Inappropriate Bodies: Art, Design, and Maternity

Monday, September 9, 2019 - 7:30am

This edited collection examines conflicting assumptions, expectations, and perceptions of maternity in artistic, cultural, and institutional contexts. Over the past two decades, the maternal body has gained currency in popular culture and the contemporary art world, with many books and exhibitions foregrounding artists’ experiences and art historical explorations of maternity that previously were marginalized or dismissed. In too many instances, however, the maternal potential of female bodies—whether realized or not—still causes them to be stigmatized, censored, or otherwise treated as inappropriate: cultural expectations of maternity create one set of prejudices against women whose bodies or experiences do align with those same expectations, and another set of prejudices against those whose do not. Support for mothers in the paid workforce remains woefully inadequate, yet in many cultural contexts, social norms continue to ask what is “wrong” with women who do not have children. In these essays and conversations, artists and writers discuss how maternal expectations shape both creative work and designed environments, and highlight alternative ways of existing in relation to those expectations.


Here is the link to the book:

Professor Doreen Balabanoff will be presenting papers at three upcoming conferences

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 12:30pm

1) The first is next week, April 12-14 at York University is entitled: Maternal Wellbeing and Health: Emotional, Physical, Psychological, Social, Spiritual, Cultural, and Environmental


Doreen's  paper is entitled: “Embodied Experience and Birth Environment Design”


She is one of over 100 presenters from 11 countries..."providing a broad and deep perspective on maternal health theories and issues across global configurations".


From the conference organizer:  Bringing together scholars and practitioners who research maternal health and wellbeing...the conference locates maternal health in a cross-disciplinary and cross-geographical context...examining the ethical, political, sociocultural, economic, historical, racial, spiritual, physical, psychological, and environmental dimensions of maternal health...including...the ways in which culturally dominant ideologies about motherhood and health are taught or challenged; ways in which various paradigms of maternal thinking, being, and acting are constructed, negotiated, embedded, enacted, or resisted in specific health and social situations; ways the medical system can empower or disempower mothers...maternal ways of engaging in activism and advocacy work on maternal health from cross-cultural perspectives and on behalf of marginalized and oppressed mothers, childless women, and children.


APRIL 12-14, 2019, York University, McLaughlin College, Toronto

hosted by the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI)

led by Dr. Andrea O'Reilly, Professor School of Women's Studies,
Founder-Director: (MIRCI); Journal of the Motherhood Initiative; Demeter Press;
Editor, Encyclopedia of Motherhood, Sage Press, 2010.


2) The second conference is the ACSF 11th annual Symposium on Spirituality and Architecture. It will be held at Taliesin West, May 16-19, 2019, organized by the Architecture, Culture and Spirituality Forum.


Doreen's paper is entitled "Towards a New Architecture for Birth: light and embodied experience in the reimagined birth environment"

Established in 2007, the Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality Forum <> provides an international forum for scholarship, education, practice, and advocacy regarding the cultural and spiritual significance of the built environment. ACSF believes that the design and experience of the built environment can assist the spiritual development of humanity in service of addressing the world’s most pressing issues.

ACSF 11 is structured around the main topic  "Continuity in/of Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality". Three keynote speakers will be renowned architect Will Bruder, Frank Lloyd Wright scholar Michael Desmond, and internationally recognized Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa, the recipient of the 2019 ACSF Award for Outstanding Achievement.

3) The third will be the 14th International Normal Labour and Birth Research Conference <>  June 17th -19th, U of Central Lancashire, at Grange-Over Sands, UK.

Doreen is co-organizer mini-symposium on the topic of birth environment design, with colleagues from the US and Italy, including four papers and a discussion period. This is part of the Global Birth Environment Design Network that I co-founded last year.

Her paper is entitled: "Considering Venustas as a Key to Birth Environment Design"

From the organizers: The conference includes "academics, researchers, policy makers, clinical staff, service users, parents, and birth activists from around the world...Previous events have attracted a wide range of international delegates, from architects to economists, neuroscientists to sociologists, and from those working in maternity care (midwives, doctors, doulas, paediatricians) to those who have experienced it".

IIDEX, the annual architecture and interior design show

Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 11:00am


As part of Doreen Balabanoff's work with the Colour Research Society of Canada, there are two events of interest:


1) December 7th, a three-person panel discussion on the aesthetics of architecture featuring Gordon Grice, architect and editor of Right Angle magazine, (moderator & speaker), Ian Ellingham, Chair of The Built Environment Open Forum (speaker) and
David Pearl, Artist -- Design Team for the New Highway 407 Transit Station (speaker). David is an OCADU faculty member.


2) An open call for participation for a curated exhibition on colour and colour knowledge as a touchpoint between the arts and sciences. The exhibition is entitled Colour: What Do You Mean By That?  See attached pdf.


I would welcome an opportunity to speak to faculty and students in any area of the school about colour research (in any field) or about environmental design, embodied experience, colour and light, phenomenological approaches to practice-based research, etc. I am the founding President of the Colour Research Society of Canada (CRSC), the national organisation affiliated with the AIC, the International Colour Association (Association Internationale de la Couleur)

Back to Basics: Preserving Traditional Art & Design Practices in the Digital Age

Thursday, March 13, 2008 - 10:00pm to 11:30pm

The OCAD Student Union presents the forum "Back to Basics: Preserving Traditional Art and Design Practices in the Digital Age". All faculty, technicians, managers, staff and students are invited to attend.


6:05 pm: Vladimir Spicanovic
Vladimir Spicanovic, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Art, will discuss the way in which he sees his work as a painter as a commentary on contemporary media and the ways the addresses issues of contemporary and non-contemporary in his painting.

6:10 pm: Doreen Balabanoff
Doreen Balabanoff, Assistant Dean, First Year in the Faculty of Design will discuss her own design practice.

6:15 pm: Charles Reeve
Charles Reeve, Curator, explores our understanding of the words "tradition" and "traditional," observing the constantly shifting meanings attributed to them. Reinforcing the importance of these concepts, he will highlight their complexity.

6:20 pm: Sara Diamond
President Sara Diamond, taking a perhaps less theoretical approach to the issues before the forum, will comment on such matters as a perceived decline in studio time and concrete measures being undertaken to address them such as the recently announced pilot project of Saturday evening extended hours and the permanent move to extend hours Sunday-Friday for the last six weeks of term. To discuss the specific ways in which the DFI will be implemented.

6:25 pm: Jessica Kamphorst
Jessica Kamphorst will speak from her dual position as President of the OCAD Foundation and Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations; to discuss efforts to raise funds to improve the student experience at OCAD such as the current campaign to raise OTSS funds; and to discuss the importance of fostering alumni relations – to raise the profile of OCAD, to generate concrete support, to generate respect and good will that results in referral of prospective students by satisfied alumni and to generate a network of ambassadors for the university.

Venue & Address: 
Auditorium 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario