New Madonnas
Angst and Image of the 21st Century Mother

The madonna and child image rests as a cardinal pursuit in Italian Renaissance art. Old masters from Allegri to Zaganelli were preoccupied with it at one time or another. Though their intentions were influenced by dominant religious iconography these painters showed a more humanist approach to the universal theme. Nevertheless the climate of 15th and 16th centuries Italy did not sanction their venture beyond devotional realms.

Five hundred years later there has been little evolution of the subject. Contemporary artists are unable to envision the motif without becoming stereotypical and sentimental. Consequently their visions are narrow, trite, even obsolete.

The "New Madonnas" series sheds a critical light on the mother/child relationship. Present-day mother cannot be isolated from her times. She rears life immersed within its dilemmas. Her children are the products not only of her love, but her anxieties, as well.

Photographic images present a nonfictional source of content. These are real women, authentic heroines and their offspring, not projections of fanciful or lofty ideals. The works reveal the unspoken, deeper (sometimes darker) psychological throes; that is, not all heavenly happiness, but expressions from a wider human spectrum. The series ultimately communicates the predicaments of motherhood and the contradictions of nascent life.

A psycho-sociology is conveyed. What happens during infancy sets one's life in motion ultimately etching who we are and how we will define ourselves. Our genes are undeniable but nurturing might, in the end, prevail. A reciprocating relationship surely begins in the womb. This is no one-way street. The child has equal influence on the mother. They are symbionts to each other from conception. Even the basic act of breast feeding epitomizes this. The woman provides for her child. Simultaneously the child nurtures her. There is no giving without the taking. We feed off each other. The "New Madonnas" reveal the reality of our entering and being in the world, the angst of the modern mother & child.

R M DiCecco June 2008

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