Love Without Binding| Elise Peterson on Pregnancy, Identities, and Art

On a cold fall morning, Elise and I meet at Cafe Paulette to chat.  I am terribly late- an unusual occurrence. Elise, is just a few minutes late and pregnant with her first child. At 33 weeks, she already understands the weekend dynamics of mothering and how it often milks our remaining supply: minutes and hours, leaving us halfway composed frantically running down a busy Fort Greene street.

Elise and I have met before, in passing at parties or events. It’s funny how that happens. How you can orbit in one another’s circles, never really crossing over clearly-and then something life changing (like pregnancy), connects you. Over blueberries, yogurt, omelettes and fries, we discussed pregnancy, mothering, and art, and how these identities and our past identities transition and form overtime. What a treat…

“Love without binding” is a term that weaves in our conversation. I prop my phone, failing at the real interview process. Elise and I dive in-like two old friends, catching up on a regular Saturday morning over tea.
What are your feelings when it comes to becoming a mother at 29?

“Twenty nine feels like a spicy age to become a mom. I didn’t leave the party (of my 20s) too early, but also wasn’t the last one lingering. I also lived nearly 20 lives in my 20s!”

As someone who’s work dives into stories of blackness and generational narratives, how does having a child at this specific age in your life feel meaningful?

“From the loss of my biological father, connecting to a part of my family I’d never known, watching my siblings enter their angsty teen years to celebrating 70 years of life with my grandmother this year has been by far the most significant personally. I’ve become much more aware of the fragility and preciousness of time. I was blessed with a child at this very moment, but this is when I could truly appreciate the value in life, in living.”

+ Overall, your pregnancy has pushed you and your work in  unique way, can you explain this more for our readers? 

“Pregnancy has made me fearless in how and what mediums I use to approach my work. I went away to Quebec for a month to attend an artist residency this summer at 4 months pregnant. Subconsciously, I was aware of limitations that others place on the capabilities of expecting women. Because of this, I really pushed my own creative and physical boundaries. While there, I explored video, movement, audio, sewing, painting along with animation and created ‘A Meditation on Thug Life’ a multi-immersive installation featuring collage animation. The animation video piece was also in collaboration with my partner (and featuring our baby) was acquired by the Baie-Saint-Paul Contemporary Art Museum by the closing of the residency. I absolutely credit my move through motherhood with approaching new work in a new medium fearlessly.
Aside from that, it’s also allowed me to revisit a childhood dream which was to write and illustrate children’s books. I began illustrating HOW MAMAS LOVE THEIR BABIES written by Juniper Fitzgerald before becoming pregnant, and will have my baby in tow for the release of the book February 2018. I’ve become so much more aware of the narrative and the lasting impact of the work I’m creating and how it reflects the broad spectrum that is not only Blackness, but also motherhood. I want to make my future children proud.”

+ Motherhood and art, where do these worlds meet?

“They are two roles that ask for you to unwaveringly give of yourself, many times with zero fanfare.”

+ You just moved into your new home in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, how has this place differed from your other apartments?

“I’ve finally reached every New Yorker’s dream – to live alone! Only soon I’ll have a forever roommate.”


Lightning Round:

+ Overall home style?

+ One wish for your unborn babe?
To find joy in exactly who they are.

+ What part of motherhood are you looking forward to most? 
Relinquishing a false sense of control.

+ What is your one hope for mothers-to be?
Never forget who you are.


Thank you so much, Elise! We can’t wait to watch your motherhood journey!

(Photography by Maia Harms for LaTonya Yvette.)

0 thoughts on “Love Without Binding| Elise Peterson on Pregnancy, Identities, and Art

  • Reply Kristianna Denise December 1, 2017 at 2:24 am


  • Reply Unknown December 12, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Beautiful person inside and out and those shoes…oh my–details on the shoes, please

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