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about the project.

The Good Mother: making the invisible, visible

Written and created by Karen Cellini, The Good Mother Project is a text-based, multi-disciplinary, touring project, including an immersive installation and companion book of illustrated, lyric essays, acknowledging and transforming the lives of Mothers experiencing violence, active addiction, and incarceration of their children. Through immersion in raw, personal story and creative practice, The Good Mother Project offers connection and hope, breaking the stigma of addiction and incarceration.

Written for the female voice, The Good Mother is a phantasmagorical tale told from the perspective of Glow-in-the-dark Mary, who guides the Good Mother, by moonlight on water, witnessing her life and experiences in her haunted house through a loving lens, transforming the victimization of the female lineage. The work culminates in the form of an immersive, public installation that creates a vibrational space with its own frequency, woven-together from elements of light, sound, text, voice, and moving image. Designed flexibly, it can install in most public spaces, whether established venues, or site-specific locations.


The companion book of lyric essays are memory pieces, incorporating the raw and detailed experiences of the author, Karen Cellini, her twin sister Kate Shaffer, and her nephew, Jason Shaffer. These writings include their co-written dialogues throughout the toxic rollercoaster of his 20-year history of heroin use and incarceration. In the same way that the practice of reading and writing provided an avenue for transformation to Jason while incarcerated, these essays aim to reach and open-up others experiencing violence and addiction in isolation. The book contains a QR code, linking to an immersive companion soundscape that can be listened to while reading or experienced as a stand-alone, sonic experience. The Project offers associated creative practice workshops and speaking engagements that can be tailored to fit to any community or institution's needs. Speakers include original creative collaborators; Jason Shaffer, Kate Shaffer, and/or others on the creative team.


Mothers with children in the prison system and/or afflicted with active addiction live in suspended animation – another type of imprisonment - navigating the constant, demoralizing social service and judicial systems on behalf of their kids. The Good Mother Project exists as a way to address these complex social problems, beginning with the Self, dissolving isolation and stigma, softening weary Mothers' hearts, and, by extension, impacting Community and raising awareness outside of it.


Although the work has been generated from within a community of mothers, it is also made to be entered into by their families, their communities, and beyond. The possibilities for further reach, understanding, and healing are extended by the book of essays, the companion soundscapes, and additional creative process workshops. The project is inclusive of many communities; the arts/performance, university, medical, social, literary, and judicial communities, as it intends to have a universal, disarming/softening and restorative quality, enabling anyone to open, with compassion, to the stigmatized, isolated Mother and her family.


We are grateful for the ongoing support of the following organizations 

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