[Leslie Carol Botha: Ya gotta love gutsy, artistic women. Jill Miller – has created a ‘Milk Truck’ for breastfeeding mothers in Pittsburgh who have been harassed for nursing in public. Is Miller the next Judy Chicago? She purchased a 1990 ice cream truck, painted the pink and outfitted it with a breast-milk pumping station, a rug and some chairs.]
In Pittsburgh, Public Art Doubles as a Sanctuary for Breast-Feeding Moms
September 16, 2011
If you’re a nursing mother being made to feel uncomfortable for breast-feeding your baby in public, you might want to consider moving to Pittsburgh. On Sept. 17, (2011) that city will unveil a mobile sanctuary for breast-feeding moms. You can’t miss it: it’s a souped-up ice cream truck with a 3-ft. fiberglass boob on top, painted light pink, with a hot-pink areola and a flashing dome light for a nipple.
“It’s definitely something to marvel at,” says Jill Miller, the truck’s creator and an instructor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. ”We joke we had to give it a breast reduction because it was too tall.”
For all its gimmicky appeal, there’s a serious back story to the truck’s evolution. Miller, who had moved to Pittsburgh from San Francisco, noticed that breast-feeding on the East Coast attracted way more unwelcome attention than it had out West. She heard stories about women being harassed by mall security guards and about fellow mothers making snide comments. After an urgent-care nurse gasped at the sight of Miller nursing her 15-month-old, Miller figured Pittsburgh could use a little enlightening.
When Miller was invited to participate in the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial exhibition at the city’s Andy Warhol Museum, she decided to use the opportunity to champion both public art and public breast-feeding.
With $18,000 raised mostly through Kickstarter, which helps creative projects find seed money, Miller purchased a 1990 ice cream truck, gussied up the interior with pink paint and brushed aluminum and outfitted it with a breast-milk pumping station, a rug and some chairs.
Women anywhere in the Pittsburgh area can contact The Milk Truck through its Facebook and Twitter sites, if they’re told they can’t nurse in a public place or have been admonished to cover up or find a restroom. The truck will also make rounds providing a private place for working mothers to pump milk.
Miller, along with a former La Leche League leader and a doula, say they are “first responders,” and they anticipate helping lots of local moms. “Basically, the truck shows up, and we have a nursing party,” says Miller. There will be snacks and lawn chairs and a soundtrack featuring some classic odes to femininity: Rusty Warren’s “Bounce Your Boobies” and Ruth Wallis’ “Boobs.”