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Trust Birth and Femme Fantasy: Two female art shows at Soft Water Studios

"In many ways, a painting is like the birthing process. There is Conception. In life this is fertilization - a union of cells. In art, I like to think of it as the same thing. I am constantly peppering my mind with images, thoughts, and colors. Sometimes one of those thoughts ignites and unifies with my creativity into an idea," said Melanie Rich Van Houten. "Then comes the Pregnancy. Like an incubation period, though with art the timing is not always the same. A human birth process generally takes nine months. With art, it just depends on what is being born. With this particular painting I knew I had only five days! I had to coax this baby to grow up fast! Then, BIRTH! Spectacular, miraculous, WOW. You can hardly believe you had anything to do with the CREATION of it!"

Melanie Rich Van Houten created this painting for the exhibit. She showed her process on her blog. See her work at The Fickle Fish, -
Melanie Rich Van Houten
Katrina Hollon, LM, CPM Licensed Midwife, Holistic Maternity 727-565-8798,
Katrina Hollon

Artist Melanie Rich Van Houten, in her blog, The Fickle Fish, shared the process of creating her lovely painting for the show, as well as her thoughts about the process as she created her piece, step by step. She described her painting for the Trust Birth show as "every woman - birth does not discriminate.The process of pregnancy is a metamorphosis - thus the butterfly on her finger. It takes a village. Women should be nurturing women through this process. No woman should ever have to go it alone."

Katrina Hollon, a home birth midwife and the organizer of the Trust Birth art show, is devoted to making sure that women have support, both in real life giving birth, and with their visual art in a show about giving birth, now in its second year. The show opens on February 8, 2014 at Soft Water Studios.

“Restoration of the soulfulness, the magic, the intimacy of childbirth is essential to humanity. Knowing that we can trust ourselves and each other stirs up confidence and guides us to living an authentic life," said Katrina Hollon.

The Second Annual Trust Birth Art Exhibition
Presented by Holistic Maternity and Village Birth Circle
Opens During the Second Saturday "Sweetheart" Art Walk, a Trolley Stop, February 8, 2014, 5 pm to 10 pm
Show on exhibit through March 08, 2014
Event page on Facebook
Soft Water Studios
515 22nd Street South, Unit F
St. Petersburg, Florida, 33712
(727) 480-8754
The Soft Water Studios gallery and artists’ workshop space is located in the Warehouse Arts District in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Visit the Soft Water Studios web site and Facebook page.
Get the map to the Second Saturday Trolley Route here.

The show is an exhibition of artworks focused on the moment of birth, inspired by the loving potential of a natural birth at home. Also at the opening:

  • Spoken Word
  • Art Raffle
  • Beer and Wine
  • Food Trucks
  • KID's ART making table! The space is very kid-friendly this year!

Show organizer Katrina Hollon, LM, CPM, is a Licensed Midwife at Holistic Maternity, offering complete maternity care and homebirth services, a thoughtful approach to pregnancy and childbirth. “Laura Irmis, Artist and Childbirth Educator, was instrumental in getting this show started,” Hollon said. “Last year it was held in January at Charlie Parker Pottery, an artist studio in the Warehouse Arts District. Lisa Russell is a student midwife, and she’s also helping to put the show together this year.”

“Home birth is not the norm in our society right now,” Katrina Hollon said. “We want to use the word ‘restoration’ when thinking of this art show. We want to inspire restoring the process of birth back to the sacred, magical, intimate experience it can be.”

“People are programmed to go to the hospital and do what they are told,” Hollon said. “By contrast, home birth is a way of taking your own health care and birth experience and keeping it in your control. It’s your choice, your decision and your responsibility.”

“The art show is a way to take some of the fear out of birth, giving people a different ‘feel’ for birth”, said Hollon. “We want to give people a true feel for natural birth. People fear medical complications. It’s my idea that we don’t make decisions from fear and that birth is a natural process. I’m well trained in every complication that can occur. We are prepared, and we only try home birth with a natural, healthy pregnancy and are not expecting complications. I do complete maternity care, and I’ve been working with the mother throughout the entire pregnancy. I make medical suggestions but they are always the parents’ decisions.”

Hollon emphasizes that she is very grateful for hospitals for what they do. “They fix problems,” she said. “We just feel a normal birth should be at home. In my work, I want to put the soulfulness, the majesty, the magic back into birth. In home birth, the baby is never taken from the dad or the mom. The father is not separated or pushed away. In general, there are options that are going to give you a more rich experience."

Laura Irmiss is participating in the art show for the second year. She showed her ceramic piece, a finger tracing labyrinth, with the title, “Meditating Mama”, 8” around, $75. “The idea is to use it during meditation and birth, to calm your brain waves and help ease pain of labor, “ Irmiss said.

“I am pretty obsessed with art and birth these days,” she said. “My current work, titled ‘Imminent Ritual’ certainly reflects this passion. The work is focused on the idea/concept of using rituals in daily life and using hand made tools during the rituals. The stars of the show are my finger-tracing labyrinths. I wanted to created a hand made, special piece of art a woman could use during labor to help her relax and help manage pain.”

