Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All You Need Is Love: Daniel Edwards' String of Babies

As President Obama tries to quell the madding mob, the sculptor Daniel Edwards last week unveiled the happy contrast of String of Babies,

a rubber sculpture of Octomom Nadya Suleman and her baby octopi. At a pre-publication $199.00, this is a bargain collectible, done in the soothing, au courant tone of Pepto pink. If there is any other work as joyously counterstated to the national dilemma--however unintentionally--one would be hard pressed to identify it.

You might argue that Nadya Suleman, the media focus on Nadya Suleman, the medical profession, and even Daniel Edwards are all part of the present troubles. Even our newly elected President has, over the past weekend, allowed things to get out of hand. But here we have Suleman's babies in a firm cephalopod grip; the same fate will not befall her even as she claims that a posse of nannies has been spying on her and reporting her every move to child welfare officials who would, presumably, be eager for her to release her protective embrace.

The artist's bio at Guy Hepner Galleries states that his body of work is "Neo-Pop" and that it is "prophetic and consistent in its ability to humanize social issues the media and public have trouble addressing." Translated, that means it is explanatory. One can therefore conclude that Mr. Edwards, not President Obama, has the answers. There is no humanizing AIG. One also notes that neither the media nor the public has had any trouble whatsoever addressing what appears to be the inhumanity of a medical profession that would implant multiple embryos into Suleman, who already had six children; that act alone felt like taking advantage of the mentally challenged.

Why, one wonders, does Edwards feel the media and public have trouble humanizing social issues? Why can we not put a face to the monster? Is it that man's inhumanity to man stuff so believed of Aeschylus, Aristophanes, and Apollodorus of Carystus? Edwards understands the monster, at least in invertebrate form.

If we admit humanity to Suleman, we might open a floodgate of such admissions. Imagine imbuing the AIG executives with tenderer human emotions. We might also have to take an awkward look at our own doubtful behavioral patterns.

Edwards states that he thinks "the world is in desperate need of a maternal figure who is exclusively devoted to being a mother. There is something almost religious and pure about her in that way." We need that something, even if we are presently unable to articulate just what it might be. And, slyly, Edwards implies that motherhood has gotten out of hand itself; if there are not enough difficulties in mother/child relationships to begin with, it is in some circles simply a means of accessorizing, a sorority pin, and a way of keeping up with the latest fashion. His Suleman is slightly victimized, not neurotic, and her regenerative powers are definitely misunderstood; she is an alchemist, her goals are humanitarian and patriotic; after the flag, whom do you love?

We have reached, evidently, an unfortunate point where motherly love is all but denigrated. In the face of all this bad motherhood, this most original and natural of bonds has been held up not only to public ridicule but also to the niggling question of the value of a human life lived valuably, which is to say given a fair chance at a decent economic and emotional means of survival.

You say you have trouble seeing the Octomom as religious and pure? Or maybe even as something other than a despicable fictional character created on a slow news day? Some said the same about Mary Magdalene, remember. One day, the Octomom might be seen as saintly, as a champion of the Constitutional right to do whatever anyone else thinks is wrong. and as bringing nothing into this world but love. AIG, on the other hand, is still plundering along as a meaningless and corrupt object.

String of Babies available at


Anonymous said...

Brilliant column!

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Suzanna Mars said...


Thanks for stopping by, reading, and leaving a comment! It's a pleasure to hear from you.