Experiencing Life and Death:

Diane Hause Brings Guests Into an Ethereal Art Experience

Although Modern Technology has made our lives exponentially easier, it has also changed our relationships to each other and the way we perceive our lives. Not often do we appreciate the here and now, because we are always looking toward the big party next weekend or waiting for everything to fall into place once we get the perfect job. But as artist Diane Hause explores in her newest exhibition, sometimes we need to revel in and enjoy the “right now”.

Diane Hause’s new exhibition “Eyeing the Cosmos While Astride the Abyss” opens on June 8th and is an interactive journey inspired by her own personal odyssey after discovering she had stage-four cancer.

Traveling out to Ivanhoe, NC may seem like a trek and while, yes, it is, it’s also an unparalleled experience. The natural beauty that exists outside of Wilmington harkened to a landscape untouched by time and naturally preserved. As an artist, Diane Hause left the chaos of Atlanta to return to the serenity of North Carolina.

Building both her home and studio in Ivanhoe, she’s found ample amounts of inspiration and, most importantly, peace.

“In 2010 I was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer that had spread to my lungs, liver, bones and spine. I was told there was no cure, but that the cancer could be ‘managed’ with a mastectomy, removal of lymph nodes, taking a daily Chemo pill and a monthly IV drip.” Hause says.

“On that day, the patterns of the floor tile in my doctor’s office were forever etched into my mind. There it was, the lifting of a proverbial veil. The night after my diagnosis, at 3 a.m., I woke up afraid – afraid of everything unknown to me, which suddenly seemed like absolutely everything. I went outside to a sky full of stars and looking upward, drifted into deep infinite space. When I went back into the house, I was shocked that two hours had passed. I had no more fear, just peace.” Hause describes.

The inspiration for this work was not immediate, and Diane was not hit with a lightening bolt from above, but it slowly and organically evolved as she dealt with the life-changing news. “My perspective shifted as I begin to view life and small mome3nts in a new way.” Hause explains.

Upon arriving at her studio, guests are invited to remove their shoes and patiently wait their turn. Flipping an hourglass, each visitor is allowed 5 minutes to be alone in the space before sand runs out and the next person joins them.

A complete sensory experience, visitors are first greeted by calming smell and the ethereal sounds of Yoko Ono, who remixed a song specifically for Hause. Without ruining the initial experience for visitors with a descriptive play-by-play of the space, I can share with you that, while it will be different for everyone, you will leave with a sense of inner peace, safety, and the feeling that you are not alone.

Mimicking Diane’s personal journey the night of her diagnosis, visitors are posed with the vastness of the universe, the image of themselves, the need to give and receive, and the desire to wish. The culmination of the entire experience is entitled “the womb room”. In a corner of the space, Hause has recreated the womb. The tent-like structure – with thick blankets, no lighting, a surprising soft and cushioned floor – is both dark, comfortable, initially intimidating but ultimately familiar.

Quietly sitting and listening to a recording of a heartbeat, guests have metaphorically returned to the womb. The sound of a mother’s heartbeat is the one basic thing that everyone shares. On this sensory journey, visitors travel from the vastness of the cosmos to the safety of the worm. Hause has created an installation that physically encapsulates the moments we experience when trying to understand something that seems unfathomable and exists beyond our control.

This work, whatever folks may believe, provides comfort and hope. Physically experiencing how Hause herself dealt with life-altering news, visitors emerge from the space with a new perspective, changed themselves.

“This is my gesture to that moment,” the artist tells. “That realized moment between fear/peace, life/death, finite/infinite. You are invited to experience my attempt at manifesting this profound transformative state into an installation. All that is required of you is to wear comfortable clothing and to bring an object, no larger than a quarter, that you can exchange on the ‘Table of Tokens’ that is waiting for you at the center of your journey.”

There will be an opening reception at Hause’s studio on Saturday, June 8th from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The exhibit will remain on display through July, and visitors are invited to make an appointment to experience it.

— Sarah Richter for
June 5, 2013

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