Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Memory Garden

I just completed a commish last week. It was a difficult task, I must admit....most commissions are because you have to balance the needs of the client, all the while standing firm on your personal aesthetic. Last March I was approached by Louis and Donna who wanted me to create a shrine that was a memorial to there departed shih tsu doggies as well as a celebration of the garden and growing and life.

I found a phone nook as the base and I started my process. Lou supplied me with a barometer and a few other items, from there I was on my own. I had the bright idea of using Anubis as the theme. Anubis is the dog headed god in Egyptian it turns out he is also Guarder of the Veil (of the dead). A perfect metaphor.This then led me to the idea of making the piece a piece about transformation. Life, death, rebirth. So the idea of the garden played nicely into the idea.

I created a number of little nooks so that personal items could be places in them. I have a little nook here that has an old rabies tag. It opens to a place to put a dog tag or the like.

Originally I was going to take an actual image of Anubis as the central image, then I thought that I would take a human figurine, slice off the head and and replace it with a Shih tzu head...sort of a personalized Anubis. What I rapidly found out was that when you put a Shih tzu head on a human...presto you have a wookie. So I scrapped that idea. I went to a more restrained approached and photo shopped a Shih tzu head onto a vintage photo. Same idea but a little classier. Don't you think?
I love the final result. Always a relief when the clients like it as much as you do...yes they did give me the thumbs up on the piece. Especially since I kept it a secret until it was done, which I always do. The reason being is that the piece usually changes so much during the process that the client may not recognize it by the end of the journey. So thanks to Lou and Donna...enjoy.


Jen said...

Not entirely sure what a "phone nook" is but I love what you turned it into. :)

azirca said...

How fabulous Michael, what a special piece both in meaning and it's entirety. I really love how you have included the little nooks that can be personalized and treasured mementos placed in them.

Judy Wise said...

One of your best. What a lucky client!

Tara Finlay said...

Presto: a wookie. HEH! I am dying over here. That was great. And the art kicks ass too, as per usual.

Ottilias Veranda said...

Wow!, what a lovely piece! I totally admire your work.I would very much like to take one of Your classes some day and so would my husband (We live in Sweden though,but somewhere and somehow we will!)

Jen Crossley said...

Totally amazing Michael !!

kitasmom said...

amazing....absolutely amazing! Linda

Karen Cole said...


Michael, this is incredible. I love the little "imbedded" watchamacallits.

Glad to see you are finally going to be teaching at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh. Let me know if you want info on where to stay and some great places to eat and ............drink!!!