Alison Croney Moses speaks with Matresence curator Catherine LeComte Lecce:



1.) Can you share your background and artistic journey with us, particularly regarding your evolution as an artist and how you came to work with wood?

I always like to root myself in my family. I grew up in North Carolina, and both of my parents are from Guyana, South America. Currently, I identify as an artist and a craftsperson.


I think that’s very much linked to how I was raised. My parents cooked a lot. We had a garden in our backyard, and my mom made some of our dresses. I learned how to sew clothes. We cooked together. I remember baking and learning how to cook all sorts of things.


My dad made some furniture pieces with hand tools under our carport. I helped, and I’m sure he was very patient, let’s put it that way, to have a very young child trying to help him build furniture.


It was from this perspective of wanting or needing these things in our lives and, therefore, doing it ourselves. They also very much supported my artistic passions, like wanting to draw and develop traditional 2D artistic skills.


They created space for that and allowed me to explore it at home. That’s the foundation of how I grew up. When it came to deciding on schools for college, I knew I wanted to go to an art and design school.


I applied to RISD, got in, received a scholarship, and decided to go there. Initially, I thought I would get a degree where I could make money, so I chose graphic design, thinking I could apply my art skills to a financially profitable medium. But I hated it, so I switched to furniture design.


All my friends were in furniture design and having fun, so I switched. I feel like I got to learn a craft, acquiring specific skills with particular materials. I went from knowing very little to having a foundation to do almost anything I wanted. I chose to make curved objects, not functional furniture, which is different from how I was trained. The foundation is there, but the product is different.


This is a long-winded way to answer the question, but it’s been a journey. I kept making decisions that brought me closer to this point. By the end of college, I really found my aesthetic in curved forms. Any prompt resulted in a curved object rather than a square or rectangular one.


Since then, I’ve maintained this approach. I’ve had full-time jobs since I left school, always working, even while in school. I’ve always held multiple jobs or professions. After school, I worked at Anderson Ranch in a crafts center during the summers and at a contemporary art museum in Denver. I always tried to keep making an object here and there, even if it was a couple of years in between. My main goal was to get into a wood shop to maintain my skills and passion.



2.) Can you walk us through your artistic process for the mess of preeclampsia your featured piece(s) in  Matresence? What inspired these works, and what message do you hope viewers take away from them?


First of all, I’m really grateful to be invited for the show. I feel like it makes sense in the trajectory of a lot of the work I’ve done recently. It kind of started when I had young kids.


This was right before the pandemic hit, around February of 2020. A curator invited me to participate in the Designing Motherhood exhibition, and that was when I started focusing more on motherhood, specifically Black motherhood, Black identity, and Black moms trying to raise kids in a society that is not built to support them.


During the pandemic, there was a racial awakening in white society around June 2020, triggered by the deaths of many Black people. At the time, I had a full-time job as an art administrator and kept thinking about what young people and their mothers were going through during this period of grieving. Specifically, what Black mothers were going through.


We already knew these issues existed in our society for many years, but now it was all over the news outlets and social media. We were being bombarded with visuals of police brutality and murder. It felt like we were dealing with something different than white society or any other race.


So, for that project, I proposed bringing together Black mothers to process these experiences, build community, and support each other on Zoom. We also had in-person gatherings led by Bintu Conte to help process and connect. This was when the pandemic restrictions first eased, allowing us to meet in person before locking down again.


This was the starting point of me really diving into my identity as a Black mother. As a younger artist, I often tried to put my identity aside to focus on the art or craft. Now, as an older artist with children, life is all-consuming, and I have to make work that reflects that reality.


I began creating a series of works exploring the body and our experiences. I did video recordings of our gatherings with Black moms, which were shown alongside other works. After the first series of gatherings, we did a joyous series to emphasize the importance of focusing on joy, not just sorrow. Black moms wanted to connect back to the joy of their childhood. We did a series called Unadulterated Black Joy, engaging in activities like hula hooping and skating, which were also captured in a video.


My work was focused on reclaiming my body and strength to participate in joy. At the time, I had diastasis recti and an umbilical hernia. Insurance only covers one, so I had to pay out of pocket for surgery. This led to my Unsewn series, using wood to represent the body and creating visceral, yet beautiful, wall-hanging pieces based on photos from the surgery.


The hernia and diastasis recti were from my first pregnancy and worsened by my second. After my second child, I experienced postpartum preeclampsia, which is rare and not well understood. I noticed slight swelling and, thanks to a friend who is a doctor, sought medical help in time to prevent serious complications.


I created a piece called The Mess of Preeclampsia to process this near-death experience. Many people go through similar experiences, but these narratives are often excluded from our societal discourse on women’s health, which tends to focus on superficial aspects like being thin and having clear skin.


Our health is much deeper than that. It involves our bodies, our strength, and our ability to give life. We need a medical system that treats us better. Black women have it worse than everyone else, and my experiences made me realize how close I came to dying.


These pieces are very visceral, personal, and intimate. I wanted to explore these experiences for myself. I’m usually focused on solving problems and making things happen, so it takes time for me to slow down and process what has happened to me. Years later, here I am making artwork about these experiences.


I’m grateful to show these pieces again. These experiences need to be brought into public view for us to see, embrace, and address. Women should not feel shame, discomfort, or fear, feeling like they have to hide their experiences.


Everyone was born from someone’s body, so we should be talking about and processing these experiences. We should own them and build a medical system that treats us better.




3.) What specific challenges did you encounter when you first became a mother while also balancing your career as an artist?


I talked a bit about the physical challenges I faced with postpartum preeclampsia and a hernia, and how it felt like my body had gone through so much—everything felt different.


