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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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The path to the studio

When Nils and I met in January 2007, the only studio on the property was a very large damp and dark one which didn't inspire creativity except on the best of summer days when the doors could be open and the sunlight would filter in through the skylights. By mid-summer we had decided we needed a warm, light studio for both of us...and that we wanted to get married.

We staked out the size of the building (a little over 1000 sq ft), called an excavator and had the ground leveled three days before the wedding (September 2007). It made a perfect parking lot just down the hill from the house. A few guests commented, "My, you went to a lot of trouble and expense to create a parking lot!"...but of course, 3 days later the foundation crew had arrived and work began in earnest. By early Feb 2008, the studio was finished and we had moved in.

It's been a heavenly space for us to share. An area for the potter's wheel, Nils's painting and drawing area, my mixed media area, a tool area, a sink, and a space for the kiln just outside the door...and now a garden just outside the other door. The interior is all white with high walls perfect for hanging up lots of finished art. It is all heated with radiant-floor heating which makes it cozy any time of year.

We had young potter friends Jim and Matt put in steps down the hill through the woods so we could easily walk to the studio. Creative spirits that they both are, they took it a step further and crafted a small footbridge over a depression in the walkway, and created a dry streambed under it. A small shrine made from an old rotten log and a stacked rock sculpture, both of which make the path even more special, were additional gifts from Jim. A couple of Nils's sculptures also enhance the walkway.

Their creativity inspired us to rummage through our stash of driftwood, select 8 or 10 pieces, and, armed with an electric drill and some very long screws, create the railing you see pictured.

The path is the perfect transition zone from the "real" world to the zone of creativity in the studio, and every time I walk down or up, I think of Jim and Matt and how creative people can always take a rather ho-hum project to a level of inspiration and beauty.


Teri said...

Your entire property is enchanting.

Diane Lou said...

Thank you, Teri...and we do revel in its beauty on a daily basis and feel very blessed to live where we do.

I finally found your Teri's in the kitchen blog (thanks to a recipe on FB). Wow, what wonderful recipes. We are eager to try some of them out.

So far, it's been a great spring (unusually good weather) and we've enjoyed the outdoors, golfing, gardening (with the accompanying weeding, watering, pruniing).

I'm feeling good with lots of energy so that makes every day a gift.