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Elizabeth Murray on Being an Artist and Mother

Elizabeth Murray made no concessions, refusing to choose between motherhood and a successful career.

Premieres Friday, September 7 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)


At a time when people were beginning to say I can't have children and be an artist I can't be taken seriously if I'm married she appeared to make virtually no concessions to anything.

You wanted to be a mother she wanted a family she wanted to cook dinner every night she wanted a Christmas tree she wanted Christmas presents, she wanted the dog and the cat and the whole nine yards.

It never occurred to her that she couldn't do that and be a great artist.

I would describe it as having designed a life so that she was able to have what she wanted more than anything.

She was a successful artist when we were growing up so it's different for us than it is for our brother.

The activity of making art was separate from the activity of being a member of the family, of being a mother you know and it really was like she worked at 9:00 to 5:00, you know she's in the studio you know all day The thing that one often forgets about great artists like Elizabeth is that they're also human beings, that they have lives outside their art and that they go through life dealing with all of the same problems that everyone else does and then they still have to have the inner reserve to create.