PEI

Mother-daughter art show explores grief around pregnancy loss and infertility 

A mother-daughter art show at the Guild in Charlottetown explores the grief around pregnancy loss and infertility, to find healing, but also to help others.

'For somebody to come down here and see it in colour, on walls, I think is a really powerful statement'

Jennie Thompson, right, used watercolour paintings for the exhibit, while her mother, Elaine, created pieces out of wool and silk. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

A mother-daughter art show at the Guild in Charlottetown explores the grief around pregnancy loss and infertility, to find healing, but also to help others.

"We chose Metamorphosis because this whole exhibit is about transformation," said Jennie Thompson.

"The transformation you experience when you're going through grief, when you're experiencing miscarriages and what that looks like, and how it can change you as a person."

Jennie uses watercolour paintings for the exhibit, while her mother, Elaine, creates felted pieces out of wool and silk. 

Jennie Thompson says the painting called My Grief represents the heaviness that she felt as she was going through pregnancy losses and experiencing depression. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"I wanted to do it with my mom because at its core, a lot of this art is about, for me anyway, about being a mother, that journey toward motherhood," Jennie said.

"Plus, it's a really personal topic and I'm really vulnerable so mom adds that extra support for me."

Jennie Thompson says art for her is part of the healing process. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

This is Jennie's first art show, a challenge she said she took on to help her heal after four pregnancy losses since 2016.

"This exhibit, it wasn't just for me, but also for other people who are going through the same thing, because it can be such an isolating experience," she said.

"For somebody to come down here and see it in colour, on walls, I think is a really powerful statement and it's just a way to let other people know they're not alone, and it does suck."

Jennie Thompson calls this painting The Cycle and writes: 'Grief during a fertility journey is like a cycle. You hope, you experience loss. Repeat.' (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Supporting other women

Jennie is part of the P.E.I. Fertility/Infertility Support Group on Facebook and hopes to start offering virtual peer-support meetings.

"It's pretty powerful, it's really vulnerable, when this journey first started for me, I wouldn't talk about it to anyone," she said.

"But the other part of it was, there is this stigma around pregnancy loss. We're not supposed to tell people we're pregnant until we're three months in, so think of how isolating that is."

Elaine Thompson says Mother Earth has her hands holding the earth, which is her way of telling her daughter that she also is not alone. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

She said she hopes to let other women know that there are people they can talk to.

"For women who lose their pregnancy that they had hoped so much for, after eight weeks, nine weeks, they feel like they can't tell anyone about it. So this is my way of saying, you absolutely can," she said. 

"When you do feel ready to have people come to you and say, 'That happened to me too,' you find out that you're not alone."

Jennie Thompson, right, says doing the exhibit with her mother gave her some much-needed support. (Submitted by Jennie Thompson )

"It's such a common, unfortunate experience for a lot of women," Thompson said.

"I think it's just really important to break down that stigma, and that barrier for women." 

'Extremely proud'

Elaine said she feels extremely proud to be doing the art exhibit with her daughter. 

"She knows that being able to speak about this, and share it with other people, that she's not only trying to help herself, but she's trying to help others," Jennie said.

"I could not be more proud of her, and the fact that she asked me to be part of it, that just gives me chills to my toes."

Elaine Thompson created the felted wool butterflies in honour of her mother who has passed away. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Jennie echoed her mother's feelings. 

"I feel really proud, and I feel really proud to have done it with my mom," she said.

"I think this is an amazing memory that we will have forever."

Jennie Thompson says she didn't want the exhibit to just be sad but also hopes it will be inspirational. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

The exhibit continues until Dec. 5 at the Guild in Charlottetown. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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