A Story Place is an enchanting ceramic installation featuring thirty life-size animals and insects sitting intently in a forest, listening to a child reading a story—a story that is curiously about them.  A Story Place is a visual feast that speaks volumes about the simple but very complex idea of "relationship." Creating a sense of "story" within "visual relationships" is what inspires clay artist Nancy Thorne Chambers. Each sculpture is hand-built, fired, glazed, fired again then painted with layers of color to enhance depth to hair and fur. Every gesture, expression, clothing color and finish is carefully chosen both artistically and with relationship to their group setting. Nancy is a former family therapist from Olympia.



Story Contest! 

This ceramic installation by Nancy Thorne Chambers titled A Story Place has many stories that have not yet been written – that was your job! All stories were read – and one story was  selected as the grand prize winner.

The Grand Prize Winner received an original ceramic rabbit made by Nancy Thorne Chambers. 

The winners:

Isabel McDermott - Grand Prize winner

Question 3: What happens with A Story Place creatures once the little girl finishes reading the story?

There is a certain cottage in the woods, quite a distance from any town or place you’ve ever heard of. Not even your father’s tales of hunting or mother’s storybooks could precisely find the location of this dwelling; like a young kitten squirming out of one’s grasp. Not even the two people residing in the cottage could describe the area of their home. Annaleise Storie and her grandmother Agatha were those two such people. Annaleise was turning twelve, now venturing her way through learning to bake fluffy scones without scorching them, embroidering perfect lines of stitches, taut in a row like her garden in a row, among other tasks all girls should know at that age. Between her time milking the cows and steam-ironing clothes, Annaleise loved books: plump, lanky, musty or new ones with gold embossed covers. Often she sat on a tree stump in a clearing of the woods reading under the robin-egg sky, clustered with bulbous, creamy clouds like a flock of sheep. ON this day, while reading in the clearing and admiring its lush emerald foliage, she noticed a little goldfinch perching beside her and chirping gaily. “Hello, little bird,” Annaleise said softly. “Would you care to hear a story?” The creature crooned in response, so Annaleise proceeded to humor the bird with her book. This chapter told of a mole who refused to come outside of his hole underground, and it was very entertaining. This chapter concluded in triumph, announcing the mole had felt the breeze and seen the sky for the first time. Annaleise peered at the bird and shut her book, yet the story would not close. How odd, Annaleise thought. There must be a stick or something of that sort stopping it. She attempted once more to close it, and once again it stubbornly remained open. Begrudgingly, she pried the book open, only to gasp and blink. A small mole stumbled out of the story, grumbling to himself. “This sun is too bright, he grouched, shielding himself from the sun with a cobalt blanket he had brought along. “A-a-are you real?” Annaleise stuttered. “Where did you come from?”

“Well, of course I’m real,” snapped the mole, poking himself in the tummy with a nearby stick to prove it. “And as for your second question, I suppose I came from that book of yours, didn’t I? Annaleise blinked, deciding to continue reading despite the odd occurrence. The mole curled on a mound of earth to listen. Annaleise told of a group of animals having tea: a pair of mice, one in a pink dress, with a bespectacled beaver and lumbering bear. As she finished Annaleise now expected animals to pop out, which they did: the mice, scurrying out, beaver, propping his gold-rimmed glasses on his snout, and bear, waving in a jolly manner to the mole. “I’m Mr. Brown,” said the bear, “and this is Beaver, and Mr. and Mrs. Whiskertail.” At the sound of their names, the husband bowed, while wife rustled her gown. Once the creatures had settled in, Annaleise proceeded to read her story, and a rapid succession of animals emerged: pink, bristly pig in a tailcoat and trousers, dapper toad, gripping a walking stick, raccoon in a purple sundress, turtle in a top hat, pair of ducks chattering, sweet fawn, badger, chipmunk and others. Annaleise realized that every time she finished a story, a different character from it would come to life. Just as Annaleise was about to finish the book, one last animal snuck out: a fox. “I see you have finished the story.” Annaleise nodded. The fox continued, “Just remember that us animals will always be here for you.” Annaleise was touched, and a sense of wonder and excitement was building. She knew now that when she tried to close the book it would close this time. What she did not count on was that all the animals would dissipate into the book once she closed it, which they did, the mole still grumbling. As Annaleise shut the book once and for all and fingered the cover, she froze. The title of the storybook had changed. The gold title read. “Story Place.” Annaleise Storie smiled.

