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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 11, 2009

Dumpster diving

July continues to be a month of construction dust and noise, and so I find myself leaning more and more towards getting back in the studio, which, in turn, leads to the urge to find new goodies. Yesterday a garage sale yielded lots of lovely cigar boxes, some wood, some paper-covered wood, which will be fun to use myself or in my classes in September and October. But my favorite find there was a big bag of old croquet balls....yum!

Besides teaching 3 workshops at Art and Soul this fall (2 sessions of Transfers and Transparencies and one of Dumpster Diving Assemblage, I'll be teaching at my favorite-ever retreat center, Menucha, in the Columbia River gorge. That workshop will be with a group of high school art students which was organized by their wonderful teacher, Amy, who often brings her students out for our anagama kiln firings. I can't wait. Fall at Menucha is such a treat in its own right, but being able to teach there and be with young people...well, perfect.

Since being with Nils, I've spent more and more time around college and high school aged students (because of his college teaching and because of high schoolers coming out for the firings), and I must say, the ones I've come in contact with are so much fun! They are lively, friendly, hard-working, creative, eager to learn, helpful and courteous. Great kids all...

Banana bread is in the oven on this overcast, high 60's day, the hummers are feeding, and soon I'll start cleaning the garage (because of a too-long-to-tell and too-hard-to-explain reason related to the upgrades on the house). It will be lovely when all this work is done and everything put back where it is supposed to be.

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