Fumiko Chino's Mom Has a Posse

Houston-based artist taps into her maternal instinct

June 1, 2003

Fumiko Chino wants to put her mom on your chest. Or, if you prefer, on your shoulder strap, the flap of your purse or wherever you like to wear button pins. For the past two years, Chino has been putting moms’ faces (her own mom and others’) on buttons and giving them away. You, too, could have one.

Chino has collected her mothers from friends and is now disseminating 14 moms. The photos — of moms in their youth, before they became moms — are all black and white, all tinted differently to distinguish each from the next. The 25-year-old Houstonian stamps the buttons herself and then gives them away to people she meets on the street, in bars, wherever she goes.

And she has learned an interesting fact about each mom to tell the recipient as she gives the button away. This mom myth-making is rife with tales of glam photo-booth shoots in El Paso, poor, studious moms with only one pair of shoes, moms killing cockroaches with their bare feet.

The artist’s message is simple: she just wants to share the revelation that moms are people, too.

“They’re just like us!” Chino gushes. “These attractive, very well put-together women are our moms! You look at them and it just makes you happy!”

Chino is not new to the button medium; The Moms were preceded by a project involving photos of disfigured hands, each of which looked like a letter of the alphabet. But The Moms have a broader appeal. By now, Chino has given away 400 to 500 buttons, and her siblings and friends are spreading them enthusiastically for her — in Houston, San Francisco, New York, and even Tokyo.

To get your own mom buttons, just send an SASE to Fumiko Chino, P.O. Box 980651, Houston, TX 77098.

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