Sunday, March 17, 2013

IBIS AND CROW: A PARABLE

Karen Bourque, artist 
One of the last places we visited before leaving “The Berry” (New Iberia, Louisiana) for our Spring and Summer sojourn on The Mountain at Sewanee, Tennessee was the home of Darrell and Karen Bourque in Church Point, Louisiana. Darrell, the former poet laureate of Louisiana, and Karen, a superb glass artist, served an Oriental tea for the occasion of “unveiling” a piece of exquisite glass art that Karen had made for me and Dr. Victoria Sullivan.
This year, we enjoyed several meal get-togethers and poetry readings with the Bourques and always came away inspired by this unique Louisiana couple. The Bourques have their own art gallery of famous Louisiana artists scattered throughout their renovated Cajun cottage, which is set among lush Louisiana plantings – bamboo, ginger trees, citrus trees, and various ferns in the undergrowth. Our conversations with them are always a mix of art, poetry, plants, good cuisine, and people of interest – including the newly-elected Pope who appeared on the balcony of the Papal palace on television shortly after we arrived at the Bourque home. Karen, a Roman Catholic, and Darrell, a Buddhist convert from Catholicism, engaged us in a lively conversation about whether the Pope would be more liberal than his predecessor.
Karen’s “Ibis and Crow: A Parable” glass piece was one of the last pieces to be unpacked when we settled in on The Mountain yesterday. We hung the lovely piece, 15 ¾” x 21 l/2,” made of sliced agate, Siberian jade, Jasper slab, Silver leaf jasper, Fluorite slab, Amethyst, Sun Stone, and stained glass, in a window of the dining area overlooking the small wood behind our cottage at Sewanee. The morning sun streams through green, yellow, red, and aqua glass, creating a reminder of a cherished friendship, and sets a contented tone for each day.
"Ibis and Crow: A Parable"
Karen chose my favorite bird, the crow, to include in the frame and the fluorite stone “to focus on enhancement of Diane's natural abilities and work as a scholar and poet; and the jasper stone with its associations to Vickie’s work in the natural world.” She also explained the symbolism of crows as representing transcendence and unconditional love, as well as that of creation and spiritual strength. The Ibis represents the god Thot, the god of learning and the sciences, and art in general.
“The other stones are mainly those of protection, spirituality, and peace, the very things you have both dedicated your lives to. My wish for both of you is that those qualities will guide you in all the days of your lives…the symbolism of the ibis and the crow, your respective favorite birds channeling your life’s work, can be seen everywhere in who and what you both are. It is my hope that you enjoy giving this piece a home as much as I have enjoyed making it for you” she wrote in the legend accompanying the “Parable.”
I call the glass work a “tribute” piece that only a sensitive artist like Karen could create. During conversations this year, she garnered information from both of us to create the representations, and we laughed at how “cunnai,” she was in wiggling information from us during casual conversations at the dinner table or during breaks at poetry readings so that she could create an authentic art piece.
Karen and Darrell Bourque, and
Diane Moore (middle)
Karen’s art pieces hang in many homes in Acadiana, and she has created stunning, larger works for the Ernest Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and for last year’s Louisiana Book Festival. She’s a great partner for Louisiana’s finest poet, Darrell Bourque, whose works capture the essence of the Cajun culture. Darrell’s latest volume of poetry, Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems From Acadie, is a masterpiece that focuses on the history and culture of south Louisiana, and, in my opinion, is the apex of his career as a poet and professor.

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