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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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Finding a piece of rusted-out metal roofing was the beginning of this piece. Its irregular shape and aged patina called out to me, but, as always, I had no idea what I would do with it or where it would go.

A year or so ago I had acquired some metal boxes which resembled treasure chests that were made of metal and finished to somewhat resemble aged copper. I took the lid off one, put a hanger on the back, set the rusty metal roofing inside and looked at it for a good long while. Because I so like having the viewer have to peer through layers, soon a weathered piece of wooden garden bed edging was placed in front. Next an antique document was glued in the back, and, spaced out from the back, some blue-copper colored printed paper was mounted on mat board and put in. If you look carefully, you can also see a woman's face looking back at you through the the opening in the metal. There is more to see in this, which you cannot see in such a small antique bottle with a woman inside and the word "speak".

The ball on top was a plastic toy ball which I covered with printed tissue paper and mounted using part of a lamp. The distressed copper-colored metal strips (across the wood and at the bottom) I "appropriated" from some old things my husband had. Great color and lots of wonderful aging, rust, scratches...all make it interesting.

This is one of my husband's favorites and once my show comes down at the end of June, it will go back up in the entryway of our home.

(Speak, copyright 2009 by Diane Lou. 20"x11". Photo by Nils Lou)

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