It's really happening!

I can not explain the progress of our collaborative 
project any better. So, below is LouAnn's recent blog 
post. I have said it many times before; Spring is a 
great time for creative energies. The time when those 
hibernated ideas climb out and insist upon being 
heard. The time when I get this Spring urgency for 
action, passed down from generations of farmers... 
Time to embrace new growth.

Litany Bowl Series, Shaggy Tinder

It is really happening!
by LouAnn Muhm, louannmuhm.com
March 22, 2014

After two years, and much planning, dreaming, and work,
Reassurances: Incantation Bowls, Reimagined is getting
ready for its debut.  We are pretty sure (contracts in the
works) that the collection will be exhibited in Pennsylvania
in October of this year. It is truly amazing to think back to
the inception of this crazy idea (read more here and here)
and to realize that Tiffany Besonen and I have actually
made it happen, with the help of the Minnesota State Arts
Board, Region 2 Arts Council, and a number of individuals,
most notably Jennifer Heath, who was there when we had
the idea, helped us talk it out, and has supported it all along.
Jill Odegaard is doing the same now, helping us finalize all
the moving parts, and helping us imagine new moving parts.

The bowls pictured are smaller, more fragile ones, each
with one line of a poem called “Litany”–a list of my
wishes, for myself and for the world. The small bowls are
as beautiful as the big ones, and their fragility echoes the
fragility of my hopes. Both require careful handling.

I am continually amazed at the way Tiffany’s visual
images enhance and expand my understanding and
appreciation of my own words.  Writing poetry is such a
mystical process, and writing these incantations has been
even more so. Listening to Tiffany’s process of thinking,
and seeing how her imagery has evolved–now crow and
fox are emerging as themes, with all their mythical,
metaphorical and symbolic richness–has made my own
process deeper and more meaningful.  This is the beauty
of collaboration. The work of the collaborators intertwines
and informs itself and becomes something wholly different
than the component parts alone.

Stay tuned for more definite news, and thanks for being

LouAnn Muhm is the recipient of an Artist Initiative 
Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This 
activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State 
Legislature from the State’s arts and cultural heritage 
 fund with money from the vote of the people of 
Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.


Litany Bowls Series

Currently, I'm making more progress on Reassurances:
Incantation Bowls Reimagined, an art and poetry
collaboration with poet LouAnn Muhm. LouAnn wrote
the poetry. I am creating the illustrated and inscribed
bowls. Exhibition possibilities are becoming more of a
reality, really moving this project forward.

Now I am working on adding LouAnn's words from her
incantation poems onto the surface of more bowls. Uniting
the words and illustrations onto the sewing pattern paper
surfaces proves to be a powerful and long-anticipated
process--a coming together of three art forms to create
one. Ideas are brewing about how they will be displayed
and how they will interact with the viewers.

Below is the series of smaller bowls, each containing a
line to Litany, an incantation poem by LouAnn Muhm.

As far as we know, the ancient incantation bowls were
only really viewed by the maker(s) and the family before
they were buried under the threshold (and sometimes
windows) outside of the family home. 

About ancient incantation bowls:
In 2010, I was educated about the large numbers of ancient 
Babylonian incantation bowls, 6th-8th Century CE, that have 
been unearthed in Iraq since the 1990s. Although there are some 
variations, most ancient incantation bowls are shallow bisqueware 
forms with a simplified character painted in the center and an 
incantation against a particular fear inscribed starting along the rim 
and spiraling toward the illustration. Each bowl and its incantation 
was created for a specific family’s plea for assurances against fears 
and was buried upside down, under the threshold of the family’s 


Relief & Reunion, 6 years later

Yesterday was in the 40s! Yesterday was in the 40s! After
70 days below zero here in Northern Minnesota since
December 1st, this is news and such a relief. Living in the
coldest place in the contiguous United States, I often think
about the Canadians North of us. Why aren't they whinier?

People are buzzing around, and breathing out a collective
sigh. Our dog, Wimpy, is diving head first into snow banks
and coming up with a mouthful of snow and a doggy grin.

LouAnn, art collaborator and dear friend, and I went skiing
in the woods yesterday. I've been wanting to get out to the
curved fallen-pine site deep in our woods for some time
now. Six years ago I placed these AMBIOTIC sculptures in
our woods and began documenting the change over a couple
years. Other projects took precedence, yet I've been
wondering. The anticipation to reach the site was building
yesterday, and then they appeared. It was an overdue
reunion. The first thing out of my mouth, "They are so
dark." Over time, they have darkened, shifted, shriveled,
become more ash-like, and recently lichen-coated.  

"Brittle expectancies", from one of LouAnn's recent
incantation poems, seems fitting here. (Click on images
to enlarge and see better detail.)

6 years, 2008-2014. Sewing pattern paper, wax, wire, gel medium.
2014. The words and graphic markings of the sewing paper still there.
2014. They may look like ice, but there are still some beeswax edges.
2014.   Taking on hive form & texture, with some added lichen-coating.
Maybe this was an exercise in patience, or aging, or letting
go. Five years ago in the post Can you be still?, I wrote,
"A year in the woods. Today, February 1, 2009, deer tracks
lead the way back to this place. Once again, the resiliency is
encouraging me to be in winter, be still, and watch. Like water,
I tend to flow in many directions, but not today."

A special thank you to Mr. Besonen for grooming the ski
trails and making my art time possible.

View from under the installation in 2008
Detail in 2008