• Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births
    Juliana Rowen Barton, Michelle Millar Fisher, Amber Winick, Zoë Greggs, and Gabriella Nelson
    Center for Architecture and Design, Philadelphia
    Sep 10, 2021 to Nov 01, 2021
    Juliana Rowen Barton, Michelle Millar Fisher, Zoë Greggs, Gabriella Nelson & Amber Winick

“Maternity Care Coalition staff serving their clients in Philadelphia,” 1980s. Courtesy of Maternity Care Coalition and the University of Pennsylvania Library Archives (MSColl760, Box 44, Folder 56), Philadelphia

Designing Motherhood investigates 81 designs—iconic, profound, archaic, titillating, emotionally-charged, or just plain odd—that have defined the relationships between people, reproductive capacity, and babies during the last century. Palimpsestic in its approach, the exhibition, accompanying book, and programming use design as a lens through which to explore and expand conversations around the arc of human reproduction across communities and cultures to challenge preconceptions of design, architecture, and bodies. The project tackles evocative and emotionally charged spaces and objects, from birth environments and contraceptive devices, to boundary pushing maternity clothes, fetal monitoring devices, and designs that frame freighted choices around feeding, fashion, and fertility. Foregrounding designs across four categories—Reproduction, Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum—we look at the complex historical conversations and aesthetic contours that have shaped these most fundamental human experiences.

Juliana Rowen Barton is a historian and curator whose research centers on the intersections of race, gender, and design. Through her work, she strives to make a more equitable museum experience and to reframe perspectives on familiar objects and spaces. Currently, she is a Lecturer in Architecture at the Weitzman School of Design and an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Leading Edge Fellow at the Center for Craft. From 2017–19, she worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she coorganized Design in Revolution (2018) and was part of the curatorial team for Designs for Different Futures (2019–20). She has also worked on exhibitions at the Center for Architecture and The Museum of Modern Art, and she received training from the Center for Curatorial Leadership/Mellon Graduate Seminar in Curatorial Practice. She holds a doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's with highest distinction from the University of Virginia.

Michelle Millar Fisher is currently the Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Previously, she was the Madeira IV Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts and Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she coorganized Designs for Different Futures (2019). From 2014–18 she was a curatorial assistant at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where she coorganized, amongst others, Design and Violence and This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good and Items: Is Fashion Modern? She is completing her doctorate in architectural history at The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, and received a master's of philosophy from CUNY and an master's of arts and a master's of philosophy from the University of Glasgow. She has taught at Parsons The New School for Design, CUNY’s Baruch College, and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

Zoë Greggs is s a queer, Black, disabled Philadelphia-based artist and nonprofit administrator who serves as the community outreach coordinator at Maternity Care Coalition (MCC). Before joining MCC, she held positions at Philadelphia’s the African American Museum, the Smith Memorial Playground, and the Magic Gardens. She holds a bachelor’s in fine arts from the University of the Arts with a concentration in printmaking and book arts. In 2020, she participated in ArtWell’s Women of Equity fellowship program that champions the power of women identifying people of color as change agents to tackle institutional race and gender bias in their organizations and beyond. She is also the curatorial assistant for Designing Motherhood, and also coleads the Designing Motherhood Storybanking Initiative, which utilizes the power of storytelling to advocate for a future where caregivers can birth with dignity, parent with autonomy, and raise babies who are healthy, growing, and thriving. Through her passion for Black feminism, critical race theory, and systems change, she strives to create processes and joyful relationships that uproot systemic harm and shift mainstream narratives about our shared history and trajectory.

Gabriella Nelson is a mother and city planner, possessing a strong interest at the confluence of urban development, public health, and critical pedagogy. She currently works as the associate director of policy for Maternity Care Coalition, advocating for the best policies and practices regarding maternal-child health, and early learning. She believes the city is for everyone, especially for those who want to stay after bearing decades of disinvestment and devastation. Nelson has lectured widely on topics of maternal-child health, city planning and advocacy, including at TEDxPhiladelphia. She is interested in redesigning cities, systems, and policies that oppress and work against the liberation of those historically left behind. Nelson identifies as a problem-solver, an inquisitive thinker, and a creative whose experiences and opinions are deeply rooted in her womanhood, motherhood, and Blackness.

Amber Winick is a mother, design historian, writer, and curator. She holds a master’s in design history, decorative arts, and material culture from the Bard Graduate Center (BGC), and a bachelor's of arts from Sarah Lawrence College. She has received two Fulbright Research Fellowships, the first in art and architectural history in Hungary at the Iparművészeti Múzeum (Museum of Applied Arts) in Budapest; the second for 2021–22. Winick has lived and researched maternal and child-related designs, policies, and practices around the world. She has expertise in the designed systems, environments, and objects that empower (and disempower) us, particularly around birth, family leave, caregiving, schools, and early childhood. She has contributed to exhibitions at The Wolfsonian Museum, the BCG Gallery, and the Iparművészeti Múzeum. Winick writes for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum blog, as well as for Disegno and Vestoj, and has taught at Bard College and the New York School of Interior Design.