Toni Pepe: An Ordinary Devotion
“Ordinary devotions” can particularly refer to the responsibilities associated with motherhood and caregiving, and this exhibition uses mixed media and installation-based work to explore these specific rituals. Pepe notes that the labor historically performed by women, including housework and childcare, is often invisible. It exists outside of the economy, unseen by the census, and excluded from the gross domestic product of a country.
Toni Pepe’s works explore the artifacts of caregiving and the contradictions in their practice; each subject can be equally about violence and abuse as it is devotion and nurturing, and her works reference that fact. We are living in an urgent time regarding the politicization and power dynamics over women’s bodily autonomy. There are societal expectations and intensive debates as to what a body should sacrifice in the name of motherhood. The immense physicality of care takes a toll, mentally and physically. Toni Pepe’s works make visible the unseen work of motherhood while laying bare accepted visual tropes of woman as caregiver.
Mothercraft , 2022, Archival inkjet print
“For nine months before the baby’s born, its constant lullaby has been the heartbeat of its mother. this is one reason a baby needs to be held close to its mother. It’s part of “mothercraft.”
Off Playing Bridge , 2022, Archival inkjet print
“Dennis O’Neal, 6 months, screaming for his mother who is off playing bridge.”