This project is a three-chapter series of handmade collages that draw inspiration from the concept of Maternal Imagination. This notion, prevalent in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries, associated many cases of monstrous births, characterized by physical anomalies, with the idea that maternal thoughts during pregnancy could directly influence the developing fetus, resulting in congenital disorders at birth. The belief in the vulnerability of the female body to external events can be traced back to various historical texts. For instance, it was believed that a pregnant woman who was startled by a frog could imprint her perceptions onto the body of her child, leading to the child having webbed fingers or toes, or a frog-like head. Similarly, prolonged fixation on an image of Christ could lead to the birth of a bearded child.
In this historical context, any child born with a congenital disability was often deemed the sole responsibility of the mother. The theory of maternal imagination postulated that women had a greater impact than men on the biological makeup of their offspring. This understanding of the female body's unique vulnerability may have been a response to the question of the father's shared accountability in the birth of a disabled child.
Overall, this series of collages serve as a visual exploration of the concept of Maternal Imagination, bringing attention to the historical context and cultural beliefs that shaped the understanding of the female body during pregnancy and childbirth in early modern Europe.
- This particular project has been segmented into three chapters, and the section you are currently perusing constitutes the first chapter.