“Women Holding Things” – A Love Ode to All Mothers and Women Everywhere, by Maira Kalman

A beautiful portrayal of women, mothers, superheroes, doers. An ode to every female who is holding something, no matter whether the groceries bags, her kids, a book, or the weight of the world. American author and illustrator Maira Kalman describes this incredibly relatable and emotional project, Women Holding Things as “a love song to [those] exhausted from holding everything”. Her poignant portraits, a meditation on the burdens and privileges of womanhood, feature Edith Sitwell and Gertrude Stein as well as members of Kalman’s family and anonymous faces. Some women hold flowers, others hold the hand of their child as they are executed by the Nazis. Kalman says her favourite image is of her grandmother holding the weight of the world.

“Though it didn’t stop her from taking care of everything in the home. I can still smell the beautiful scent of her Friday cinnamon cakes.”


“What do women hold?

The home and the family.

And the children and the food.

The friendships.

The work.

The work of the world.

And the work of being human.

The memories.

And the troubles

and the sorrows

and the triumphs.

And the love.

Men do as well,

but now quite in the same way.

Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly happy or content, I think I can provide sustenance for legions of human beings.

I can hold the entire world in my arms.

Other times, I can barely cross the room. And I drop my arms. Frozen.

Then, I am brought back to my grandmother, my mother, my aunts, my sister, my daughter, my granddaughters, my cousins. The women who are my friends.

We have spoken to each other for thousands of hours.

About all that can be held. And not held.

And how sometimes the water runs through our fingers.

And how sometimes the cakes are baked and the beds are made. And the books are written.

The bed and the books and the cakes.

In my case, it is good to hold it all. “

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