For current posts, scroll down past artist's statement.

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, May 11, 2009


Last summer we enjoyed watching a doe, her yearling buck son and her new fawn  living in the forest.  They would often lie down to rest near the goldfish pond, and I'd be startled on my way to feed the fish as my eyes suddenly picked them out of the woodsy camouflage.  As fall came, I thought it unusual that a mother would let her yearling buck remain in the family, but she did.

Hunting season came and during doe season we saw the remains of a fresh carcass dumped on our property, and the same day saw a fawn running frantically back and forth in the area.  I couldn't imagine how the fawn could survive the winter alone being so young.

Although I have no idea what did happen to the fawn or if it was "our" doe who was killed, I made this piece of weathered bones at the time and I'm sure I was influenced by the sadness I felt about the incident.

The bones came from friend Deb's son, who collected them from their woods.  They are nestled into forest leaves and lichens inside the old nativity-scene box.  Each bone has a stamped number attached, like a forensics or biology person might use to identify each one.  Melted candles, a brass bell and an curly bit of decorative iron on the front, reminiscent of a cemetery entry gate, finish the piece.  The silver trim is from a disassembled Mexican piece.

(Photo: Requiem, copyright 2008 by Diane Lou.  18x11x7".  Photo by Nils Lou)


Deb Stone said...

Jon will be happy to see the bones found a place in your art. That is a lovely tribute to your deer family.

Diane Lou said...

Extra special thanks to Jon, Deb. The bones inspired me.