The End




Susan Fritts - First Place, Question 1

Question 1: If you could be one of the creatures in A Story Place which one would you be, and what would you tell all of the others?

"Rabbit’s Thoughts"

As I sit here on a cedar log deep in the forest with my friends, I feel a sense of bonding; glad to be a part of such a diverse group of animals. There is a peacefulness, a respect for each other and certainly a sense of enjoyment of being read to by the amazing Girl…a story about us, for us. A story to let the world know how our friendship has evolved.

You see, friendship doesn’t just happen. Over decades and generations, we’ve had to overcome feelings of fear, greed, territorial domain, disrespect, inadequacies; not a healthy environment.

However, the power of friends can create a fulfilling, positive environment. Bear taught us how to be courageous leaders. Mr. and Mrs. Duck showed us the power of love and Pig modeled how to listen to each other. Fox showed us patience and Fawn displayed kindness. Beetle taught us that even the smallest of animals experiences power. Raccoon taught us that a sense of humor is necessary.

Our story embraces all animals, showing how we work together to create a bright future.



Emily Hung - First Place, Question 2

Question 2: Which creatures in A Story Place are best friends and why? How do these friends spend their time together?

I believe all the animals are friends. Because they are in a story, anything is possible. Stories use imagination and believing, and with this anything is possible. I believe the toad and dragonfly would be best friends. They would play leapfrog. The spider and beetled would race around the track, the turtle and skunk would draw pictures, the rabbit and fox would play tag, the owl and ladymouse would play hide’n’seek. The bear and fawn would have tea, mamma duck and raccoon would try and fly to the moon, mole and yellow bird would find worms to snack on, sharing the find with the other birds. Basically, the most unlikely friends would be paired together.

They all became inspired by the girl’s story and found they all had something in common, like the woodpecker and beaver both like oak wood, the lizard and chipmunk love the story called, “Little Miss Muffett.” The pig and butterfly love canoes, and Mr. Mouse and Mr. Robin were fascinated by the Sand Art by the Tibetan Buddhist Monks at the art museum.



Abby Huck - First Place, Question 3

Question 3: What happens with A Story Place creatures once the little girl finishes reading the story?

Once upon a time in a story place when the girl was done reading her story the mama duck and rabbit went out to play. They were best friends. The mama duck fell into a hole and the rabbit saved her and they were best friends ever since. The mama duck and rabbit decided to climb a mountain. So they climbed and climbed and climbed until they saw a bear. The bear asked if he could climb the mountain with them. The rabbit and duck said yes. So they climbed and climbed and climbed until they got to the top of the mountain. But then the rabbit slipped and fell and fell off the side of the mountain. But the bear and mama duck could not catch him. Just then a raccoon heard the rabbit calling for help. So the raccoon jumped up and caught the rabbit. Then the rabbit, raccoon, bear and mama duck all climbed down the mountain and all became best friends. When they got to the bottom of the mountain they had a party with cake and ice cream and sandwiches and juice. And they lived happily ever after.

The End.



Kim Burreson - First Place, Question 4

Question 4: Which creature in the universe is missing from A Story Place? Who would you add to the story and why?

Wolf is missing from Story Place. I think that all the creatures in the art seem to represent the tame and peaceful animals of the forest. I would like to see wolf, the traditional enemy of the pigs to be included. This would show children acceptance of all kinds and represent a world of kindness and peace.


Listen: Executive Director & Curator Greg Robinson discusses the Spring 2016 exhibitions.

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