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Elaine Savoie – Hornby Island

She makes them up. Either she makes up the whole damn thing – or else she just freely weaves her own story into them. Into these “saints,” that is. Into these corvid and chicken-icons. St. Abundance. St. Laya. St. Riel. And all the others. Some have “real” saints’ names, but she’s made up all or part of their hagiographies. There is an icon of her father, who built the Catholic church on the island, but with whom Elaine has argued about orthodoxy all her life. There’s an icon to pain, to a woman’s sexual pleasure, to the explosive forces within a marriage.

Hearing this, you might think these icons are just irreverent – iconoclastic icons, as it were. After all, they do break every rule.

But that never occurred to us when we were with them – because they come from such a sharp, intelligent questioning. They come from a woman who as a young girl felt such a profound spiritual awareness that pat catechism answers just left her more dissatisfied.

So now her icons feel like wry conversations with the sacred. “Come on,” they seem to ask, “Let’s be honest here – how do you really connect with the sacred in your own messy life?”

And you’re reminded of how desperately you need this kind of humor -- in order to poke holes in all the damn hierarchies you’ve been so busy-as-a-bee building all around and within yourself.

“Hey, buddy,” I thought I heard a chicken-icon whispering
as I leaned over the fence and looked out across the sea. “What if you risked pissing off your whole family, too? What if the answers they gave you were also never quite enough?”

Back inside, Elaine’s studio was still full of delight and conversation and laughter. She has such energy about her. It bursts out everywhere: in her garden, in her conversation, in her art. We all need our local saints.

Elaine Savoie - Debi

I must add that Elaine also does these fantastic acrylic paintings - mostly of corvids, fruit and poultry.

Reader Comments (2)

Hi Chris and Debi,

Looking at Elaine's avian corvid-i-cons reminded me of Jimmy Buffet's line from "Boat Drinks." Bemoaning a frigid winter, hockey games, etc., he sings "...I gotta fly to St. Somewhere." Well, here's St Somewhere, St Something, St Thinkagain. Beautiful and filled with a kind of holy hilarity. We've got couple of roosters here who are crowing for canonization and would be willing to sit.

Travel well, dear friends,


September 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDavid


Here's the work Dave (above) does now, so beautifully -- and with such vitality, intelligence and wit. You can watch it emerge spadeful by spadeful, too. We'll have a "blog-roll" up on this site soon. We're only waiting for a second link so that Dave's isn't up there all alone.

Debi and I have a few absolutely fixed anchor-points in our travel itinerary. The first one written in stone was visiting Dave and the Red Rhino Orphanage Project in Kenya. We'll be there, God willing, in January.

Love you, Dave...

Chris and Debi

September 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris

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