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Tim and Temma Lowly


2011, Charcoal, glass, clay, papers, Bible pages, wire, twigs and collage on Schoellershammer board, 40” x 30” x 3


Chicago artist Tim Lowly is well known for work depicting his daughter, Temma, who is profoundly disabled. Temma suffered a cardiac arrest just after birth; as a result, she is blind, paralyzed and non-verbal. Much of Tim's work has been an exploration of what it's like to be her.


My portraiture practice is based on informed consent. I was unable to ask Temma for her consent due to her impairment, so I chose instead to depict the father-and-daughter relationship. The owl costume on Tim's lap is an avatar for Temma. Owl wisdom is complex, its messages cryptic and obscure. The Owl asks Who? Demanding that the seeker explain himself.


Tim’s conviction is that one does not need to earn love to be loved. A human does not need to be perfect, or prove their worth; they are deserving of love by simply being. The Owl offers Tim a fragmented mask and fragile wings, in order to fully immerse himself in Temma's endless moment.


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