28 year old to having a chronic and debilitating illness that often causes infertility.

Facing a daunting longterm treatment plan, my partner and I chose to put off thinking about whether or not we’d be making babies. During this period, my feelings about my body—along with my body itself—were acutely painful and only made worse by all the hormones I was being given in an attempt to control the growth of the disease.

Crime Against Nature, queer science picture book by Gwenn Seemel
Crime Against Nature, the book

In 2012, I had a second surgery, which included the removal of one of my ovaries. When I went in for that operation, I was in the middle of creating an epic project, which is both a series of paintings and a book about how infertile people as well as queer people, trans folx, and all kinds of individuals who don’t conform to traditional ideas of gender and sex fit into the natural world.

Around this same time, my partner and I discussed the status of my lady bits and the trajectory of our lives more generally, eventually determining that the kid question required an answer. With a mixture of heaviness and relief, we decided not to have children.

dollhouse in a wooded back yard
photo by Gwenn

A few years later, I had a funny moment involving this dollhouse and some other toys from my youth, and it helped me realize I’d transitioned from being childless to childfree. I still struggled with the emphasis that our society puts on baby-making, but I was feeling a new kind of freedom.

Infertilities, A Curation: Wayne University Press featuring the art of queer atheist artist Gwenn Seemel
Elizbeth Horn, Maria Novotny, and Robin Silbergleid’s Infertilities, A Curation

And then, in early 2021, I was invited by the founders of The ART of Infertility to contribute art to their upcoming book. I was professionally flattered and personally touched, and I pointed them to the series and book I’d made back in 2012.

Now it’s 2023 and the book is coming out. I’m still thrilled about Infertilities, A Curation—I’m loving the contributions of all the amazing brains and hearts that have come together to make this book—but I also find myself deliciously detached from it all.

Infertilities, A Curation: Wayne University Press featuring the art of queer atheist artist Gwenn Seemel
spread from Infertilities, A Curation

For the first time since my diagnosis, my own infertility doesn’t make me feel any kind of way. It just is.

It may have taken me fourteen years and approximately fourteen million tears, but I feel so lucky to have arrived at this emotional space. And I know for a certainty that it was art that got me here.

Art saves us. And most recently it’s doing so in terms of mental health—both mine and other people’s—with Everything’s Fine. If you’d like to be involved, check out the Kickstarter!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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