I walked into a local coffee shop the other day and a huge smile spread across my face. Why? As I looked around I saw images of pregnancy, labor and birth photography and art hanging on the walls. I am a junkie for this kind of stuff, seriously. I have a deep connection to pregnancy and birth and I LOVE art, so if there is ever a chance that the two come together, I get giddy like a young child would over her favorite dessert.
I believe that art has the power to not only make life more beautiful and to inspire the heart’s desires, but to also heal. So, when I stumbled across the art of Amy Haderer, I was blown away. She is a true pioneer of sacred pregnancy and birth art.
Creating Art to Represent the Emotions of Infertility
I follow Amy on facebook and recently saw a post with a question from her… she was asking her followers for feedback on what symbolism might represent a piece of artwork to speak for infertility. This caught my attention right away, since we work with thousands of couples each year who are struggling with infertility. I knew right away I wanted to interview Amy, so I could share a small piece of the incredible work she does for ALL women, regardless of where they are at in life. I know that if I love the work she is doing, so will you because it comes from an intuitive, creative and loving source.
Interview with Artist and Doula Amy Haderer
Dalene: First, tell us a little bit about yourself…
Amy: I am a doula (childbirth assistant), artist, and mother in Denver, CO. I live with my children plus my partner and three more kids (Brady Bunch!) and it’s fun and hectic and crazy all at once! I became a doula after the birth of my second daughter at a freestanding birth center. I became really involved and educated about the birth world and wanted to be a part of it and help others to advocate for themselves. I started doing birth/motherhood/goddess mandalas when I was pregnant with my third daughter as a way to center myself, get comfortable with being in my right brain which is where you are when you’re birthing, and visualize my birth. I never intended for the mandalas to be so public initially, they were pretty personal for me. But I shared them with some people and after a while people were blogging about them and sharing them so I figured I had better get organized.
Dalene: What led you to do a piece on infertility?
Amy: Though I haven’t experienced infertility myself I have had a number of friends struggle with it. My goal in my art is to represent a broad spectrum of experience about motherhood, even if that includes things like loss. I think it’s important that we honor those experiences as well. I have also done a piece on stillbirth and maternal mortality.
Dalene: What emotions were you feeling as you created this piece on infertility titled “Wishing and Waiting”?
Amy: My parents tried for about four years before becoming pregnant with me so I thought about that. I also thought about my midwife who caught my last baby at home and her seven year journey to accept that she would never bear biological children.
Dalene: How do you think art can help people experiencing great adversity and heartbreak, as couples do who are struggling to have a child of their own?
Amy: I think symbols are powerful and can sometimes communicate more than words can. Someone can see a piece of artwork and it will mean something different to them because it is steeped in their own experience. So, I think that creating a piece about something difficult can be very healing for people and can symbolize different things about their own journey.
Dalene: What are some tips for incorporating more art into one’s life? Where can a person get started?
Amy: The biggest challenge I think is overcoming a negative mindset to keep from becoming product-oriented. Lots of people don’t even try to be creative because they’re afraid they will fail at the finished product, when it’s the act of creating something that’s the most valuable. So just starting somewhere, anywhere, like playing with polymer clay and just feeling it and watching what shapes come of it. Or using coloring books can be helpful because the structure is already there. Also just doodling free-association style.
Dalene: I see that you also do henna art on pregnant mama bellies. I had henna done on my belly during my first pregnancy, it made me feel more connected to my pregnancy, as though it was a way to honor the changes and rite of passage to motherhood. What drew you to henna art and making this as part of your business?
Amy: I love henna because it’s a way to really bless a mama during pregnancy. The belly is the perfect canvas, especially for me because I see everything inside circles! I had henna on my belly for all three of my births and it just made me feel like a goddess, I loved it. I also love incorporating symbols that a pregnant woman is attracted to into the finished product to make something meaningful and almost spiritual.
Dalene: You are also a doula and a mother of 3, how do you have time to fit all of this in? What led you to become a doula?
Amy: I’m crazy and I don’t ever sleep? Honestly being divorced is a big part of this. Before I was divorced I was trying to do everything at once and failing at everything. It’s impossible to be present as a mother while running three businesses with small children running around. I was trying to do everything in 20 minute stretches and it was just ludicrous. So now that they spend 3.5 days a week with their dad it allows me to focus on my work for that time and then when they are with me I’m able to be content and present with them. I feel so much more balanced about my life. Plus I am really blessed to have such an awesome co-parenting relationship with my ex and an amazing partnership with my boyfriend Paul.
Dalene: I think the work you are doing is very important to women’s health and how the world views women, pregnancy and birth. In your personal opinion, why is the work you are doing important and who is it most important for?
Amy: I believe that as a society we have built up so much fear, manipulation, and misinformation about birth we’ve really forgotten who we are as women. We are too worried about being polite or “good patients” than we are about listening to ourselves and advocating what we want and need from our birth experience. I want to encourage birthing families to listen to their intuition and truly become active participants in their births, however they choose to birth. Peace on earth begins with birth and I want to do my part to support attached, healthy, intuitive families.
Dalene: Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Amy: Artistically I adore Amanda Greavette’s work, along with Mara Friedman and Durga Bernhard. My favorite sculptor is by far Debra Bernier, I adore her work! Birth-wise I am inspired by Ina May Gaskin, Barbara Harper, and Pam England.
“Art is good for the soul. It profoundly helped me through an emotionally trying pregnancy and continues to be my sanity even now.
Here are some tips for those who are scared because they “just can’t draw.” Don’t be afraid, you can surprise yourself and will be amazed at how peaceful you feel when you dive into your right brain!” – Amy
About Artist Amy Haderer
Amy is a doula, artist, and henna artist living in Denver, CO with her three beautiful daughters. She sells her artwork as originals, prints, cards, jewelry, banners, calendars and more.
Amy also books private sessions and parties for her henna at www.hennadenver.com