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The Mattress Factory is an artist-centered museum, international residency program and renowned producer and presenter of installation art. We say “yes” to artists, offering time and space to dream and realize projects in our hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We invite audiences from around the world and around the corner to step inside, immerse and connect with the artistic process.

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Naomi Chambers

Mommies vs. Aunties

This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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Materials: oil on canvas, sheet, chenille patches, cement, plastic hearts (candy dispensers), 1995 Power Ranger Happy Meal toy, goal, rhinestone net, swan planters

Artist Statement

I remember my mother making many occasions for us to play. I know she enjoyed these moments, but she didn’t usually play as well.

I wanted Moms to play. I wanted Moms to play with each other.  I wanted us to play with one of our closest co-conspirators, Aunties. When my mom needed advice, to storytell, to watch, to buy, to cook, to drop off, to go with… she would phone an Auntie. I also listened to my Aunties on car rides home or weekend resets in the house. They also needed to play.

Play like

Anita Baker
Stephanie Mills
Dionne Warwick
Chaka Khan
Gladys Knight
Jennifer Holliday
Denise Williams
Dolly Parton
Teena Marie
Mary J Blige
Playing and holding me dear at once
Take a break Mama. Call Auntie and take a load off.

I’ve been an Auntie longer than I’ve been a Mother. I’ve touched Auntie status 2 years after I last played soccer but still harnessed that energy. As a Mom I’m fighting for that agility. That fire that I had as an Auntie.

Playing soccer as a youth we were there for each other. We all knew our roles and trained to be in tandem with each other in our respective roles. Our common goal was to win together. To be the best we could be individually to make the unit whole. I think as a Mother I need a network similar to that so we can make the next years on earth better for all.

I’ve been an Auntie since 2006. As an Auntie I learned how to appear when needed, give the gifts that were wanted (needed for the spirit). I could curb tantrums and immerse the baby in depths of my deepest affection with nonstop fun… at least til Mommy came. It was all fun and games. Mommy and baby’s bond was something else entirely. Both blends of love were needed to fill the baby up.

Aunties Vs Mommies are an opportunity for us to expand and explore our care pods for ourselves as Mothers… as Aunties… as women that have a relationship with the youth. The humans that will continue where we leave off.

Aunties and Mommies met up to stretch (stay flexible, open hips), share goals, “make goals,” learn to juggle (we do this already), practice “passing” (share duty), create our own team chants and play casual soccer games (Aunties vs Mommies) and ultimately remind ourselves how important it is to play together. How important it is for our children to witness us playing.

Focus on a particular (or vague) goal while walking through this exhibit. Weave in and out of the cones… pass off to a companion or not… walk through the goal. Realize your goals for yourself. Play.




1414 Monterey, 1st Floor

About The Artist

Naomi Chambers is a painter and sculptor born in Pittsburgh in 1987. She graduated with a double degree from the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Studio Arts and Marketing in 2009. In 2017, she and her husband worked with a collective of artists to open FlowerHouse, a community art studio and creative space in Wilkinsburg where they offer workshops for the predominantly Black community. In 2018, she had her first solo exhibition, Communal Futures at an arts institution, August Wilson Center: African American Cultural Center. She is currently Community Liaison with Alisha Wormsley’s Sibyls Shrine, a residency for creative mamas.


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