By Dori Varga • Photographs by Kanya Iwana featuring Jaycina and her baby Syx
I discovered Kanya Iwana, Los Angeles based artist`s work while scrolling through Instagram. Her way of capturing and embodying the modern-working-mama-life instantly imprinted on me and felt inspired to share her thought and work with you all!
How did your relationship to your career change after having baby?
That's the thing - I didn't. I've dabbled on a few creative hobbies, but it wasn't until I had Milo when I fully embraced myself as a creative and took myself seriously by going freelance full-time. It was very scary but the thought of complacency and hiding what I truly wanted to be to stay home with the baby scared me more in the sense that I didn't want to feel any sort of resentment towards her. I fully believed that I could be both a full-time artist and full-time mother. I knew it was going to be a flawed process, but I think accepting that fact was what made me fearless. Nothing's perfect, obviously, but I had to go through it to see what combining those two worlds myself -- and I'm still going through it, and loving it so far. She inspires me so much to be the person / artist I am today.
What has been the greatest challenge as a working mama?
There's so many challenges. One being - I'm so tired all the time. How is it that a person drinks four cups of coffee before noon? This is my average day. Thankfully I have a partner (Milo's Dad) that is amazing and present. We work together to reassure balance in each other's lives, but man we can be low energy sometimes, although he's so much better at it than me.
The biggest challenge I would say, though, is guilt. I'm guilty of not reading to her enough - going outside with her enough - being present enough, although I work from home. I know it's an easy fix, but sometimes I'm caught in the dilemma of reading to her more or answering more e-mails for a quicker turnaround, which results in booking and me sleeping soundly. I still struggle with this so much.
What kind of support do you need or could you imagine having, to make the balance of mama+work life more smooth— whether it be changes in social construct or personal.
Is there such a thing as a free day care? Of course not, because the people who run them deserve all the money in the world for taking care of our kids... This is completely and obviously nonexistent but if there is an extra day in the week, I'd take that over any other kinds of help. I need half of that to be for Milo, and the other half to be for me. I don't think I have enough me time.
How do you balance romantic relationship with work+mama life? I personally got quite burnt out and neglected my marriage so much that it got absolutely love deprived... I'm interested in ways in which a partnership can work while parents are both successful in career.
My partner and I have a very unique situation where we'd only known each other for two months before we got pregnant. It was a surprise for both of us, and as we decided to keep Milo we knew at the bottom of our hearts that we couldn't force a relationship because of this. We had to learn about each other throughout the course of our first couple of months of parenthood and had to organically have a romantic bond. Everything was so fresh - and even though he saw a baby and a placenta coming out of my vagina - emotionally we were talking through eggshells... At least I was. We were so fucking scared. It took us a while to fall in love, but luckily we did. I think we'd grown as lovers as we grew as parents and partners. It's so unique and I love our little story, but of course it wasn't easy.
You live in Los Angeles— What is your experience as a working mama in Cali/USA in your field? How’s the system been supportive of your career choices and how has it challenged you? What changes would you imagine the system could make to help the working mama?
I got absolutely no help from the government or whatsoever. I didn't have off days or maternity leave as a freelance artist. I had to go back to work with my semi-healed stitched vagina. So there's a lot of things I'd love to change about the system or industry. I used to be an actor and I'd audition a lot and the thought of bringing my baby to an audition made me so nervous that I wanted to throw up -- I wish there was something for that. I'd bring my baby on set sometimes, but you know how it goes with the fire department. I would say that because I live in Los Angeles and that a lot of my friends are also young artists, there's a strong sense of community and they always are down to help me out the best that they can. I'd say lean on your friends when the system is against you.
Tell me about your dream shoot! Who, where, when, why?
I did a collaboration with Polaroid Originals on a project called "To Be A Mom While Everything Else" and it was one of the most beautiful projects I've ever done -- I had the honor to photograph and meet a group of moms and their kids, womb to adults, and was just able to capture their silent thoughts, their energy, and their love. I'd love to keep this project going with some icons. If I could get Michelle Obama and her daughters in front of me, I'd retire. That and Erykah Badu and her family.
About the featured photos in Kanya's words- "This photoshoot is called Juxtaposition, featuring Jaycina and her baby Syx. The story is about a working mother in the 1980s who's decided to bring her baby to work with her -- which back then was uncommon but now is celebrated. It's really interesting how during the shoot itself people were still in awe that we executed this -- like they've never seen something like this before. Especially that we shot in Los Angeles -- supposedly a progressive city."
Photographer + Creative Director: @kanyaiwana