Nika Stein with performer Cristy Jefferson | Photographer: Wendy Robbins


Long before birth, parental experiences, thoughts and emotions leave their imprints on a child. Born of in-depth research into attachment theories and the significance of nurturing touch, Daughters is a performance installation that explores the bond between a parent and child. Countless portrayals of the Madonna with her son are woven into the fabric of Christian sacred art. This work engages critically with Christian iconography, opening a dialogue about the importance of all children.

In the church, an armchair is wrapped in fabrics of different shades of red, symbolizing the heart and the womb. The mother, depicted as a Madonna, sits in waiting. Organ music begins and the child appears: it’s a girl! She settles into her mother’s arms. Their movements are delicate and filled with meaning: gazes, caresses, whispers. Viewers witness this embodied dialogue, as faintly perceptible movements blur the lines between visual art and dance. Organ music and singing help to tell the story.

This work was first performed at Little Chapel-in-the-Woods, in Denton, Texas. There were five performances, each featuring a different child interpreted by women of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Daughters is looking for new opportunities. We would love to work with a very diverse group of “parents” and “children” to expand our research into inclusion and representation. We invite collaborative and explorative redefinitions of the work, making our way beyond its foundational Christian imagery, and integrating the notion of gender fluidity. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with creative input and propositions.