Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Monday, December 6, 2010

A Walk Through The Universe: The Vessel, Week 1

December is here, although I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of that!  It's chilly outside, but we're still on our endless stroll through the universe, having taken a new path for December to ponder the notion of The Vessel.  I was fortunate to meet Lynnie Ashworth through the recommendation of our featured artist last week, Abby Leigh Johnson. We've corresponded through the week and I'm happy to relay to you her work and her thoughts about a subject we have each experienced in our lives: loss.  Lynnie deals intimately with loss through the small vessel form, in ways which she will describe first through a slightly edited form of the artist's statement from her thesis exhibition and then in the answers she gave to some follow-up questions I posed.  

Dad, 1-2" high

Loss is a happening, an emotion, or feeling.  It is a universal concept, an essential component of life, and part of human nature.   Each of us has suffered a type of loss.  For some, it may be the kind of loss that leaves a gaping emotional hole that is difficult to recover from.  For others, it could be a type of loss that might be forgotten by the end of the day, such as a pair of sunglasses or keys.  While there are different types of loss, it is very much a part of the living processes.  This idea or concept is not only part of being human but part of life in general.  Most living forms encounter loss, whether it is a tree shedding its leaves, or a lioness that has taken down an antelope’s young.  It is all loss, a cycle of living life.

Being human and suffering loss is ubiquitous.  Around the world people and living creatures are enduring losses of all kinds and of varying degrees.   We see these losses documented everyday.  The compartments and the divergent types of loss that we as humans suffer is part of who we are as people.  Loss for the majority brings change, whether it was desired or not.   Some of the adaptations from loss will cause individuals to experience growth and transformation.   For others, they may find it debilitating. Sometimes people suffer the same loss, like the death of a father.  Yet their reaction and coping with that loss can and will be very individual and unique.  Loss is a phenomenon that we all endure and go through, however there is no set way to react, feel, or understand a particular loss.

As humans we also, compartmentalize our losses throughout life; this is part of being a higher intelligence, unlike other living things.   Some people experience loss to point of having different personalities, but this is the extreme.  Most of us shelf or contain these losses each time we sustain them.   Some “containers” are large, small, battered, cracked or banged up.  Loss can be documented by a memory, this memory maybe painful and may be contained and put away.  Some vessels maybe reopened over time, while others will be hidden among the past evidence of loss that has been purposefully forgotten.  The owner, never knowing if the vessels will expose themselves again and with what kind of force they will unleash.

As we travel through our lives and the lives that are to be born, we will endure varying degrees of loss like all other life forms.  However, our lives will be molded and modeled by the losses we experience.  Our emotions and cognitive thinking will decide how we compartmentalize what we have undergone.  We as humans cannot see, feel, or understand loss without love.  We are ruled by love and thereby will forever be affected by loss.  Loss is sustained by love and love always cohabits with loss.

Below is a selection of Lynnie's work, beginning with a brief description of each grouping and the interactive nature of the pieces.

 Rings constructed in copper and rubber...they all will hold water but it will leak out causing loss.

The set of four brooches are perfume vessels that have a silver bottom with holes.  They each leak onto the wearer to illustrate various types of loss, ie: one that leaves a mark (this vessel holds ink) another is a burning loss (this vessels holds bleach), one loss that is tearful (this vessels holds salt water) and finally a lingering loss (this one holds perfume).

From these I ventured into Loss, the 25 brooches.  When a brooch is removed from the frame it too suffers a loss, as an echo of it's form is left behind. 

The other work is also from my thesis show.  Each person got a pin at my show.  It was a portion of a larger vessel (Life's Losses).  The glue I used on the brooches was intentionally poor.  I wanted the viewer to feel the loss of the clay bit from my show, leaving behind only the pin mechanism.

Badge of Loss, 1-2"

Life's Losses

Further elaboration came from Lynnie's answers to my questions below:

I'm curious about your background and whether you were already a sculptor/jeweler or someone working in three dimensions and you wanted to deal with the subject of loss or whether you felt the need to deal with "loss" and decided the best vehicle would be the container or vessel that allowed a very visceral idea of the idea.

