As part of celebrating International Women’s Day–in addition to Women’s History Month– it’s important to highlight the working mothers of the world. Both Katelijne De Backer (Director, PULSE Contemporary Art Fair) and Cristina Salmastrelli (Director, Affordable Art Fair NYC Spring) are powerful women who serve as leaders within the art community and inspire mothers at home.
De Backer has found overlaps between the way she leads at work and her role as a mom. “Since becoming a mom, I have learned to manage my staff in a more motherly way,” she says. “Be firm and clear, and at the same time be compassionate and forgiving. Overall, being a working mom has made me put things in perspective much more. Nothing is as bad as people sometimes present, there is always a solution to everything, and there is no need for a lot of drama: All the things I have learned from dealing with the little tantrums at home.”
As a working mother, De Backer has found her son has learned a lot from watching her. “My son, who is turning 14 this year, has visited almost every art fair I have produced. He still comes to them now, and a highlight for me is watching him engage with my clients, as he does it in the most professional way,” De Backer says. “It makes me so very proud, particularly because I can tell he respects the work his mom does… Plus, seeing that he’s learned that skill from me is very rewarding.”
Cristina Salmastrelli reveals that she’s always had tons of respect for working moms, but never completely understood all that it truly entails. “I never fully understood the emotional trials and tribulations one goes through until I finally became a mom myself. Now working late or traveling for work has an entirely different meaning,” she says. “I have come to enjoy my ‘alone time’ when away, but when I come home, walk through the door and see him smiling at me, that moment turns magical.” Since moving into this mom role, Salmatrelli has felt a sense of empowerment. She adds, “I definitely felt the ‘I CAN do it all’ feeling while breast pumping at work. When I came home every night and was able to provide him with a bottle of it, I felt that I accomplished something both professionally and personally. I had my cake and ate it, too!”
Even though Salmastrelli says she already felt like the “mom” of her work office, now she actually is, and with that comes discoveries about this new walk of life. “I feel validated when I question if one should really be going out on a Tuesday night for late night drinks,” she says. “It’s become a fun joke at work, but in all seriousness, I am realizing that perfect parents and perfect children do not exist. The path to adulthood is filled with many obstacles, missteps and discoveries. Like my co-workers that I care for, I need to remind myself that I am on a journey of self-discovery with my son, but it’s his adventure. I am there to nurture and support, but I am just a passenger.”