Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Helen Redman

Pregnant Artist Self-Portrait

Pregnant Artist Self-Portrait

Helen Redman. Pregnant Artist Self-Portrait, 1964.

During my ninth month of pregnancy, I created a series of drawings of my child to be, Nicole, as I imagined her inside of me. It was a way to survive the death of my first child Paula that occurred when I was pregnant with Nicole. In the midst of such continuing grief, I was nevertheless aware of artistic self-authorship: “Here is my body, my child is within, and I am drawing myself as both a woman artist and an expectant mother!”

The drawing is oil crayon on paper --a greasy, rough, expressionistic, scribbly medium that allows for no changes.  My natural drawing scale is just larger than life size and the color choices are emotional. While I stare myself down in the mirror, I review fetus development in birth manuals to prepare for a natural Lamaze childbirth.

I had been trained to perform like male artists--the "universal" model of the time. After having been through a death as a mother at the young age of 24, I needed my art to visualize a healthy life for the new baby. In 1964, when Abstract Expressionism was giving way to Minimalism, I was a recent University of Colorado MFA graduate living in Paris. After my child Nicole was born, I continued to chronicle her life from infancy to her own pregnancies and motherhood. Well before the feminist art movement encouraged us to examine and respect our experiences as women, I chose to weave my life as a mother into my art.


life cycles, healing, death, gaze, belly, pregnant, drawing, self-image

Pregnant Artist Self-PortraitNicole On My LapNicoleNicole EnceinteHot FlashingWilting BloomsOn Our Path

Helen Redman Pioneer of Feminist Art

San Diego, CA


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