Published July 26, 2017
Every mother’s fear — a wandering child — is the subject of this summer’s installment of Screen Projects, the UB Art Galleries’ public art video initiative.
“The Distance I Can Be From My Son,” a series of videos by interdisciplinary artist — and mother — Lenka Clayton, is on view outside the second-floor gallery of the UB Art Gallery in the hallway across from the elevator through Sept. 5.
Clayton is founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood, a self-directed, open-source artist residency to empower and inspire artists who are also mothers.
In this series of videos made in 2013, Clayton tries to objectively measure the distance she can be from her young son in three different situations — a city park, a back alley and a supermarket. At the park, almost a minute and a half elapses before Clayton jogs after her son as he toddles farther and farther away from her. He makes it 55.8 yards. In the alley, he is 45.9 yards from Clayton before she runs after him, and in the supermarket, he is down the aisle and around the corner when she appears — only 18.6 yards.
The humor of this small child bobbling away from his mother is mixed with anxiety when he gets far away or out of sight. While the videos might pull at the viewer’s heartstrings, they also speak to Clayton’s manifesto for An Artist Residency in Motherhood, which allows motherhood to shape the direction of her work, rather than try to work “despite it.”