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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.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer flying....

A heat wave has hit us...90's in the valley, slightly cooler here at our higher, tree-covered elevation. But we are off to the golf course (are we insane?). I have a lesson at 2 on the wide-open driving range, then we'll play. Makes me hot to think of it, but I do like to play....

I must apologize for being so lax in posting these last few weeks. It seems the sweetness of summer, having Nils off from teaching, lovely weather, and just feeling good have allowed me to pull back a bit and just relax into relative laziness. Watering the garden and landscaping, stepping around the guys doing work on the house, harvesting produce, starting to putter in the studio again.

I had been longing for new "stuff" for my art, even though I have a lot by most anyone's standards. Last Saturday I trekked from garage sale to garage sale, looking quickly over tables of glassware, kids' toys, things bought from TV ads still in their boxes, in search of treasure. And treasure I did find. A box of rusted steel traps, a box of chandelier crystals, lots of chains from jewelry, a wooden box with a glass door, a box full of wooden furniture legs and more. None seem especially spectacular on their own, but combined with things I already have, they hold promise.

As so often happens after a dry spell of artistic inactivity, I start feeling something akin to anxiety and know that soon I'll be creating again. There's a stirring in my gut that I've learned to recognize. Then, most likely, I'll create lots of pieces in a short period of time....then be done again. I'm ready for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the hunt for new treasures to add to my art as well. I just returned from the Focus on Book Arts Conference, where you and I first met a few years ago, and enjoyed shopping at the vendor fair there. There were some wonderful classes too, and I came home ready to go, including starting my own blog just yesterday! Check it out, and we can compare notes, at

Take care and enjoy the summer warmth. It is cool and foggy here on my piece of the California coast.
Jackie Gardener