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Being an Ally, Mombies, and Reclaiming the Personal: The Inventive Work of Amy Reidel

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Amy Reidel makes work that I can relate to. She brings the viewer into her world that is filled with color, sparkle, and rainbows but all the while, underlying insidious imagery creeps in to complete the picture. Amy’s painterly vocabulary allows for her sophisticated application of materials to slam up against visions of the figure in various states of psychological distress. Through her work, she shows us the underbelly of care, and the mess of loving another human. Glitter coincides with a face that forces itself to manically grin but leaves us with a foreboding feeling that there is nothing to smile about...or is there?

As mothers or primary caregivers, we are told that our experience will be filled with saccharine moments but the emotional turmoil many will face is only whispered about. This dichotomy comes through clearly in Amy’s sculptural, “Mombies”. Mombies are defined as: “A mother who is consumed by raising her children to the point of being sleep-deprived or simply obsessed, and hence zombie-like.” In her ceramic pieces, the mother or caregiver in question, attempts to become three-dimensional but continues to present themselves in two-dimensions with their painted on face gazing out towards the viewer, mouth agape.

Reidel’s work lays bare the complicated experience of loving another. To love is to straddle a line between sorrow and joy and she walks this line with precision, balancing the wide-eyed, struggle of her figures with colorful, dazzling, sparkly hope.

Amy Reidel is a St. Louis-based artist who has exhibited work nationally since getting her BFA from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and her MFA at The University of Tennessee. She has been awarded residencies at ACRE (Artists' Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) based out of Chicago, the David and Julia White Artists’ colony in Cd. Colón, Costa Rica and at the Luminary Center for the Arts in St. Louis. Reidel’s artwork has been exhibited at the Contemporary Art Museum-St. Louis, The Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries, Granite City Art and Design District (G-CADD), Lambert International Airport, Flood Plain Gallery, ACRE projects gallery in Chicago, Fluorescent Gallery in Knoxville, and the Amarillo Museum of Art among others. Her work has been showcased through media like Young Space, I Like Your Work podcast, Brenda Magazine (UK), St. Louis Public Radio, the PBS program Living St. Louis, the international publication Daily Serving and the Studio Break podcast. Reidel received a Critical Mass Creative Stimulus award in 2016 and the Regional Arts Commission Artist’s Support Grants in 2014, 2019 and a COVID-19 artist relief grant in 2020.

“Through painting, drawing and sculpture, I abstractly combine imagery to illuminate the bittersweet conditions of motherhood, family and sexuality; topics most people experience but are not encouraged to discuss professionally. The innocuous, inherited patterns of Grandma’s scarves and decorative rugs merge together with darling babies and scared caregivers in an absurd representation of home and love.

My work results from a cacophonous use of materials, layering and erasure, which have become my primary language as a progressive mother in the conservative Heartland. Personal and political issues conflate in my work and result in aggressive but candy-colored marks reflecting the dualities of fear and joy, rejection and protection. The saturated spectrum is used as a defense mechanism to make magic of this earthly existence.”-Amy Reidel


- Dealing with LGBTQIA issues as an adolescent and teenager through artwork

- Being an Ally

- Confronting the pressure to present yourself as a “professional” in the artworld

- “The Artwork is Not Judging Me”

- Being the boss of your work

- Taking a break from making work and how we, as the art world, have deemed certain reasons as “honorable” or allowable.

- “What are you making Work About if you Aren’t Living Life”

- “Mombie”

-Working with craft materials

-Exploring other media to take the pressure off

-How Amy works through her pieces

-Embracing autobiographical imagery


@amy.reidel Instagram

Amelia-Colette Jones

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