M/other’s time to shine: MICAfest runs in three Northampton venues through May

MICAfest features the work of 80 women artists in three Northampton venues through May.

MICAfest features the work of 80 women artists in three Northampton venues through May. Image from MICA website

“Twin Goats,” painting by Cynthia Zeman 

“Twin Goats,” painting by Cynthia Zeman  Image courtesy MICAfest

“The Alien Inside,” oil on canvas by Reshma Gorde

“The Alien Inside,” oil on canvas by Reshma Gorde Image courtesy MICAfest

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 05-16-2024 1:32 PM

The challenges mothers face can be legion, especially for those who work and have families and, according to any number of studies, still end up doing most of the chores at home, from raising kids to cooking, compared to their husbands and partners.

“MICAfest Art for Change” is offering a month-long artistic response to that and other issues.

The festival, held in a number of locations in May in Northampton, has featured poetry, visual art, dance, theater, and varied workshops, all designed to challenge societal expectations of motherhood and amplify the diverse voices of different artists.

Featuring the work of 80 female artists, the festival has been produced by M/others Institute for Collaboration and Art (MICA), an organization formed two years ago to bring attention to the challenges faced by women who are artists, mothers and caretakers.

MICA held a three-day festival in Oct. 2022 at 33 Hawley featuring the work of 40 women, but this year’s festival has been greatly expanded. It’s designed to embrace a broader number of themes, according to Lyza Fennell, MICA’s founder and managing director.

“MICAfest isn’t just about showcasing art,” Fennell said in a statement. “It’s about creating a space where m/other artists can reclaim their narratives and drive essential conversations about m/otherhood and social change.”

Fennel, who calls “m/other” an “inclusive term,” says gender stereotypes remain in the arts, leading to a lack of recognition and opportunities for women. For those who are artists and caretakers, there are any number of additional problems, from access to affordable childcare, isolation, and lower pay at jobs, she notes.

Some events in the festival have taken place, but others are on tap over the next two weeks, and visual art is on exhibit at the Northampton Center for the Arts, The New England Visionary Artists Museum, and the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity.

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Tonight (Friday, May 17),  “Mom-ologues Unfiltered,” a story, poetry and music jam, takes place at 7 p.m. at The New England Visionary Artists Museum, and a reception for artists exhibiting at the Bombyx Center takes place May 25 from 2 to 4 p.m.

For more information on MICAfest, visit experiencemica.org.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.