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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.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Trash Bash

Recent spring rains have deluged the forest with the needed moisture to ensure Oregon's notorious green, evidenced by the photo at left.  This is a very large bowl (about 3-4' in diameter) made many, many years ago by my husband Nils.  It sits in the forest near our home, and is now beautifully decorated with the moss that has grown on it as it rests on an enormous rotting stump.  

Tuesday my show was hung in the upstairs gallery at NW Wine (326 NW Davis, McMinnville, OR.  Phone 503-435-1295 for hours).   It will be up through May and part of June, and the opening is the 20th.  The downstairs gallery will feature Luke Zimmerman's wonderful paintings.

I'm mildly surprised by how delighted I am to have all these pieces out of my studio, and to have a huge blank wall to hang new pieces on as I work on them.  Freeing up that space seemed to create a vacancy that immediately wanted to be filled with new work.  

Another thing I did yesterday was to sort and go through my collection of "stuff" that I use in my art.  Over time, I forget what I have (and the old saying, "out of sight, out of mind" certainly applies here), and sorting and reorganizing makes it seem like I have a whole new stash.  I cannot put everything into Rubbermaids, label them and put them on shelves.  Things have to be open to viewing...and if they are in Rubbermaids, the lids have to be off so I can readily see and dig.

Speaking of a trash stash, in Manzanita there is a great recycling facility called Cart'M.  Besides recycling, there is a thrift shop there, and also an area where metal items are dumped.  From that area it is possible to purchase old rusty, wonderful things for pennies...all the stuff I love to use in my art.

Anyway, Cart'M has an annual Trash Art Show, kicked off with a Trash Bash which includes food, music and the opening on Friday night (next week).  All art must be made from recycled materials, and will hang until Sunday noon.  It's going to be great fun to see all the found object art in one place.  Go to if you are interested in entering.  

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