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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.

Updated: May 4

Almost 70 degrees out Lovely wind. Sunny April 27, 2021

I watched my grandson Matthew last week run three races at a track meet in Gobles with his mother Kathryn, my youngest child. Two were solo races he won. Handily! And the third race was a relay run with his three team mates. Which they won handily also.

This afternoon, sitting in the sun and feeling the wind enveloping me, I said to myself words I’ve said many times. In so many ways.

“Will someone please take the baton from me! I’m tired and can’t carry this any longer.”

Then it hit me, as THEY SAY. I can’t pass The Baton on to someone who isn’t up to speed! What I watched last Thursday in Gobles with my daughter. Of each team mate getting up to speed so they could take the baton without momentum being lost.

Which obviously forced me to clarify my statement. The Baton I was given long ago wasn’t a baton made of dead wood. But a Living Tree instead! With many branches full of fruit. Fruit I’ve been privileged to be nourished by all my life.

But I’m old now. I can no longer take proper care of this Tree. I can no longer prune the dead and unproductive limbs. Nor have I been able to distribute the delicious and beneficial fruit to others. Too foreign to them. Afraid to take even a bite. Except for a few brave souls. Who just love the fruit of “MY” Tree.

Not My Tree. I don’t own Her. I find myself the care-taker. Not owner. Realizing that I was up to speed as a young child. Why I found myself given this Living Baton. That I had no clue of what It was. Back then. But now, so clear.

The Tree of Life is there are for all of us. But we need first to get up to speed. To take The Living Baton and eat Her Fruit.

Updated: May 4

Yesterday, I again was struggling with being caught between art and science. Often I search the Internet trying to find links to people who might understand where I’m coming from.

A while back Robin, my webmaster, labeled my Guiltless Shells as Limbo Shells. So fitting! Describes my shells and me. At the same time.

You see, Robin is one person who gets it. That my shells are caught in limbo. Just like I am.

So I decided to look the word limbo up. For clues. And when I did, the first ten at least, were links for this movie coming out April 30. Four days from now!

“ Limbo "is a movie about four gentlemen. One from Syria, one from Afghanistan and two from Nigeria. The four of them refugees who find themselves together on a small Scottish island. Awaiting approval to join Scottish society. A true Limbo that has become an enormous dilemma for so many people in our world right now.

It’s written and directed by a person who saw the situation first hand in Syria. And found himself motivated to write the screenplay and labor to get it filmed. A true hero in my eyes. A person who would appreciate the screenplay I’ve found myself motivated to write also. So I realize he’d see my efforts as heroic also.

So this is a time for me to share what my Limbo looks like. Hoping that when the movie gets notice, the link to my own Limbo situation would get exposure too.

I’ve always felt like the ugly duckling. A swan cygnet who finds herself surrounded by a float of goslings. When I was young, I didn’t get it. But at the age of 77, I can see that this seems to be my burden/calling.

When I married my first husband, a full blood Tlingit Indian from Alaska, I had no idea what was ahead. A red heart in the body of a white woman. Opposites. And my husband struggling with the same issue. But in reverse.

There is a Star Trek: Voyager episode about Tuvok and Neelix uniting them in a transporter accident making a new person of the two of them. A really good one to watch. That’s how I “see” myself. A combination of many bothered. Culture, religion, art, science.

I remember a class on Learning I took back in the 80’s at Grand Valley State. A psychology course. And the professor saying to me after reading my essays. “You have so many more hues within you that come out through your words. At the time, I gave this little thought. But now I know what he was revealing to me.

So this comes out in my writing now and my art. Most obviously exposed in my shells.

And the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Fair of 2001! Right in my face. Finally aware. What Limbo was all about. What I’ve been living my whole life. In lots of ways. But so clear at the Show.

As a child, I collected seashells. And it was the science that appealed to me. I loved their beauty, but it was their lives I ached to study. That never left me.

So when quit live-collecting in 1987, I lost the chance to collect and buy specimen Gastropoda. So, the nudge to TRY to form a long spiraled seashell was coming from the science side of me.

When I found myself able to express the shell of a snail, without killing It, it was the intellectual part of me that realized what I’d been able to do.

Here’s two examples. Minerals are collected and studied just like Mollusks. With polymer clay, there are many people able to create faux minerals. Ones that look real! Just like my shells. And these people are bringing into being a “mineral” that can be collected and used just like my shells. Get people to connect with the science behind the natural ones.

And then there’s Fordite! Not a natural mineral. But looks just like agates. Because of paint, layers of paint, baked in the furnaces of Detroit car companies. Someone noticed this and saw a new “mineral” in its own right.

So you could go on the internet and find lots of images of polymer “minerals” and much Fordite. But when it comes to the snail shell, I’m the only one able to say, “They Look Real!”

I get it. My words don’t make much sense. I can’t put this into words. What it’s like for me. To find myself able to form one of a kind shells. That can do anything a real shell can do. And I can’t get them known. Properly.

At The Shell Fair, I realized that My Shells wanted to be recognized by the science community. Not just the art community. And even the art community, we didn’t fit there either. You know when your out of place. Not where you should be. That was me.

So Limbo it is. Why I said in the earlier essay, my shells and I belonged in the Lobby. Between the science exhibits and art exhibits.

Can you see why this movie means so much to me? Speaks for me! How I feel! Why I need to contact the writer/director.

Writing this today, I recognize the movie speaks for people like myself also.

Pink Eagle (Annie Olson)

Updated: May 4


When I was 12 years old, I had access to large mounds of fresh sand that had been dug from the ground in order to build our new home only five minutes from here.

My husband Phil and I live in a condo off West 32nd St. in Holland, Michigan. Close to Lake Michigan, so there’s lots of sand hidden below.

So what would a 12 year old girl, between childhood and the pull of adolescent do with all these beige grains.

Make trails, of course!

I have always loved trails, so it was so much fun to stamp my feet into the soft sand to make trails up and around those piles. My own miniature mountain in our future front yard.

So what’s that got to do with these two Great Horned Owl chicks?

As you can see by the photos I took Sunday morning, there is an owlet in front of our front door and another below a large pine tree close to our condo. This is really the beginnning of the story, that is like a trail I’m on with a number of other people who joined me Sunday morning. A trail we’re still on. And a trek I invite whoever want to, to join us. A spiritual as well as a physical journey.

So this is the story of this Owl Family too. At the same time.

It started on Saturday, when the two of them found themselves on the ground. Their nest we surmise destroyed by strong winds. On the asphalt pavement with no where to go. Obviously the parents were unable to help them to safety. Instinct instead, like a parent, seems to have guided them to a safe place.

Monday, after all the excitement that I’ll relate tomorrow, I felt drawn to look around. And what I discovered was a trail! Every 2 feet, a half dollar sized white chalk-like circle. A poop trail. Strange it was then and was this morning again for me. Almost seeing them crawling with much struggle out of the road and the onto the grass and then back onto our asphalt driveway. There must be at least twenty chalk white circles that finally end in front of our garage close to the front door. I took many photos but I’d need a drone to go above so you could see their trek over alien material.

I realize this may be hard to grasp. But please bare with me as I attempt to relate the feel of this path we’re on. As I said, tomorrow I will share the details in a more orderly manner. But I’m so taken by their chalk white trail, I needed to start there.

By the way, as most of you know, I sculpt with polymer clay. One of my favorite animals is The Owl. So I will be posting photos with the story of how I form an owl. Step by step. Just like the trail we’re on together today.

Annie Olson

April 14, 2021