I guess I was a bit of a "chameleon artist" for most of my teaching career.  It seems whatever my students were studying I ended up working in myself.  I have always leaned toward the 3-D aspect.  However, painting miniature water colors is what drew me to jewelry.  I had done some commission work for a woman that wanted to know if I could "set" a painting in a piece of jewelry.  And so I rallied up books and equipment and have never looked back.  The subject of Loss was one I turned to because I desperately wanted a concept that most every person can understand.  The irony is I highly doubt I would have gone to grad school, had I not lost my Dad to cancer.  In many ways it was his influence on how I dealt with his loss had a direct impact on each piece of my work.  There are two pieces that truly reflect the different stages of my personal loss.  Albatross, the large vessel with the visible cracks and holes that weigh around one's neck is how I felt for many years.  Where as the chatelaine, more of a badge, reflects where I am today, 14 years later.  It all became very cathartic process. 

I find it fascinating that you gave each person a pin at the reception for your thesis show, but intentionally, making it so that they would, in effect, fall apart, causing the person at some point in the future to experience loss in a real way. Were they at all aware that this might happen? Did you hear from people who had lost their tiny container and what was their reaction?

I put a lot of thought into viewer with regards to my show.  I wanted them to interact, not just see.  I invited people to handle all of the work. (I had friends walking around encouraging this to happen)  One of my fellow grads was shocked when I preposed the idea.  My comment was, "well if it breaks or is stolen, isn't that Loss?". Each piece sat on a tea stained pillow, when the viewer removed the work there was an echo of what was there, so that the display space suffered the evidence of loss while it was handled.
I was contacted by a few people asking if  they could get another pin because their's had fallen apart. I obliged saying and warned the same thing would happen. I even had one rather rude person chastise me for using poor glue.  With tongue in check I asked her if she recalled what the concept of my show.  She said she did.  I replied "well then, my point has been made, you have experienced a sense of loss through my poor choice of glue." 

As you talk about in your statement, the experience and sense of loss is universal and an ongoing part of life. Do you think you have fully explored loss in these small vessel forms or are you still finding new ways to talk about this subject and its meaning in our lives. I guess the short form of this question is....what's next?

I think in the sense of the vessel form I have explored these forms for now.  I am still working with the idea of Loss, however being more focused on different types of loss.  I am presently tossing around the fact that I think children are losing so much of their childhood today because of the lack of "play".  I am investigating this idea with the toys we as 40+ played with.  I hope to draw a memory or smile to the viewer about the childhood we have lost.  And cause them to wonder what the youth around has lost not having played with toys that use the imagination and hands on concepts.  Like the original Loss work, I hope to have them interact with the viewer...
I will also be doing some collaborative work with Memory and Loss with your last blog highlight Abby Leigh Johnson in the near future.

Lynnie did provide a few more images, but alas, Blogger is giving me fits and it's quite a feat that I have been able to assemble this feature into some form of coherence with what I've posted....so I'll leave you here with some links to Lynnie Ashworth's website here, as well as her blog, and brand new Etsy shop (not yet stocked, but I'm sure you could stay tuned!)

Hope you all are enjoying the early days of December...some of us are warm and some of us are freezing...just how it goes!  Thanks for reading this post and hope you've enjoyed meeting Lynnie!


  1. What a wonderful post.. The vessels are so beautiful and so is the story of losss. Thank you for sharing.

  2. How absolutely amazing... Lynnie nailed it in a most luscious, beautifying sort of way. Her art, her words, all of it...
    Thank you~♥

  3. Katelen and Kira...thanks for your comments. I found Lynnie's work very compelling also, especially dealing with a subject so hard to get a handle on. Glad you found this post meaningful!

  4. P - Thanks for the post - amazing work and depth of thought. Amazing what meaning artists can put into their work. I thnk that is often such a powerful but often unrecognised dimension of the work. B


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