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At MassArt Art Museum, ‘Designing Motherhood’ explores the tools and trials of caregiving

A photograph from the show "Designing Motherhood:"Things That Make and Break Our Births" at the MassArt Art Museum

“Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births,” lays bare ways in which powerful white men have dictated the terms of reproduction for two centuries. Soon after the show opened at the MassArt Art Museum, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The topic couldn’t be more timely, or more sobering.

The stellar exhibition spotlights medical, architectural, and fashion designs alongside contemporary art focused on reproduction, birth, infancy, and parenting. Many objects tell a hair-raising tale of where we’ve been and, tragically, where we are returning. The Del-Em, an at-home abortion kit for early pregnancy, was distributed by the Los Angeles Self-Help Clinic in 1971, pre-Roe v. Wade. Today, there’s medication. At least for now.

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