The Queer Birth Project
Project website: https://www.thequeerbirthproject.com/
Social media: @thequeerbirthproject
Representation and inclusion around birth and family building plays a significant role in expanding cultural ideas, ensuring access to healthcare, and building community. Yet discussions of childbirth in western art and culture have long excluded the lives of lesbian women and non-conforming bodies and families. From DIY to IVF, scholarly and artistic attention to queer (LGBTQ+) childbirth and same-sex parenting is still relatively new, and there are unique physical, emotional, legal, and psychological challenges that are imposed by mainstream society.
The Queer Birth Project is a five year research-based project with the goal of documenting and sharing the childbirth experiences of queer (LGBTQ+) people in America. The structure of this project is based on feminist artist Judy Chicago’s Birth Project (1980-85). In 1981, Chicago posed the question: how do women feel about all aspects of birth? To answer this question, she conducted an original survey and then collaborated with needleworkers in the United States to create a series of visual artworks that were displayed across the country. Forty years later, using Chicago’s archives from the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard as a model, this project asks: how do queer people feel about all aspects of birth? This project directly recognizes the significance of visibility and seeks to promote an intersectional and radically inclusive view relating to childbirth in America.
The Queer Birth Project includes:
1) Original Data Collection: A mixed-methods social science research study that uses surveys and interviews to collect birth narratives and reflections on queer identities, bodies, and families.
2) Production: A series of sculptures and public installations based on survey responses and research. Works will be produced in collaboration with queer and feminist identifying neon/ glass artists.
3) Lectures: A series of lectures that connect the installations to the archive, make the case for arts research as practice, and share an urgent call for representation and inclusivity in childbirth and family building.
4) Publications: A series of scholarly and popular publications based on this collaborative research.
5) Archiving: A collection of our survey data and interview transcripts, along with manuscripts, images, and resources that document the birth stories of female, queer, and non-binary people in America.