Joy Christiansen Erb

(American, b. 1978; resides in Poland, OH)

After the birth of her first child, Joy Christiansen Erb began photographing her experience as a mother in her series, Portrait of a Mother (2010-2014). The two-part series follows the lives of each of her two children and features unapologetically honest glimpses of her young family, including images of a collection of postpartum shed hair, a snot-crusted nose, and a urine stained toilet training chair. The images both act as a document of the daily rituals of the artist’s life with two small children, while also challenging the common and historical representation of motherhood like Madonna and Child imagery or the idyllic representations commonly found in advertisements. Christiansen Erb chooses to reveal the awkward and ordinary bits of motherhood, as well as the uncertainty and disorder, documenting the less glamourous sides of maternity.

Joy Christiansen Erb completed her BFA from Miami University, Oxford, OH (2001) and her MFA from Texas Woman’s University (2005). She has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2011), The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee (2010), and The Women’s Museum in Dallas (2010). She was the recipient of a SPE/Freestyle Crystal Apple award (2005) and a grant recipient from Miami University (2000). She currently serves as an associate professor at Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio.

Blackberry Stain, 2012Blackberry Stain, 2012
Urine Stain, 2012Urine Stain, 2012


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Museum of Contemporary Photography

at Columbia College Chicago
600 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

(312) 663-5554

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  • Monday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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