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Mother’s Day art for a beautiful cause

The project is an effort by the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank & Alliance for Period Supplies to honor mothers and raise awareness about diaper needs in the community
Credit: St. Louis American
Janessa Williams makes greeting cards to raise money for the St. Louis Diaper Bank in her north county home Fri. Apr. 23,2021.

ST. LOUIS — Mother’s Day cards designed by four local artists including Janessa Williams, Mary Martin, Katie Schaefer and Alicia Arnold are available for purchase at the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank and Green Door Art Gallery for $10 each until May 9.

The project is an effort by the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank & Alliance for Period Supplies to honor mothers and raise awareness about diaper needs in the community. One in three parents routinely find themselves without enough diapers for their child. Unlike formula, baby food and other necessities, diapers are not eligible for WIC subsidy or other public benefit programs. The Diaper Bank exists to help strengthen low-income families in our region by ensuring access to an adequate supply of diapers.

Muriel Smith, executive director of the Diaper Bank, is excited about the project’s mission to celebrate motherhood, promote diversity and educate about diaper needs. “We’re excited to partner with our volunteers and ambassadors in the community to create these really cool, unique cards,” Smith said. “Hopefully people will learn more about our local needs, understand what that means and how they can help.”

Williams, 27, is a multidisciplinary visual artist and graphic designer based in Jennings. She specializes in merchandise design, brand identity, advertising and marketing design. As the mother of a four-year-old son, Theo, she jumped on board immediately after a friend recommended her for the job. With art already being her passion and motherhood having an important place in her life, it became clear the opportunity was a great fit for her. Her favorite part about being a mother is watching her son grow up and see how his personality is beginning to develop and morph into his own individual self.

“Theo is so animated, he never shies with his facial expressions and is always very bright-eyed,” Williams said. “I just love it. He’s a big bundle of joy.”

“Mother’s Day is about loving your mom and nurturing your mom,” Williams explained, “but also, on the mom’s end it's being excited, happy and proud of having a baby. It’s like another birthday for moms.”

Her cards feature multi-racial women embracing their babies with a bed of flowers surrounding them. The other designs include variations of the word “mom” in bright, bold block letters, multicolor roses and various beautiful sunflowers. 

Smith appreciates Williams’ inclusive effort to highlight multi-racial women in her designs. She feels it's important for the project to be representative of our community. “I think it reflects the community, and if people are buying Mother’s Day cards, you like to see yourself in the cards or others that you’re buying cards for,” Smith said. “Those were great ways for her to express that and show diversity in Mother’s Day cards, which you don’t always see.”

Williams’ usually incorporates elements of afro-futurism, so the Diaper Bank project was much different from her usual work. She said the inspiration behind her extraterrestrial art comes from her belief that Black people are ethereal.

“I feel like we are so connected to the earth, and we’re magical,” Williams said. “I love the supernatural, I love ghosts, I love aliens, all that stuff is so me. I just kind of meshed the two together, and I think that since we are like aliens of the earth, we’re the least respected, but also the most beautiful to me. That almost makes us aliens on our own planet.”

She hopes every mom that purchases a card receives joy from buying something homemade and designed by a Black artist. “It's a unique gift that I hope brings a smile to your mom’s face and can be something she frames or uses as a keepsake.” Williams said.

Martin, owner of the Green Door Art Gallery, loves the tenderness Williams showcased with her designs and how well the flowers intertwined with it. Ironically, she said that although each of the artists created their art separately, all the pieces still look cohesive.

“It's almost like we all talked to each other ahead of time, but we didn’t. Our colors are similar and some of the flowers are similar,” Martin said. “It looks cool, they coordinate very beautifully together. I’m really excited to display them here.”

The cards are for sale at the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank, located at 6141 Etzel, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., https://www.stldiaperbank.org/, or at Green Door Art Gallery, located at 21 N. Gore Avenue, Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., https://www.greendoorartgallery.com/.

You can see more of Williams’ art on her Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/color_tripz/.