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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, 2021

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, 2021


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

Updated: May 4, 2021

The other day, thanks to all this modern technology, I was able to see and talk to my great granddaughter Lorna up in Alaska yesterday. FaceTime! Who would have known we’d be able to do this? She’s not quite 4 years old. About the same age I was when I sat in that soft, comfortable chair in my bedroom untangling my shoe laces.

So it made sense to tell Lorna about a story of what I when I was her age. I started with asking her if she knew what shoe laces were. I’m asking her this as she carries her mom’s iPhone all over the place. I see Hemingway, their cat with multiple toes just like the cats in Key West. Descendants of Earnest Hemingway, the writer. Writer of one of my favorites. The Old Man and the Sea.

I didn’t think she was hearing me. Lorna is a very open and talkative child, so I was surprised when she said to me. “We’re going downstairs to my bedroom.”

Now, I gotta tell ya! It’s an interesting thing to find yourself “riding” a iPhone when Facetime is on with a almost four year old controlling the reins. I try not to get dizzy but enjoying the guided tour.

At first, it isn’t clear to me why Lorna brought us downstairs. But then she brings out her book. With the title, “Tangled”.

Now realize, I try to keep up with my children, grandchildren and greats. But so much to remember. I’d vaguely heard about this movie done by Disney eleven years ago. But I hadn’t made the association with myself and my love of tangled shoe strings over 70 years ago.

Quickly I realized that Laura had been listening to me! Listening well! To what I was relating to her.

The Internet is amazing! I looked up when Disney released it. The story line. That it was a retelling of a Grimms Brothers story of Rapunzel. (I am not a very good speller and I chuckle of how good the logarithm is to guess what I’m trying to spell). I won’t bore you with how poorly I tried to spell her name.

This all began with me sitting in a chair long ago untangling knots. Which led to the King and I movie. And then the Puzzlement song. Much more to say on that later. But for now, a lighthearted window in a bit of our family life. And modern ways to keep in touch.

Annie Olson (Pink Eagle)

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