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The Muse's Storage Box

The Muse's Storage Box
Copyright Diane Lou.

Alchemical Dreams and Disparate Realities

Rust and bones, broken toys and old text, game boards, gears and nests. Even as a child such odd, unwanted items evoked a pit-of-the-stomach response that bordered on exhilaration.
While I make no attempt to conjure up specific feelings in the viewer, the ambiguous juxtapositioning of familiar materials creates art that evokes half-forgotten, dream-like visions that beg to be interpreted by the viewer. There is a sense of deja vu (the already seen) tempered by a sense of jamais vu ( the never seen, or the illusion that the familiar does not seem familiar), and this contradiction asks the viewer to dig deeply, to look inside her own repository of wisdom, intuition and experience to find her own meaning in the familiar objects she sees.
The once-private discards of people's material lives that I collect for my art seem to carry universal memories with them, memories that can engage and mystify the viewer. Their beauty lies within the rust, the erosion, the wear, and the mere fact that they were once possessions.
I play with abandon and with no forethought. Each piece of detritus seems to suggest to me a relationship with some other piece, and I begin to put them together and wait for the mental "buzz" that lets me know I am proceeding as I should. Even at this point, I continue to remain in the play state and will not allow myself to direct the outcome of the piece, a process that requires complete trust. The outcome often mystifies me as much as it might any viewer.
Remember when, as a child, whatever was in reach became the instrument of your creative exploration? That is my life. A rusty, flattened piece of metal on the street, a gnawed bone by the roadside, a unique twisted branch from a tree, a fallen nest, a broken egg, a snake's skin, a dead butterfly...all will be added to my collection and eventually have their beauty honored in one of my pieces. The resulting art creates a new story with its own imagined history, one that invites the viewers to lay some claim on it by allowing themselves to be enveloped by the sight, the history, and the ambiguity of the realities before them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Anagama opening

An overcast sky and slightly chilly temperatures greeted the potters as they arrived Saturday to await the opening of the anagama firing, a firing which ended a week before.   The door which hid the treasures inside was unbricked, and I couldn't help but being reminded of archeologists  opening an ancient tomb.   Everyone bent down to get a peek at the pieces in front and to snap pictures of the event.

The ashes were swept out, and after 6 cords of wood being burned, one would think there would be lots and lots of ashes.  But, because of the extreme temperatures and because much of the ash ends up being swept through the kiln with the flames, it melts and forms glazes on the pots instead of collecting in the firebox.

Those who have been a part of this potter family for years all agreed.  It was probably the best firing ever.  Yes, there were a few "kisses" (where pots fall against each other and stick as the glaze melts) and a few things that cracked, but out of the probably 600 or more pots that the two kilns held, nearly all turned out well and many turned out spectacularly.  It was a happy outcome for everyone.

Several years ago, there was a not-so-happy opening.  Sometime during the course of the firing, a shelf within the kiln collapsed and tumbled into more shelves and pots that collapsed and fell forward.  At the end of the firing, a look inside the 2400 degree glow told those who had tended the firing that all was not well.  Cindy said the next few hours were like attending a wake.

Even though they knew there was a collapse inside, there was nothing they could do until a week later when the kiln had cooled.  Despite the damage and destruction,  there were also treasures within.  One of Nils's pots had been among those that tumbled into the firebox, and it came out looking ancient and crusty and magnificent, as if it had been unearthed after being buried for centuries.  Others also had unlikely surprises.

I'll post pictures in few minutes.  Thanks for following the story!

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