Annie O.jpg

Annie Olson

"Artist Musings"

Come into my shell with me! My "Artist Musings" will give you an insight into my inner workings and why I create these faux shells and other works of art.

When I found myself on a plane on September 16 of this year going to Los Angeles for the Event at the Academy of Motion Pictures apologizing to Sacheen Littlefeather the next evening, I realized that this article needed to be written when I returned. I just didn’t know how these three days would unfold. Or who would interview me.

A friend called the Holland Sentinel after I returned and said he thought I should be interviewed. So I got a called from Austin Metz and we sat in my favorite Biggby coffee shop. For two hours Austin listened to the whole story of my journey of seeing through White and Red eyes at the same time. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to hear my words. Austin had this rare ability to allow a very safe place for me to speak.

This is the article that he wrote. A complement to the art I create.

My hope that in these troubling times, this article will offer peace. Click the pic for the full article.


By the way, I can’t help but mention what’s on CNN right now. Hurricane Ian hitting as a plus four. Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel-Captiva being hit so hard. Both barrier islands. Where I first fell in love with Gastropoda.

Thanks for visiting our site!

This essay is for you, Robin. But it should be put on the website. And I will also try to write a short take on it for my personal and Essence of the Spiral Facebook.

The other morning I got up early again. 5:30 or so. It’s been a long month. Getting ready for the library demonstration from 2 to 4. And then 5pm at the Yacht club for my 60th high school class reunion. Making the shells, printing text and bagging them. And then the next day a Baha’i conference in Grand Rapids. And the Sunday before a similar conference in Kalamazoo. Doing the shells too. The one a week ago Sunday was long for this 78 year old grandma and great grandma. Bob Hamilton picked me up at 7:15 am and we got home at 8 pm. And Friday the graduation party for Andrew and Matthew. College and high school. Shells to make for giveaways and veggie platter. Not so hard. Just the mental and emotional aspects of all of these different events has really worn me out. Why I have yet to post on the Facebook pages.

So this morning, as most mornings I sit down with a cup of coffee and Miga, our faithful cat on my lap. The sun not yet up. A dialog with my other self. The rider of the two of us.

You see, Robin I’m a talking horse that also knows how to use this iPad to express my thoughts. Which are just as much hers as mine. I realize I need to give my inner person, the other me a name. Which brings me to the name you gave the website.

Essence of the Spiral

Robin, it’s as if you mind melded with me like Mr. Spock of Star Trek. And took that Knowing. And gave my life story a Proper Name.

Essence is such a powerful concept. People should be required to make maple syrup. Taking the sap from a living, healthy maple tree. Collecting lots and lots of wood to burn. Setting up a large pot over the fire and spending hours to boil away most of the water. To “capture” the essence of the maple tree’s Blood. Only then would people be able to grasp a bit of what Essence means. Forming the shells has given me an intimacy with the very Essence of the Spiral as I’ve created each one.

What my experience in October of 1987 was all about. The boiling away of all the water of our history. Of how we got the Land to be America Upon and With.

And the Spiral! Of course! Not about Shells! But the Spiral!

I realized I needed to start with name of the website on Facebook. So I began with the name. The Spiral, the building block of the Universe.

In the meantime last week at that conference, the meeting was closed by a Local Native woman. She spent maybe a half hour sharing and closed with a Smudging and Water ceremony. Which I participated in.

After the ceremony she put the abalone shell and feathers in her bag. During the Smudging, I wondered, “does she know what a live abalone looks like.?” So when a touched it, this awareness was very clear. The need for Indigenous People in America who Smudge to know the live animal that produced the very shell they use to light the sweet grass or sage. And all the money copies they place on their regalia.

The next day or so I looked it up. I knew abalones were overfished. Endangered. But shocked to see all the extreme appropriation in selling. And same on money cowries

Smudge Kits!

So this is what transpired today. A coming together of words I heard over and over again as I formed shells for people. They heard me speak of this animal, a slug, that is able to make a beautiful shell. This lowly, despised life form.

I remember how shocked I was. Taken aback. Couldn’t comprehend they didn’t know.

Person after person thought the shells on the beach were just there to pick up. Like a rock. Or that the hermit crabs made them. The shell museum on Sanibel had the same problem. In their fund raiser to build the aquarium it’s about a shell museum filled with shells unable too. To get people to realize a live animal makes these shells. The need to see the live ones. Handle them.

So here we are as a nation seeing The Land like an empty shell ready for us to pick and enjoy. Oblivious to the reality that The people who’ve cared and nurtured This Land are here and alive.

So we see a galaxy. And look at it as a shell. That just somehow is on the beach. And acting as if no one made the galaxy in the first place.

So this essay is really about The Unknowable Essence that made that galaxy. But most of all created this Force. The Spiral that is the very building block of our Universe.

So we treat the Universe just like those people on the beach. Ignorant of something so clear. That a powerful entity had to exist to create a beautiful shell. Our Milky Way Galaxy. A Spiral Galaxy

So often when I form a shell, one question people ask me is this. “Who taught you to do this?”

As if I was incapable of coming up with this on my own.

This is strange essay to write. Not yet very clear. The metaphor is right there but will require people to chew it for themselves.

So Robin, I can’t thank you enough for not only listening but Knowing with me! Why you alone had the capacity to name Our Site.

Essence of the Spiral

I wanted to write this before I lost the concept. “A galaxy like a empty seashell. Acting as if nothing formed It. Just like ignorant beachcombers.”

With deep love and hugs


Today in the car going to Grand Rapids to get Phil’s scooter repaired, I saw the name tag with my name on it. Stuck to the window armrest.


As Phil drove us there, it occurred to me. What if I’d been known as Annie all my life instead of Pam?

I mentioned this to Phil on the way home. And he, like myself, agreed that Annie sounds much friendlier. When your name is called, Annie comes across so differently than Pam.

By the way, it was a set damaged batteries and they replaced them for far less than we expected. So Phil now

has wheels again!

Thankful to small favors.

So I think today I’m going to look up about names. Not just Pam or Annie. But about the emotional perception of names. Of who we are according to the physical name we’re called by. Not our given name. Name on our birth and death certificates, SS card, driver’s and marriage licenses etc.

Why I took my middle name. Ann. To give a name to my art in 1999 for a artist brochure Phil and David were creating for me. Annie’s Arc. The Rainbow. The symbol of Peace from God after The Flood for humans to see. And a reminder that all life was given that promise too.

Funny! I never have pondered this before. I’ve wished I’d been called Annie as a child. But not about how I’d have been treated and accepted if I’d been known as Annie instead of Pam.