Beth Welch talked about finding her voice and discovering what she wanted to say with her artwork. She shared so many valuable tips for artists about working with museums and improving your chances when submitting to open calls or sending proposals to curators. Be organized! As hard as that may be, it makes such a big difference when you make the curator’s life easier. Her perspective as a museum professional offered insight into not only working as an artist with museums, but also connecting with museums as an educator and the ways museums serve as educational institutions.
Beth also spoke eloquently and beautifully about her own work and shared vulnerably about the impact of her mother’s stroke and dementia. I was in tears. You might hear some of my sniffles. I loved how she also shared how scary it is to put deeply personal work out into the world and to share the thoughts behind it. Yet, that is what creates such beautiful connections.
Beth Welch was born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1992. After graduating high school, she studied art for a year in Gorizia, Italy at Liceo Artistico M. Fabiani. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University School of Design in 2015 with her BFA. Through her current drawing series she explores motherhood and the mutable remembrances of childhood in the context of memory. She is the recipient of the Best in Show award for the national 2D juried competition at the Dallas Metro Arts Contemporary Gallery. She also received an Honorable Mention for her work in the 33rd Competition at the Alexandria Museum of Art. In 2021 she exhibited a solo exhibition at the Firehouse Gallery in Baton Rouge, La. Her work has been exhibited at the Alexandria Museum of Art, The Culture Center of Cape Cod, Dallas Metro Arts Contemporary, The Masur Museum of Art, I Like Your Work Podcast Summer Juried Competition, The Stay Home Gallery in Nashville Tennessee, Woman’s Work.Art in Poughkeepsie, New York, the Baton Rouge Court House, Southern University Innovation Center, Kellwood Contemporary Gallery, Commercial Interiors Group Baton Rouge, and Brownsville Museum of Fine Art. Welch has been published in Issue 20 of Create! Magazine. She has also been published in 225 Magazine, Country Roads Magazine, and In Register. She is a mentor with the Artist/Mother Podcast critique programs. Today Welch works as the Exhibitions Coordinator and Public Programs Coordinator at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She maintains her studio at her home in Geismar, Louisiana.
Memory is neither static nor absolute. The mind recalls memories imperfectly, adding and releasing details, never able to recall the elusive truth of personal history. Childhood memories are bound in this reality of remembered facts and forgotten particulars, true fictions unto themselves. Through my drawings of mothers and their children, I visualize the relationship between self-image and the memory of maternal figures. I achieve this virtual palimpsest by rendering remembered loved ones in the soft medium of charcoal, which contrasts with the clear, distinct pen-and-ink marks depicting the child.
No one teaches women how to be mothers. It is a skill learned through memory and emulation. A woman follows the teachings of the women who raised her, but only her own recollection of the lessons. Her memory is unerringly altered in the retelling of time. The maternal figures who so influenced her own course to motherhood are now only ghosts, hazy, their voices faint. By creating drawings of mothers in charcoal and their offspring in pen and ink I reflect on the blur of motherhood and the divide of the clarity of child rearing. The layers of vellum depict the separation of the past and future generations of women. Like memory, vellum slightly clouds and obscures the mothers. The images of the mothers are rendered in charcoal, which can be fuzzy, messy, and imprecise, like a child’s impression of a parent.
On the other hand, the children are drawn in pen and ink, which is tedious and painstaking and permanent – much the way parents view childrearing. Pen and ink requires study – every line deliberated upon and purposefully chosen, much like every decision in parenthood. A child does not notice a new line on a parent’s face, or a new gray hair; a parent notices every scrape and scratch, the precise shape of a new tooth or the tremor of a closed eyelid.These mediums explore simultaneously what it means to be the child of a mother, and the mother of a child. Through this series I explore motherhood and the mutable remembrances of childhood in the context of memory.