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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.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Family history

This is an appropriate piece to show today because my brother Don and his wife Shirley are visiting us in Oregon for the first time in 16 years. They live in Kansas, where we grew up.

Tomorrow they'll watch the anagama kiln being opened, and the hundreds of pots emerge from the fire.  There is real sense of anticipation this time, perhaps more than other times, as the firing had an almost magical momentum to it. It flowed smoothly, almost without direction, and it reached temperature easily and relatively quickly.  We'll all be watching eagerly to see how our creations fared in the fire.

Family History (right) is a piece that was created from an old dovetailed wooden box.  The tiny torn and ragged shoe and the egg with cracks on it were the first to let me know they should be together.  They soon rested on a small box with a transparency map on top.

As the piece needed to see, the antique optometrists' testing lenses, which I had been hanging onto for years waiting for the perfect time and place, finally were called into use.  A detailed, finely crafted picture of eyes from an old engraving was enlarged, then printed on tissue paper to give a slightly transparent look, and that paper was glued on the back of the lenses, giving a sense of the watcher being watched by the piece, and perhaps by their own family history.

The piece was completed with a vintage document in the background (and yes, it was added after almost everything else was in place), and a very large brass stencil #8, as well as a red wrench (It seems a bit of red finds it way into nearly every piece I make), a vintage decorative handle on the bottom, and an old piece of leather harness on the top.

It is a piece that has held wide appeal to almost everyone who views it, even though the interpretations are often very different.  It is also a personal favorite of mine.

Garden update: the tiny carrot seedlings are now joining the peas, radishes, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and green onions that are already up and growing.  It's a beautiful thing, seeing our garden come into being as the earth springs back to life with the longer, warmer days.

(Photo: Family History, copyright 2008 by Diane Lou.  8x6x4".  Photo by Nils Lou)

3 comments:

Deb Stone said...

oh, this is sad and beautiful at the same time...

Diane Lou, said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane Lou, said...

That is very much my own response to it too, Deb. I always enjoy hearing your input. Thank you!