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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.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Secret

I have always loved shrines and reliquaries, and actually just love the words themselves.  They evoke something mystical, secretive and enticing...and they invite search and discovery.

In November and December, the Corvallis Art Center will have a show called Shrines and Reliquaries which I am happy to be a part of with this piece.  The box that became the reliquary was found on a good day at Goodwill.  This old black box with metal corner protectors and a replaced handle nearly flew off the shelves into my hands a few days after I found out about the show.  I knew immediately that this was the beginning of my piece.

It sat on my worktable for a week or two, open and in an upright position while I waited for inspiration.  The first thing that came to me was to divide the right hand side, so I cut a piece of foamcore and made a shelf.  The second thing was to use some frayed canvas with a transfer of old text on it as a background for the left side.  (Sorry, the detail is pretty limited in this photo).

From that point I started playing with the left side, using an old tintype, a small black box, some buttons, and other things.  The lower right meanwhile began filling with an assortment of torn letters/secrets, which were then rolled up, tied and glued into place (a source of huge frustration to many).  I like having the viewer so want to pull them out and open them up and read them.  It evokes an emotion similar to peeking into someone else's private things. Sort of scary and anxiety-producing, but very alluring too.

The top right filled with a favorite family photo of mine of my great grandparents, their homestead on the plains of Kansas, and a few of their 16 children.  The sense of desolation
in the photo (and the empathy I feel for my great-grandmother) have always been very powerful to me, and I have used the photo in several art pieces.  A bottle dangling in the center of the roof-like space holds another "secret" written in Braille. 

Another glorious fall day here.  I'm off to walk to the garden to see if it frosted there.  It was 34 this a.m. at the house.  Enjoy the day!

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