Balancing Act (2)




Balancing Act (2)


Physical Dimensions

9 x 13.5 in




salted paper print made with breastmilk

Larger Entity

milk and tears series

Artist Statement

milk and tears is a series of salted paper prints that physically process my experience becoming a mother. Made from my own breastmilk, images of my son reference a legacy of classical sculpture and the intimacy of parenthood, and are complimented by still lifes of balanced blocks that serve as a metaphor for our societal ideal of trying to balance our work and home lives to "have it all." While salt prints naturally display a wide-range of color and tonal discrepancies, their variations here remind us that our bodies are not machines, but imperfect organisms. Using breastmilk as the salting solution in this work literally adds my own bodily labor to the print, and replicates the labor and sacrifice of parenthood, injecting a uniquely feminist narrative into this historical process and the history of photography.

Statement of Research

My artistic practice looks to question the fallibility of history as seen through the faulty lenses of memory and bias, while working to create community and equity within our modern world. My current work does this by innovating a historical process, the salted paper print, to create a new dialogue around mothering, care, and climate change.

The salt print was one of the first photographic processes to be invented, presented by Henry Fox Talbot in 1839. While Talbot’s process used a diluted bath of salt water to coat his paper, I have instead used my own breastmilk, allowing the natural salts in the breastmilk to become the light sensitizing agent for the images. Our modern society overlooks care as something frivolous and sequestered, but this work looks to expose care as a necessary building block, and the key to a meaningful connection to each other and our environment.


Subject Terms

mother; motherhood; maternal; nourish; breastmilk; breastfeeding; nurse; nursing; historical; tender


© All rights reserved




Eleanor Oakes, “Balancing Act (2),” CCS Research Repository, accessed July 13, 2024,

Output Formats