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Course reveals motherhood in new light

It’s not necessarily at the core of the course objectives, but students in Sally Dear’s  Monday seminar, Feminist Perspectives on Motherhood and Caring, say they’ve developed a new appreciation for their mothers.

The course, which frequently challenges the students to get outside their comfort zones, took them to The Art School in Vestal for two special classes last month. The students created journals and papier-mâché models of parts of their bodies in an effort to produce an artistic expression of their thoughts about motherhood and caring.                                    

Inspired by a recent local art show, Dear worked with Nancy Barno Reynolds, director
of The Art School, and instructor Susan Fassett to organize the art projects. The artwork Dear’s students created will be on display at Nezuntoz Café in Binghamton this month.

“Everybody is creative,” Fassett told the students. “It just takes a little bravery.”

Amy Woo, a senior human development major from Brooklyn, helped Sarah Kim, a junior biology major from Queens, create a model of her hands.

“I call my mom a lot more because of this class,” Woo said. “Not that I didn’t appreciate her before, but I have a growing appreciation of her.”

Kim said the class has changed her view of her mother, who was quite strict with her. “I never thought I’d have so many things to say about my mother,” Kim said. “She wasn’t just yelling for nothing.”

Dear, an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Human Development, said the class will prove relevant for her students, regardless of whether they go into social work, teaching, human resources or some other field.

I have this “iceberg theory,” she said. “We see what’s on the top of the water.”

This course helps students see beyond the surface of people’s lives and understand social constructs and relationships in a new way.

Dear begins the semester by discussing feminism and continues with discussions on topics such as pregnancy, adoption, health care, parenting and women in the workplace.

“Many of the students don’t see their moms as someone who was once their age,” she said. The class helps them consider the choices their mothers made in a different light.

Allison Siegel, a junior human development major from Rockland County, considers her mother her best friend. She, too, chose to mold her hands for the project. “It represents giving,” she said. “My mom’s very giving. She always puts her children first.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08