“As an artist in the exciting birth world, as a childbirth educator and postpartum doula, I become enlightened and inspired by the concept of using art as a tool during labor and birth,” Irmiss said. “It is clear that labyrinths have been used for millennia as tools for rituals and ceremonies, but I wanted to create ceramic hand-held labyrinths to be able to use in the water. I added texture, drew words of inspiration and added a clear glaze so they could be submerged in water during water births.”

“Studies have been done on brainwaves of people while they have traced a labyrinth,” said Irmiss. “Walking or finger-tracing a labyrinth invokes a sensation and guides the viewer through meditation. Alpha brainwaves are produced when your attention is focused in meditation, using a labyrinth, and creative visualization, and the waves are even stronger when your eyes are closed. These Alpha brainwaves are slow, (9 to 14 cycles per second) and create a feeing of well-being. The brainwaves induce calming changes in the mind and body, lowering the heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones.”

Artist Carrie Jadus, who has her work space at Soft Water Studios, created a piece for the show with the title, "Cross Section of Creation", 40” X 30", Oil Paint on Panel, $2200, “This Piece was inspired by a realization that came when I had my first child,” Jadus said. ”The pregnancy was unplanned and I had not mentally prepared for all of the physical and mental changes that I was about to embark upon. Without realizing it, I had been a blossoming flower that instinctually opened up by the romance of life and began to be pollinated. I realized as my body began to change that I had no choice but to trust the natural order of life and accept that there were forces beyond my control at work here.”

“We had about a dozen artists in the show last year,” Laura Irmiss said. “This year there are about twenty five, so it’s growing. The show was very well attended last year, and we expect a good size crowd this year. It’s really exciting for the artists and the community.”

“It’s a very different show,” said Irmiss. “It’s a way to express your joy and passion. The primary goal for the art show is, I want to support local artists. I want artists to make a living from their art, so we want our artists’ work to sell.”

“The second thing is to raise awareness of home birth, and to trust in the process of natural childbirth,” she said.

Jennifer, owner of Thank you Mama, helped collect art for the show, and has a wonderful resource for pregnancy and postpartum in St. Petersburg.

Bevin O'brien created a whimsical watercolor, one of a panel that she put together in a vertical series hand sewn together. She provides many homebirth mothers with lactation and postpartum support too.

Melissa Loera said, "Last year I was proud to be featured in the lineup of many talented local artists and birth advocates from across the Tampa Bay community, and I was so pleased to be invited to show another painting again. As a childbirth doula and artist myself, I believe that surrounding yourself with birth-positive art is absolutely beneficial to all women, and especially expectant mothers. This show is meant to uplift all women, not just those who have had a natural or home birth."

Her painting in the show is, “Weightless / Transition”, acrylic on wood by Melissa Loera. Approx. size: 18" x 18" She explained that her Inspiration for her piece was that, "Many women experience a trance, like during labor. The body’s intuition takes over and shuts out the rest of the world, savoring those last moments of sharing one body with your child. Powerful endorphins and hormones are released, creating an almost psychedelic experience. During my son’s birth, floating in a tub of warm water intensified this sensation. My son labored in my womb, as I labored in the womb-like environment of the birth tub. My thoughts melted away and I surrendered. It was as if the water in the tub, the amniotic fluid my son was suspended in and the water within my very cells became one, in one intensely powerful, unifying experience."

Click on the slide show with this article to see more of the art and artists involved in Trust Birth.

The next show coming up at Soft Water Studios also has a feminine theme. It is called, “Femme Fantasy,” and it opens after Trust Birth closes on March 8, 2014. Mediums include photography, paintings, drawings, sculpture and more.

UPDATE: View photos from the First Annual Femme Fantasy by "Downtown Carol Gallagher".

Join Soft Water Studios for the First Annual Femme Fantasy!
Event page on Facebook
Friday, March 14, 2014

On Friday, March 14, the area’s best female artists show you their fantasies. Expect a provocative, intriguing, and sensually charged evening of feminine creativity.
Cover charge - $10.00
Femme Fantasy will cover the entire 1,500 square foot gallery with depictions of female fantasies. There will be “living female art” as well. Traditionally, art has been all about male fantasy. This is a show of the female perspective. The show is juried by Leslie Neumann. Visit the Soft water Studios web site and Facebook page.

Musical performance by Kassandra
Food trucks from Maggie on the Move and the CA CAFE.
Henna designs by Jen's Henna Fan Page
Tarot Card Readings by Courtney Crouch
Female hula hoopers and fire dancers

While you browse, enjoy an adult beverage, soda or water for a donation (All donation proceeds will benefit the Warehouse Arts District Association). Show will be photographed by DOWNTOWN CAROLS PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAROL GALLAGHER.

Thank you to the show in kind sponsors: Keep Saint Petersburg, Grand Central District Association, 3 Daughters Brewing, Cheers! Events, and The Amsterdam.

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