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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.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A trip to the bins...

Last week Nils had an appointment in Portland so I opted to go along.  Since we were on the east side of town, I thought a trip to the eastside Goodwill bins would be a fun diversion.  Besides, my favorite shopping spot, the westside bins, had recently been a disappointment.

For those of you who don't know what "the bins" are, they are the end of the line.  Here are the donated things that are not good enough for a Goodwill store, the things that don't sell in their alloted time in the Goodwill store, and sometimes just an overflow of donations.  Things are tossed into "bins" (large 4x8' bins on rollers) with some weak attempt at organization.  Books will be in their own bins, shoes & clothing will be too.  Electronics are mostly separated, and the rest just gets tossed in.  So you may find a wig, a plate, a purse, a catcher's mask, a doll, a stapler, an old record and a rusty hammer, all in the same bin, along with dozens and dozens of other things.  The hunt is the fun part because you never know what you may find.

 But I digress...When we walked into the office/studio of the practitioner he was visiting, I was immediately in heaven.  Bones, skulls, feathers, wings,!  (Those were for her art, not her practice.)  While Nils had his treatment, I was told to wander and lust after things...which I did.  I was rewarded with a raccoon skull....perfect!

For my found object work, much of what I love to use is too ratty or old to even be found in a regular Goodwill store.  Most garage and estate sales will have tossed into the dumpster the things I like most, so at times, it becomes problematic to find the low-caliber, well-worn, even possibly broken things that evoke emotions in me.  But the eastside bins did not disappoint!  There was an old catcher's mask (wonderful!...and I'm thinking it might go with the raccoon skull), metal parts and pieces some of which were already rusty, a mah jong game with lots of pieces, turned wood pieces and knobs, metal knobs, some wooden boxes that will provide the habitat for future pieces and a wealth of other goodies.  Where else can you spend 2 hours shopping (actually, rummaging), enjoy the hunt, and walk away with 2 carts full of creative possibilities for around $50? A fun day indeed!

(Photo: 111, copyright by Diane Lou 2008.  14"x14". Photo by Nils Lou.)

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