In terms of balancing my career, I feel really grateful. I was working at the Elliott School of Fine and Applied Arts, a nonprofit. I don’t think anyone on the staff had had a kid before while employed there. So, I worked with them to craft the maternity leave policy before I had kids. I ended up having 12 weeks to myself and my child, and then I transitioned to working part-time.


I didn’t go back to teaching right away; I focused on administrative work, which gave me some flexibility. For the first eight months, it was manageable to work from home while my child napped. However, this arrangement normalized working all the time. If I couldn’t clock in at the office because my child was sick, I would work from home at night or during naps. This flexibility was a double-edged sword.


I was able to spend more time with my kids than many people. I maintained a part-time schedule until my second child went to daycare, then gradually moved to a near full-time schedule. The school remained flexible with me. As an art administrator, I did a bit of work here and there. After having a child, I made sure to create a new piece of artwork as soon as I could physically get back to the studio.


During those early years, I had a pretty good work-life balance. I managed my job, cared for my children, and maintained my art practice. However, it became much harder as my job required more from me and as my kids needed more attention. A five-year-old, for instance, wants to play and explore, which requires active engagement.


Balancing became especially challenging as I invested more in my art career. Eventually, I left my administrative job at the Elliott School at the end of 2023. Now, I teach a bit and spend three days a week in my studio, picking up my kids at three. My day is short, and managing everything feels like a jigsaw puzzle, Tetris, or Jenga game.


It’s about putting everything together without letting it fall apart, taking care of ourselves, our kids, our jobs, and paying the bills. Most days, it’s exhausting, but we get through it. People often say to be present and enjoy the moments when your kids are young. While I do try to be present, it can be overwhelming to hear that advice repeatedly.


It does go by fast, and I understand why—because there’s never a moment to rest. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to figure out how to rest and recuperate regularly so that I can be better for myself and everyone else.



4.) What advice would you give to other mother artists?


I have many thoughts when I hear that question. One thought is that I would like everyone to feel like they’re an artist in some way because we are. We’re humans. We create. What do you create? How do you create it? Have you given yourself the time and space to think about it? I think it does something to people, to our humanity. It does something to us as we live in this world to be able to shape it or feel like what we have to say is important enough to put it out there, whether it’s writing, music, drawing, or whatever. And I don’t care what it looks like; it just needs to be produced.


Therefore, all women, all mothers, and all folks with uteruses who can have babies and choose to do that are artists in some capacity. They made those little humans.


I don’t know if I have advice. I feel like advice means I have something really important for other people to learn. But what I want people to know is that they’re not alone in it. It’s simple. It’s not about doing one thing or another; it’s just saying you’re not alone. And if you feel alone, it means you need to find people who share a similar experience and can be there with you in it.


So I guess that’s the advice—you’re not alone. What I’ve tried to do for myself is ensure I’m around people with similar experiences so we can support each other. Even if we don’t have similar experiences in every aspect, we can relate to someone on particular things. For instance, maybe it’s not motherhood, but in other things, I find support.


Building community everywhere we go is essential, so we know we’re not in this alone and have a web that supports us. I feel like this is what’s missing in our society, especially in the medical system and the care for moms—that network of support is absent for many of them.



5.) How do you balance the perspectives of younger generations with your own experiences when addressing historical gaps in art education and representation?


I find myself trying to be open to learning from younger generations more and more, and that’s an awkward shift. I used to think of myself as a young voice trying to shout from the rooftops about the changes our society needs, the ones older folks weren’t paying attention to. Now, I find myself fitting into that older category more, and I’m working on being open to learning from younger generations because I think they have a lot to teach us.


This realization came up recently while organizing a panel about Nancy Elizabeth Proffitt, the first African-American woman to graduate from RISD. There’s going to be a RISD Black alumni reunion this spring to summer, and I’m going to moderate a panel. In my research about Nancy Proffitt, I discovered that I had no idea about her because she wasn’t included in most of my art history classes.


That’s partly my fault for not being able to stay awake in art history classes. But she also wasn’t included in many of the history classes overall. While planning this panel, a younger person pointed out that it’s correct she hasn’t been included. When we think about art history at RISD, why isn’t this person, the first African-American woman to graduate, included despite her significant art career and struggles with poverty, mental illness, discrimination, and racism, which are well-documented?


So, what I am learning from younger generations is that there is a different way to be in the world. I’ve grown up in a deficit mindset, not always having everything I needed or wanted, but still being happy and having to work hard in school. Life often felt like a struggle, and I had to figure out how to enjoy it and love life despite the challenges.


The younger generations, however, are not politely asking for what they need; they are demanding it because they believe they deserve it. In planning this panel, I realized that the absence of Nancy Proffitt in RISD’s history meant that Black students didn’t see themselves represented. This absence is significant. What I’m trying to learn and shift my mind towards is living in a plentiful and positive mindset. If Nancy Proffitt’s story was included and nurtured, it could have changed the supportive experience for Black students at RISD, myself included.


The younger students are aware of what was missing and ensure their education includes those gaps. Their experience and perspective are different because they assume they deserve inclusion and representation. This assumption is empowering.


As someone with a background in arts education and working with youth, I realize I have to be open to shifting my mindset. If I don’t, it’s easy to become entrenched in my views, which can lead to mistakes later in life. Our views must always be changing because society is always changing. This realization isn’t specific to art; it can be applied to anything.


As I prepare for this panel, I’m grappling with how to approach this, feeling the loss of an education that others had but Black students like myself missed. So, instead of giving advice, I’m choosing to learn from the younger generations and keep trying to be better.