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Kelley Jordan Schuyler: A Portrait of Motherhood

June 7 @ 6:00 pm - July 7 @ 10:00 pm


Behind/beneath/before every person, is an individual who became a mother. What does the word “motherhood” mean to you?

Our culture holds little room for the nuanced and transformative journeys that are the birth and postpartum experience, the transition to motherhood, the identity shift, the lifetime it takes to get to know your child, the reality that parenthood is a never-ending exercise in letting go.

In hindsight, it’s no surprise that motherhood isn’t what I thought it would be. I entered into the journey with a plan: an unmedicated birth at a birthing center; parenting with strict boundaries and consistency in order to sculpt my child into an ideal human; preservation of my own identity as a person, partner, artist. After a traumatic c-section, a grueling 24-hour wait to meet and hold my son, and a NICU stay, after a global pandemic that left us all isolated, and with a brilliant and curious and clingy and sensitive boy, I am still learning that motherhood is not so interested in our plans.

This series began as an effort to find myself in my life as a mom, to avoid becoming consumed by my role as caretaker, and to reframe my lamenting of what was not into an appreciation for what is. Capturing these parenting moments helped me rise above the big emotions of the time and see the beauty and the comedy, the agony and the peace in the mundane.

As Karen Maezen Miller writes in Momma Zen, “… the most devastating loss is not the loss of sleep, it is the loss of what you thought was yours.” I felt this loss immediately and this series has helped me let go of my original vision of motherhood and embrace the experience of motherhood that is mine.

Through this work, I hope to create more space for the complexities of the motherhood experience, to give more room for the fierceness of the love, the depth of the overwhelm, the pain of the isolation, and the true joy that can be found in mothering in community. I share these photos to validate the role and experience of all mothers. I hope this particular view of motherhood offers a sense of solidarity to all, especially those who feel alone in this monumental, mundane endeavor.

Artist bio:

Kelley Jordan Schuyler uses photography to capture light, emotion, and moments as they unfold around her. Since receiving a camera at age 15, it has become an extension of her self and a way to make meaning of the world around her – the subtleties and nuances she’s attuned to as a Highly Sensitive Person; the natural world she cares for as a forager and plant enthusiast; and the relational dynamics she’s mindful of as a partner, friend, and mother. Professionally, she photographs families as Kelley Jordan Photography and food as Skyler Creative, and she co-runs Mad Farmers’ Nursery, a plant nursery in downtown Indianapolis. Personally, she raises a small human as Mom.


June 7 @ 6:00 pm
July 7 @ 10:00 pm


Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St.
Indianapolis, IN 46203 United States
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