Massive Painting Inspired by Tsunami

At a whopping eight feet high and 16 feet across, area artist Diane Hause’s “Quest for The Echo’s Source” occupies nearly the entire back wall of public radio station WHQR’s MC Erny Gallery, located on the third floor of the Warwick Building, 254 N. Front St. in downtown Wilmington.

The painting demands attention with its sheer size, and yet its 10 wooden panels that have been painted on, embossed, inked and pressed to make woodcut prints and lined up into one cohesive image highlight the inner connections of “Interconnections,” an exhibition of mixed- media paintings and prints by Hause and Wilmington artist Shannon Bourne.

In coordination with Fourth Friday Gallery Nights, a self-guided art crawl through downtown Wilmington’s galleries and art spaces, “Interconnections” receives a final public reception 6-9 p.m. Friday.

“Quest for The Echo’s Source” was created in 2005 in response to the tsunami that swept the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26, 2004. Hause was living in Atlanta at the time. She went out and bought 10 wood panels with the intention of painting on a large scale.

“I saw the news that night,” Hause said, “and I saw this couple that found a little boy’s body. That image was so strong – her face was pressed to his – so I went downstairs and I sketched it out, really quickly, in the center.”

From there, like a musician sampling from older recordings, Hause began organically collaging in various cultural icons and symbols. The painting became a reinterpretation of the 19th century Japanese printmaker Katsushika Hokusai’s famous “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” In Hause’s version, a boy is being swallowed by the great wave. The anguished face of a woman appears on the crest of another wave. The woman’s head is attached to a wooden canoe. An unvarnished canoe Hause acquired along the Black River in Ivanhoe – where she now resides – inspired the image.

“For the longest time I didn’t know why the canoe should show up,” Hause said. “And then I realized, ‘OK, it’s a vessel, an empty vessel: the womb.’ She gave birth to the child, and the last image is her body becoming a vessel carrying the little boy’s soul out.”

An angelic lamb crowned with a golden halo represents the boy’s soul. Hause’s painting is a dreamlike allegory that makes use of various symbols: planets, plants, animals and red Chinese stamps. Hause regards the cherry blossom as a symbol for rebirth. She engraved the flowering tree into the wooden panel and used the impression to press limited-edition woodcut prints right off the painting. Those prints, as well as other linoleum-plate prints based off of “Quest for the Echo’s Source,” are on display at WHQR.

Hause’s prints pair well with Bourne’s diptych, black-and-white etchings of marine life and textured collagraphs of abstract beachscapes, making “Interconnections” a cohesive, well-connected show. The exhibition hangs at the MC Erny Gallery through Feb. 7.

— Justin Lacy for
Published January 22, 2014

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