Birthing a Movement Celebrates Birth Workers at Three Rivers Arts Festival

WHAMglobal's Birthing a Movement multi-day event and exhibit at the Three Rivers Arts Festival received a great reception over the first weekend of June. Birthing a Movement included commissioned artwork, interactive artwork, local birthworkers discussing their work, and Anthropology of Motherhood's "Culture of Care Exhibit," a combination showcasing the power and emotion that goes into birthwork and celebrating the various frontline workers within maternal care. An estimated 7,000 attendees visited the Birthing a Movement exhibit during its opening weekend. The event was hosted in partnership with Anthropology of Motherhood (AoM), an ongoing curation of artwork and design that engages in the complex visual, material, and emotional experiences of motherhood, caregiving, and maternal labor.

The commissioned artwork created for Birthing a Movement included portraits of local birthworkers in Pittsburgh, action photos of maternity care, and testimonies of maternal healthcare workers. This artwork is now a permanent part of AoM's exhibit and will be shown at future galleries and festivals. Birthing a Movement could not have succeeded without Fran Flaherty, the curator of AoM, as well as Lena Chen, the artist responsible for the interactive Full Circle wreath exhibit.

"When I first conceived the idea of Anthropology of Motherhood, I did not have detailed goals in mind other than wanting to provide a space for caregivers to feel valued through my art practice. Working with WHAMglobal was such a compatible and heartfelt partnership that we were able to reach a unified goal," said Fran Flaherty, founder of Anthropology of Motherhood. "Remarkable things happen when artists partner with public health organizations. We are able to reach a broad audience that can make significant cultural changes to improve the quality of our lives."

Local birthworkers from across Pittsburgh were the event's biggest stars, as they also participated throughout the three-day opening weekend by speaking with guests, joining in Chen's wreath exhibit, and serving as subjects for the artwork.

"It was an honor to take part in such a beautiful experience," said Kieashia Edwell, founder and birth doula at Elephant Song Doula Services. "The Birthing a Movement event was an opportunity for my fellow birthworkers and me to feel supported and loved, and to share both the beauty and the hurt of this very important calling."

The organizations that were represented by the birthworker participants included AHN Midwives at Jefferson Hospital, Elephant Song Doula Services, Hello Neighbor, the PA Doula Commission, Serene Birthing, St. Clair Hospital, and The Midwife Center.

Birthing a Movement is an annual community event hosted by WHAMglobal to raise awareness and activate local moms, families, maternal health providers, experts, and the greater community around maternal health issues.

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