Sept. 12 - Oct. 17, 2014
Artist Reception: Oct. 16; 6:15 – 7:45 p.m.
Harmon Hall of Peace, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA
Since 2010, LouAnn Shepard Muhm and Tiffany Besonen have been
collaborating to create a collection of incantation bowls, in which
Muhm’s incantations against fears are inscribed on Besonen’s translucent
sewing pattern bowl forms. In 2010, Muhm and Besonen were educated
about the large numbers of ancient Babylonian incantation bowls, 6th-8th
Century CE, that have been unearthed in Iraq since the 1990s. 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 were created for a specific
family’s plea for assurances against particular fears. The bowl was
then buried upside down under the threshold of the family’s home. This collaboration between artist Tiffany Besonen and poet
LouAnn Muhm has resulted in bowls containing incantations against
cancer, violence, poverty, ignorance, and loss of hope, as well as in a
series of Besonen’s dreamlike doors within doors, echoing the idea of
the threshold. The results are powerful and hopeful.
Reassurances: Incantation Bowls Reimagined
(sewing pattern bowl forms containing LouAnn Muhm's
poetry and doors within in doors paintings) is being
installed this week at the Lachaise Gallery. Like a child
before Christmas, I am counting down the days until we go
to Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Details
and an exhibit summary statement are here.
Like most artists and teachers, I have always been good at
working alone. So, this collaboration thing is kind of new
for me. Of course it helps that I have a collaborator who
gets me, as only a dear friend can. We have found that
poetry and art-making have some things in common and
some differences, but they are both a mixture of hard
work and awe. The results are always gifts.
I can not fully explain my excitement when LouAnn hands
me the gift of her words. Having first access to new poetry
is a gift in itself, but then responding to new poetry that
hasn't been out in the world yet is pretty extraordinary.
This is the motivating and daunting part, someone is relying
on me to create something new from those words--
someone who trusts and inspires me. I want to give back.
Now, the collaboration is bigger than us, and sent out into
the world. Reassurances are always gifts.
Incantation Bowls nested, packaged and ready to send.