Artist Michelle Hartney Launches MOTHER'S RIGHT Kickstarter Campaign

Artist Michelle Hartney Launches MOTHER'S RIGHT Kickstarter Campaign

May 1, 2015 (USA) - Launching for Mother's Day, the MOTHER'S RIGHT Kickstarter campaignsupports artist Michelle Hartney's conceptual installation and performance piece addressing the United States' high rates of maternal mortality, postpartum PTSD, and obstetric abuse. Hartney is sewing 1,200 hospital gowns-one for every mother who died in childbirth in America in 2013-each hand silk-screened on apparent hospital-gown fabric, but with designs composed of tiny drawings the artist has created of the plant derivatives of the drugs that have been used on laboring women for the past 150 years, many to the detriment of women and children. MOTHER'S RIGHT will culminate with a performance in collaboration with the annual "Rally to Improve Birth" campaign-held on September 7, 2015 in over 100 cities across America. The Chicago performance will happen on the grounds of Chicago's civic heart, the Richard J. Daley Center.

In the performance, several pairs of women will stand facing one other, folding the handmade gowns into triangles-similar to the way the American flag is folded at the funeral of a solider. The traditional flag-folding ceremony includes twelve symbolic folds, with the ninth fold symbolizing womanhood. These custom-made hospital gowns have been cut to a length where the fabric stops on the ninth fold. The third chapter in Hartney's Obstetrics in America series-preceded by Our Past and Birth Words-the project was initially influenced by Hartney's own experiences giving birth to her daughter and son. While both births were empowering, there were aspects of both that were deeply troubling. These feelings led the artist to research the history of obstetrics to better understand the birth process, and the delicate dynamic between doctors, nurses, and mothers. Hartney was shocked to discover that the medical practice of contemporary American birth is rooted in a past that is riddled with misogyny, racism, and abuse.

Moreover, according to the World Health Organization, since 1995, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has increased 250%-and is ranked at the top of all developed countries globally. In 2013, eight countries reported an increase in maternal mortality rates: Afghanistan, Belize, El Salvador, Guinea-Bissau, Greece, Seychelles, South Sudan, and the United States-which was the only developed country on the list. The United States spends three times more money on childbirth than Great Britain, yet our maternal mortality rate is over three times higher. Among these numbers, African American women are four times more likely to die during childbirth in the U.S. than Caucasian women. With Kickstarter campaign incentives designed by the the artist, MOTHER'S RIGHT seeks to bring awareness to these issues and to some of the basic human rights that are being violated on a daily basis in the United States.


Michelle Hartney is a Chicago based artist whose work addresses a broad range of topics-from women's health issues, to the concept of heroes, love, and the cosmos. She works in a variety of materials, including fiber, wood, found objects, and most recently, performance. Her interest in using art to address social issues began during her graduate studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was an Albert Schweitzer Fellow.