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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, October 1, 2009

Bears and bones...

If you have viewed much of my art, you'll notice I love bones and decaying things.  In fact, if I find a bone in the woods (or if dear friends find them for me), it makes my day because I know that, sooner or later, it will find its way into my art.

A few nights ago, we had gone into McMinnville to have dinner with friends and to hand off a copy of Nils's new book (See post below for description).  By the time we came home on our little narrow dirt road into the forest, it was quite dark.  As we rounded a corner, something large and white and something large and black were suddenly in front of us.

As often happens when we are confronted with something unexpected, it took a few seconds to realize what we were seeing.   But there it was, a huge stripped-of-meat rib cage (cow? elk?) being dragged across the road by a black bear who was barely visible in the surrounding blackness.

It was a rather surreal sight and certainly an unlikely sight, and how I wished I could have had a picture of it that actually captured it in the darkness.  I think you would have loved seeing it.

We haven't seen bear around for quite some time, although this spring when I was picking daffodils by the large pond, the tall grass was very trampled down...trampled by something heavy and broad, not something delicate like deer who usually frequent that area.  Now I suspect the bear inhabits the area because there is water and lots of room to roam unbothered through the forests.  Rather like feeling an earthquake, there is something exciting and wonderful mixed in with any fear that might arise, knowing that the bear is nearby.

No, fall isn't quite as "here" as the picture above suggests.  Last year was the most colorful fall ever, according to Nils, who has lived here 32 years...and this is just one of many of the magical photos he took last year.  


Amy Burnham said...

I love the way that you describe your feelings about the bear...the myterious, dark, magical presence of a often feared and powerful creature. Have you thought about this encounter as being a sign?? Just wondering because the imagery seems SO powerful...some tidbits I got off the internet:
The bear as power animal is intuitive and can often manifest healing. Imagine a bear hug. The all encompassing strength of a bear animal familiar is a safe and reassuring environment for restoration of both body and spirit. The bear spirit guide thus helps his shaman companion to heal mental, physical and spiritual wounds with intuition and self-assured courage.
The bear is a symbol of invincibility, offering a secure refuge for those who enjoy the company of a totem bear spirit guide. The Shaman of bear power animal has a determined ally in spiritual work, loyal and utterly dependable.
The bear is an introspective creature, independent and apparently aloof. He has with little need for fraternity, rather he is self-contained and strong-willed. A Bear spirit guide is of great support and comfort to those who crave human company simply for personal reassurance rather than for the simple pleasure of being with friends. He makes lonely periods of life far easier, and can help the Shaman to work in isolation to gain deep insights.
The bear represents female energies, hibernating to reconnect with the earth each year, and emerging with answers to spiritual dilemmas. Those with a bear spirit guide can harness this natural connection with the earth to seek insights within.

Diane Lou said...

Amy, what a fabulous response! I hadn't thought of it in that way, but when I read your comment, it felt very right. The experience was definitely out of the ordinary, and evoked a sense of mysticism each time I thought about.

I will, therefore, continue to think about that vision (because that is what it seemed like, it had such a surreal quality about it) and frame it as a healing vision with my bear spirit guide.

What a wonderful gift your insights are!