Exhibit highlights great ‘Expectations’ at Emerson Umbrella Center for The Arts in Concord

Margaret Smith

They are studies of a work in progress – of women preparing for the birth of a child, seeing how their bodies are changing, and the memotions evoked in the experience, including joy, anticipation and wonderment.

“Expectations,” a joint exhibit at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts in Concord by photographer Astrid Reischwitz and sculptor Tina Forbes, brings together two artists capturing the familiar and yet never completely definable experience of pregnancy.

Astrid Reischwitz

“I was always interested in black and white photography,” said Reischwitz, a Bedford resident originally from Germany, who has also lived and studied photography in Manhattan.

One day, while at the beach, she saw another pregnant woman, and was inspired to approach her. “I said, could I take photos, and she said, yes.”

She had a passion for film as opposed to digital photography. She found instructor Carol Krauss at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, with whom she studied. “I was looking for a project. I had taken some shots of a pregnant friend in Germany. It was a powerful feeling.”

Reischwitz, the mother of a 7-year-old daughter, said the project brought to mind memories of her own enjoyable experience of pregnancy, but also the unique experience she said it is for each woman.

Of the photos in the exhibit, she said, “I never went to a studio. I just work with natural light. I went to the persons’ houses for example, and I shot a lot of images at Emerson -- wherever I find a place that appeals to me.”

The project was also a way for her to learn more about photography, including working with different lighting and situations.

There was one common thread throughout. “"I always felt very joyful after each photo session,” said Reischwitz, who said, The project was “being part of (the women's) experience, and also remembering your own. Each person was different, but you can see all the photos were all taken by one photographer.”

Tina Forbes

For sculptor and Concord resident Tina Forbes, an artist at Emerson, “Expectations” is a chance to combine her pre-existing sculptures of the female form with the two-dimensional images.

For Forbes, who has lived in Concord for about five years, the exhibit is something of a retrospective, with pre-made works that seemed a good fit for a collaborative exhibit on the topic of pregnancy and women’s bodies.

“Astrid had signed up to do the exhibit. Someone suggested there should be two people in it...someone knew I was doing nudes, and thought it would be a wonderful match,” Forbes said.

Forbes said her sculptures are mainly studies of body parts, such as torsos. Because they cannot be identified as specific person, she said she believes viewers can more readily see something of themselves in them.

“If it didn't have a face, it could be you, and you could see yourself init. It could be anyone,” Forbes said.

“The bodies I have are not perfect,” she said, adding that this, too, makes the sculpture a more personal and individual experience rather than aspiring to a standard of beauty or uniformity.

Forbes works with many different types of clay and firing techniques, including raku, a type of Japanese pottery.

She said the clay-firing process is “very unpredictable…you need to be able to give up control. You have to be proficient at pottery to make it hold together, but to accept what the fire has left.”

If you go

“Expectations,” a joint exhibit by Astrid Reischwitz and Tina Forbes, is on view through Nov. 16 at the Emerson Umbrella Center for The Arts, 40 Stow St., Concord. Free.

Hours Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday hours vary.

For more information, 978-371-0820 or visit

Margaret Smith is Arts and Calendar Editor at Gate House Media New England’s Northwest Unit. E-mail her