Artist on building a 24-foot clay battleship

Cory Walsh

Ask Marilyn Lysohir why she built a 24-foot long battleship, and she has a clear answer.

Looking at the installation “The Dark Side of Dazzle,” several decades on, Lysohir said she’s “in awe that I actually made that.” She wonders, “how did I do that?” and “how did I even think of it?”

The “why” is more clear — she wanted to pay tribute to her father, who served in World War II, and other veterans like him.

“The important part of the piece for me is that it was representing and honoring these people,” she said.

The complete installation, which fills the largest gallery at the Missoula Art Museum with a massive ship, paintings, other sculptural works and audio recordings of interviews, has only been shown periodically since its creation. The museum reached out to Lysohir, who now lives in Moscow, Idaho, about bringing the work here.

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She undertook the project in 1985-86, when she was only in her mid-30s. It might have seemed quixotic when described in shorthand, so much so that her husband, Ross Coates, also an artist, told her that perhaps she

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