© 2023 by Emma Dei.

Mirror Shards: Tim / Owl


2011 Charcoal, glass, papers, Bible pages,

wire, twigs and collage on board


Chicago artist Tim Lowly is well known for work depicting his daughter, Temma, who is profoundly disabled. Temma had a stroke just after birth that caused her to become blind, paralyzed and non-verbal. Much of Tim's work has been an exploration of what it's like to be Temma.

The owl costume on Tim's lap is an avatar for Temma. The Owl, in metaphoric representation, is primarily a symbol of wisdom. Owl wisdom is complex, though, and not easily accessed. The Owl's messages are cryptic and obscured. It is twined with mystery and guardianship. In order to unlock its wisdom the seeker must ask his questions with wisdom. Often the ability to interpret only comes through a quest. The word the Owl speaks is Who?, asking the seeker to explain himself, or to name the one he seeks to know.

The wisdom Tim has gained through being Temma's father is his conviction that one does not need to earn love to be loved. A human does not need to be perfect, or prove anything. A human is deserving of love by simply being. Tim cannot have a verbal relationship with Temma. His understanding of her has come from the openness of his heart and the observation of his mind.

The Owl offers Tim a fragmented mask and fragile wings, in order to fully immerse himself in Temma's endless moment.

Tim Lowly can be found at http://timlowly.com