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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.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brittany's wedding

This evening we'll be attending the wedding of a lovely young couple, Brittany and Ben. We joke that Nils has known Brittany from womb to wedding because Britt's parents, Cindy and Don, have been Nils's friends since before Britt was born. Consequently, Britt started coming to the anagama firings as an infant (if you don't count being here while in the womb) and has continued to come all these years. As a young girl, she was already directing firings, telling experienced potters when to put in wood. It was obviously built into her DNA coming from potter parents.

When she was a pre-teen, she wrote an article that was published in Ceramics Monthly magazine about the anagama firings and what it was like growing up around that. She rated the most important things in her life as God, family and Nils. Nils has been like an honorary grandfather to her.

Britt lights up whatever space on earth she enters with her radiant smile, sparkling eyes, ready laugh and sense of humor. She is loving and good, and Ben couldn't be a more fortunate man. I've only known Brittany a couple years (since meeting Nils) but I love her, no doubt about it. Oops, I can tell I'm going to need to bring tissues this evening.

(Anagama firing photo courtesy of Cindy H.)

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