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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 13, 2009

Dark Angel

Our art comes from unexpected sources most of the time, and that is the joyous, Easter-egg-hunt (to use a seasonal analogy) kind of surprise that keeps our art fresh and unplanned.
I love that most of what I use in my art is something that has been rejected because it supposedly no longer has any value to anyone.  It is also good that I love and am inspired by these things that no one else wants, and so they are available to me...often for mere pennies.

Such was the case with the foundation of Dark Angel, pictured above.  On a trip last year to the Goodwill bins (Goodwill Outlet store...the end of the line),  I spied this very, very old tattered, falling apart sleeve pressing board.  It was starting to detach itself from the backing board, the fabric cover had evocative stains and rips, and was, in fact, useless.  I nearly gasped at my good fortune!

I would  never have thought of trying to find an old sleeve pressing board for the basis of an art work, but when I saw it, I had that gut feeling, the pit-of-the-stomach jolt, that signaled a real find.  

It was the same with the rusted and discolored metal that winds its way around the board.  Last year Nils and I had a beautiful new studio built, and during the course of construction, the builders obviously broke a metal measuring tape and quickly threw it into a pile that would later be burned.  Months later, I spied the small remains of the burned pile of debris, and again gasped when I saw the beautiful patina on the now burned and rusted remains of the measuring tape.  I am always shocked and pleased to see such amazing beauty and intrigue in such discards.

As someone recently said when they visited my studio, "There is really nothing you wouldn't use for art, is there?"  and then quickly offered to show me where a complete skeleton of a possum now lies, bones bleached and clean.  I'll be meeting with her soon, again with that gut feeling of having found a treasure that will end up in my art.
(Photo: Dark Angel, 24" tall.  Copyright by Diane Lou 2008.  Photo by Nils Lou)


Paula McNamee said...

Diane, Welcome to the blogging world and congratulations on starting your blog. It will be fun to follow your progress and artistic endeavors. Paula

purple bird art said...

Welcome to the world of bloggers!!! Glad to see your presence in the cyberworld and a chance to see your wonderful art unfold - hope all is well with you - take care, Ja

Diane Lou, said...

Thanks so much, Paula! I don't know why I waited so long.
My best...

Diane Lou, said...

Thanks so much, Jan, for taking the time to look!
My best to you. I hope all is going well. I am pretty much recovered from my challenge of the winter, and back to being high energy.

Sara said...


It was a delightful surprise to hear from you. Thank you for sharing details of your personal life and that you now have health and doing exactly what you were always meant to be doing!

Your art is awesome and I will visit your blog often.

Visit me anytime, too.

Love and Hugs,


Diane Lou, said...

Hi Sara,
It's been so much fun reconnecting with lots of those who participated in the swaps. It's been a wild and full couple years.
I hope all is well with you!

Lynn Nicole said...

Beautiful job you've done on your blog, Diane. And I am happy I will be able to view your new pieces online as they evolve!


Diane Lou, said...

Hi Lynn,
Thanks for taking the time to look and comment. I'm really enjoying the process. Check it out for the anagama listing.