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Visualizing Birth

Thank you Anna Hennessey for including my art and a description in your article last month!




​Using Images as Tools During Pregnancy and Birth

Visualizing Pregnancy and Family through

Deborah Lanino’s “A Young Family”

Author: Anna Hennessey

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 Visualizing Birth

Using Images as Tools During Pregnancy and Birth

Visualizing Pregnancy and Family through

Deborah Lanino’s “A Young Family”

By Anna Hennessey

Los Angeles based artist Deborah Lanino is a painter with a long history of creating artwork that represents a diverse array of subject matters in a wide range of styles. Her 1992 painting, A Young Family, is one of those works. In it, we see the silhouettes of three figures, a father, mother and child, standing on a path between two hills with a peaceful blue skyline in the background. The mother is pregnant, her belly protruding in front of her towards her child, who holds onto a red, heart-shaped balloon.

The painting is a calming representation of family and pregnancy. Additionally, Lanino’s story about creating the work includes an extra element to how her creation of the piece related to her own visualization of becoming pregnant one day when she was a young artist in New York City:

"The concept for this painting came to me many years ago. I was a young artist living in SOHO, Manhattan, and I was working on a series of graphite drawings with shape, form and silhouette. This turned into a drawing of a young family. After that, I made a colored chalk pastel version. The next year, I was newly married and we moved to Chelsea, and I painted the acrylic on a panel, pictured here. I was, in my heart, hopeful to start a family. A few years later, we were blessed to have a baby boy. I still have the original pastel, framed and on display at home here in Los Angeles. The piece went on to win an award, a decade later at an exhibition in Santa Monica with the theme “Mother’s Day”. My son sat next to me at the reception. He was born right around Mother’s day and he has been a great blessing."

Lanino’s story points to how the spheres of an artist’s personal visualizations have the capacity to merge with their artistic productions, and in some cases, with the actualization of those visualizations. In Lanino’s case, her visual conception of pregnancy became manifest first in her artwork and then later through her own body. Her child, a son, was born close to Mother’s Day, adding a special element of the sacred to that day for the artist.

A Young Family is helpful for others in the visualization of pregnancy and family. Mother and father figures are interconnected through the shoulders of their silhouettes, while the hills between which the family stands are rising up from the earth as if to protect and nurture the young family. The rich red balloon that the boy holds floats calmly in the sky, and the sky itself looks like a calm sea, its clouds lapping a shore in soft waves. Lanino’s story of how she visualized family when painting her work is also a joyful reminder of how art, mental visualization, and reality merge in the context of pregnancy, birth, and family.

To see more of Deborah Lanino’s work from her New York and Los Angeles periods, as well as her work for an upcoming solo exhibit this Fall in Berkeley, please visit Lanino’s website at: www.deborahlanino.com

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