Featured Image: Stella Maria Baer
Artist Stella Maria Baer began by painting moons using subtle and serene colour palettes, but now, she is using her skills in creating tones, detail and shape and applying them to female form. In her paintings of breasts, or ‘melon moons’ as the supporters of her artwork on social media has titled them, Baer celebrates all colours, sizes and shapes they may be. In doing so, the accepted aesthetic of breasts in the media, which is typically sexualised, is challenged by a female’s perspective.
I read a lot about breastfeeding before Wyeth was born but nothing could have prepared me for the reality of nursing a newborn. My milk supply was super low and even though four different lactation consultants told me Wyeth didn’t have a tongue tie, breastfeeding was painful and he wasn’t gaining weight, and I kept wondering. I literally pumped and nursed all day long for about a month trying to build up my supply. Finally I found a tongue tie specialist who confirmed Wyeth had a tie and recommended I rent the most powerful breast pump I could. Once the tie was cut and I started pumping with a hospital grade pump my milk came in like crazy – I could literally squirt Seth from across the room. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest but most beautiful things I’ve ever done. I never would have made these paintings a year or two ago. But after the past year I have such awe for all our breasts do and are, for how they change over time, for the story they tell of the power and beauty of a woman’s body. Milk Moons 2017 14 x 20″ watercolor on cotton #breastfeeding #breastfeedingart #watercolor #contemporaryart #modernart #dscolor #dscollections #dsart #dspink #aquarelle #skintones #artistmama #madetocreate #stellamariabaer #motherhood #igmotherhood #millennialpink #millennialmom
After becoming a breastfeeding mother in the past couple of years, it is clear that Baer felt compelled to share a celebration of breasts. In defending her work from being absurdly denounced as derogatory towards women, Baer commented that: ‘I have such awe for all our breasts do and are, for how they change over time, for the story they tell and the power and beauty of a woman’s body.’ Brilliantly, she is taking ownership as a woman over portrayal of this feature of a woman’s body and championing it as a female’s story. Moreover, she commented that her work aims to ‘celebrate, honour and empower women’ hence her paintings of breasts celebrates what many women today are conditioned to believe should be altered to be made aesthetically pleasing. This then highlights the issue of women having an image in mind of what their breasts should look like to be considered beautiful. Who is to find them beautiful? Additionally, who is portraying these ‘perfect’ images of breasts in decision of what they should look like and for what reason?
In reclaiming this part of the female body through painting, Baer illuminates the importance in presenting non-sexualised, diverse and celebratory images of breasts. In reaction to her work, a viewer online had commented: ‘I see my babies and my ethnicity in this artwork…thank you for painting the beauty in breasts for every woman’. Therefore it is liberating to see the purpose of breasts, whatever shape and colour they may be, to be presented in a charmingly beautiful way. Triumphantly, the artist is presenting the look of breasts to represent the story they tell for women and, in turn, is giving women the authorial power of representing their own bodies. Thankfully, women finally have a portrayal of their breasts which is not only as aesthetically beautiful but representative of a beauty that isn’t visible. Yet, what breasts represent is perhaps the strongest sense of beauty in the world: the bond between a mother and her child.