After a 20-year career in communications and media relations, Megan Galbraith turned her full attention to writing and recently earned her MFA in nonfiction. Saltonstall is her first residency, and she has spent the month working on what she hopes will be her first book — a collection of linked essays, titled “The Guild of the Infant Saviour.”
It’s a personal project. “I’m writing about my adoption in a way that is part social history and part memoir,” she says. “The essays tell the story of my birthmother in the years before Roe v. Wade, and my search for her in the present day,” she continues. The title of the collection comes from the name of the home for unwed mothers where Megan’s birthmother was sent to live in the mid-1960s. The taboo surrounding unwed mothers at that time is a central facet of Megan’s work. “Being unwed and pregnant was shameful,” she says. “When you’re writing about that kind of inherited shame, you think to yourself, ‘I’m not only the product of a shameful act; I’m the embodiment of it.’”
Megan also hopes to spin the essays into a hybrid narrative, incorporating photographs from another of her projects called, The Dollhouse, in which she creates 1:12th scale, room-by-room, female-centric utopias populated with 1960s-era dolls.
The “tin mansion” she brought with her to Saltonstall occupies a table in the middle of her studio. “Using play as a way into tough subjects like trauma and shame is very interesting to me,” she says “You play to control your world. This has opened up a lot of new ideas,. It’s also a little bit of a release valve,” she says, smiling, referring to the challenges of working so intensely during a residency.
photo of Megan taken through the “tin mansion’s” front door