My Mother Was a Nanny : Paintings from the Book by Laura James

Central Library, Youth Wing

Caribbean-American artist Laura James grew up in Brooklyn. Central Library was a second home to her, the only place her mother, a domestic worker, would let her go besides school. This library, where her works are now on view, was a sanctuary to the young artist. Today, we are pleased to present the artworks from Laura James’ newly released children’s book My Mother Was a Nanny, a celebration of maternal care, domestic workers, children, Brooklyn, and her fledgling self.

This exhibition, then is a homecoming of sorts, and a way of uplifting and honoring her mother, and the many women of Brooklyn who continue to hold families together through their service as nannies and domestic caregivers. As she writes, her mother was a nanny, a friend, a baker, a maker, a teacher, a good listener, a sister, and most of all, a loving parent.

See James's extraordinary pieces in person—and RSVP to meet her on December 9 for a special book signing.

About the Artist

LAURA JAMES is a self-taught painter and illustrator whose African- and Caribbean-American heritage and love of color, design, and story inform her work. A self-taught painter and illustrator, James has been working as an Artist for almost thirty years. As a child, she spent much of her free time at the Brooklyn Public Library, the only place her parents would let her go on her own. There she explored her passion for literature, photography, and later painting.

This book was inspired by her mother, a homemaker, nanny, and domestic worker, along with Laura’s paintings in the Nanny Series. Her art has appeared in many solo and group exhibitions, textbooks, and film, as well as two picture books by Olive Senior. In addition to her newly published book, My Mother Was a Nanny (Groundwood Books, 2023), James has been for decades painting sacred art in the tradition of Ethiopian Icon paintings. Laura lives in the Bronx, New York.

Photo Credit: Edna Suarez


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