Balancing Act 3

Balancing Act 3

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Artist: Eleanor Oakes
Title: Balancing Act 3, 2022
Archival Inkjet Print from Salted Paper Print Made with Breastmilk
9" x 13.5" (unframed)


"milk and tears" is a series of salted paper prints speaking to my experience with new motherhood. Made from my own breastmilk, images of my son reference a legacy of classical sculpture and the intimacy of parenthood, and are complemented by still lifes of balanced blocks that serve as a metaphor for our societal ideal of trying to balance our work and home lives to “have it all.” While salt prints display a wide-range of color and tonal discrepancies, their variations here remind us that our bodies are not machines, but imperfect organisms. Using breastmilk as the salting solution in this work literally adds my own bodily labor to the print, and replicates the labor and sacrifice of parenthood. It also interjects a uniquely feminist narrative into this historical process.


Eleanor Oakes is photographic artist based in Detroit, MI. She is Assistant Professor of Photography at the College for Creative Studies, and founder of Darkroom Detroit, a local non-profit that increases access to photography and visual literacy. Her work has been featured internationally in numerous exhibitions and publications, including at Wayne State University (Detroit), University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame), Tyler Wood Gallery (New York and San Francisco), the University of the Arts (Philadelphia), Simone de Sousa Gallery (Detroit), N’Namdi Gallery (Detroit), Beyond Magazine (Germany), Detroit Sequential, among others. She was an Applebaum Emerging Artist Resident at Ponyride (Detroit) where she completed the collaborative public art project, “Graffiti Wanted,” to include residents in an open dialogue about governmental censorship, and is the recipient of awards including the Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award from the San Francisco Foundation.