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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


The past few days have been heavenly as we have finally gotten a hint of what summer will be like.  Sun, highs around 70, ahhh...  After a long hard winter (that story another day), I am ecstatic to have good weather, feel good and energetic and see the seeds coming up in the garden.

The anagama firing ended on Saturday afternoon after one of the smoothest firings ever.  Two high schools and two colleges were invited to this firing, and the students turned out in impressive numbers to stoke the kilns, split the wood, eat and socialize.  We had over 67 different people here during the cycle of firing, and many of those came 2 or 3 different times.  Young energetic guys and gals split firewood and hauled it to the kilns in a seemingly endless chain, and stayed up to stoke in the wee hours in the night.  Lots of clean up and fix up work also got done, a bonus.

Saturday at 10 a.m. the kilns will be opened and the still warm pots will be pulled out one by one, the heavy kiln shelves will be handed out and stacked, and the whole yard will fill with the bounty that resulted from many peoples' energy and creativity.  

Off to the new garden Nils and I created this year.  The sun-warmed earth is perfect for germination, and new seedlings appear every few hours.  The maple leaves are just unfolding their little wrinkled selves, but a few more days will have them fully unfurled.  The dogwood is fully budded and promises its usual spectacular but fleeting display. New plants have found homes where the difficult winter took its toll, flowering trees continue their sequential bloom, and we continue to clean up the debris left in the forest by a record-breaking two feet of snow that hung on the trees for 10 days this winter before starting to melt (or before the branches broke under the weight).   The cycle of life.  I love spring!

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