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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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Evolution #2

At the Goodwill "bins" (the end of the line before the landfill), I once found an old wooden duck decoy. I'm not sure if it was really old or if it was simply a decorative piece that had been made to look that way. It sat around in the studio for quite some time, and I had trouble getting past its "duckness". So I used the chop saw to decapitate it. There's something about destroying an object that suddenly reveals endless creative possibilities.

The thought of a new head led me to a porcelain one I had....and well, perhaps she needed feet too, just not real about furniture casters. Hmmmm.....she seems like some weird hybridized creature, so maybe she needs an ID # on her side and a nest to hold the eggs of her even weirder offspring. And so it goes... Usually there is a moment that opens the door to endless possibilities, and the getting rid of the head (which ended up on another piece) was that moment.

Keith LoBue (see his blog in my favorites list) always speaks about getting past the "preciousness" of your "stuff". You like it so much you cannot imagine destroying it or changing it...or sometimes, even using it! Sometimes I'll take a hammer to something just to get past what it is and to reveal the interesting shapes and pieces that comprise it. I've even started using some original photos because I think it is better that they are "out there" in the art, rather than being stored in a forgotten box or photo album.

Pull out your stash of stuff and start using it!
(Photo, Evolution#2, copyright 2008 by Diane Lou. Photo by Nils Lou.)

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