Tibbie Dunbar

It is the eve of my presentation at BIG CITY Forum #19 and I sit writing in my office here at A+D Museum surrounded by....my children. Well there are only two so “surround” is a bit of an exaggeration. However I am surrounded by very strange noises emitting from my iphone as my daughter plays some app and by the scent of a minty water concoction that my son has mixed and is drowning his Lego people in mercilessly.

The system in play here is happy chaos.

Flash to the face of my daughter as a two month old infant hanging out in the Baby Bjorn on my chest staring up at me with such concern. Yes her little two month old face was definitely registering concern as her mother wept uncontrollably. We had stopped by my studio and I was overwhelmed by the feeling that my life was now forever altered and that the me that was would never be again.

When my son was born I was in full swing as the new “me.” In fact I had pretty much forgotten what life without children was like. I so loved maternity leave! Lilly was off at pre-school, Liam was a big fan of long naps and I did a series of drawings in my now home studio. I was just a mom and an artist. “Just” – it is a lot - but I mean I was and am so supremely happy in those roles.

Soon after Liam was born I added on another role. I had always been a working mom but becoming Director of A+D Museum was a career, a challenge of great magnitude and creative reward. My children, my art, my role as Museum Director now interweave creating a tapestry that is at times threadbare by exhaustion but always rich in color and texture; a pattern of happy chaos.

A poem: to Liam my son from when you were a baby

On my lap
A mannerist baby
Way out
Beyond my thighs
All torso and legs
Dwarfing the room
I am an inadequate bolster
For his head
That bumps the table
Despite my motherly jerks
And contortions
Soft gloves of flesh
Close and open onto me
We are gripped in composition
Madonna and Child
El Greco’s school

A poem: to Lilly my daughter from when you were four years old

You are so pleasing
In just your everythingness
It is enough

You are jumping rope
For the first time

And our cheeks
Grab at our ears

Tibbie Dunbar