January 22 – May 6, 2024

MOTHERCRAFT, an ongoing series by artist Toni Pepe, uses press photographs found in flea markets, eBay, photo morgues, and other archives, to reconsider portrayals of motherhood.

The back of each original image includes handwritten notes, press stamps, dates, clippings, and cataloging information. These marks, along with creases, stains, and fingerprints, add layers to the photographs, challenging the static quality of the image.

In making the series, Pepe backlights each photograph, then rephotographs it, compressing the front and back into a single plane. Pepe’s approach destabilizes the relationship between text and image, and reconfigures the ephemerality of the original photographs.

The photographs Pepe collects represent shifting perspectives on motherhood, socially and politically. Her reuse of them interrogates how motherhood and caretaking have been seen as taboo, marginal, or unworthy of scholarly attention, while also exploring photography’s role in record-keeping, memory, and myth-making.

About the artist

Toni Pepe (b.1981 Boston, lives in Boston) is a visual artist whose creative practice is grounded in photographic processes, memory, storytelling, and identity as seen through a feminist lens. Found photographs from private and public collections play a crucial role in her practice. Pepe often uses vernacular or press imagery to explore different modes of collecting and preserving knowledge.

Pepe is chair and assistant professor of photography at Boston University where she helped launch a new MFA program in Print Media and Photography.