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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, October 3, 2009


Several years ago when I lived in my little beach cottage on the Oregon coast (B.N.---before Nils came into my life), I was taking my almost daily beach walk when,  as I looked down the coastline, I saw something large on the beach.  As I got closer, I realized it was this magnificent sandcastle.  No one was around putting the finishing touches on...and no one was standing around admiring it, as I soon would be.  It was over 6' tall and enchanting in detail.  
The waves were beginning to erode the lower levels when I first saw it, and a sense of immediacy came over me.  I had to get a photo of this...but,  of course, my camera was safely at home several blocks away, and I had walked to the beach, not driven.  With adrenaline flowing, I walked as fast as I could back up the beach and the several blocks home, grabbed my camera and drove back to the beach access.  All that time, I feared a little boy like my grandson would take a big stick and feel compelled to smash the castle, or that the incoming waves would have caused it to dissolve back into granules of sand.
But when I returned all was still intact, the castle was being ignored by all but me, and I was able to shoot the many shots I wanted of this fabulous creation.  Later it would end up in several pieces of my collage La Mer.
(Photos and art by Diane Lou.)

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