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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 20, 2009


Much is lost in trying to show Sacrifice in such a small format.  It is hard to see the dessicated dried frog at the bottom, the rusty nails in one compartment, or the evocative face just above the shoe form wings, but it one of my favorite pieces. 

It began with the base of a case that held old optometrist's lenses, thus the compartments with the white labels that list the various strengths of the lenses. Things saved long ago as well as recently found equal space in this piece as in most of my work.

There is a slightly religious sense to the piece although that was certainly not my intent when it began.  It just ended up that way and surprised me, as I would probably never intentionally do anything with a religious slant to it.

As this process of doing found-object art continues to unfold for me, I do find references to life (my life), childhood, distress, family, upbringing and maturing entering unbidden into the work.  Each viewer takes these bits and pieces I have put together and interprets them in a unique way based on his or her own experience.  If it seems mysterious to you, then I have succeeded in creating the art I want.
(Photo:  Sacrifice (10"x24" box area, with hanging pendant and tag at bottom 32" high) Copyright 2008 by Diane Lou.  Photo by Nils Lou) 

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