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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, December 31, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

Here we are, already at the end of 2009, a year, which for many of my friends, brought huge challenges in terms of their health, their jobs, their security.  Besides all that, many of us spent a year distressed by the complex issues our country has been involved in abroad.

On that note, may I recommend a must-read, "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.  Although the title might not reveal much to you until you read it,  I consider it the most feel-good, amazing and inspiring book I have ever read...and it is a true story.  (And there is also a young readers' version, as well as a read-aloud version for smaller children.)

Many of you have probably already read it since it has been on the NY Times bestseller list for 3 years (and now the sequel, "Stones into Schools", is out).  It is the true story of Greg Mortenson, mountain climber turned humanitarian extraordinaire.  When he failed an attempt to climb K-2 which was intended to memorialize his sister who had died at 23, and he unexpectedly ended up lost in a remote Pakistan village, the course of his future was changed.  After the villagers took in the dirty lost American and fed him from their meager resources, he vowed to do something for them.  What they wanted most was a school, and the rest is history since many of the remote villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan wanted a school too.  He has risked his life repeatedly to fulfill these dreams, and the story reads like an action-packed novel as he built one school, then dozens of schools, and now well over 100 (with the emphasis on schooling females who have traditionally not been educated in these cultures).  And this is a man without resources of his own.

Read this book, and be inspired.  Read this book and understand the complexities of the Pakistan and Afghan cultures.  Rejoice in the fact that the US military consults with Greg Mortenson and that Three Cups of Tea is required reading for many military personnel who go into this region. 

After reading this book, I was so humbled that I vowed to find my own ways to help by donating a bit to the school-building (which is really the only way to fight radicalism in a country with nearly 90% illiteracy rate), and by finding my own service here at home.  Despite our interconnectedness through email, Facebook, etc, we need to remember that we are beings who learn from each other and help one another by being face to face, remembering the humanity of each other.  As Plato said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

On that note, I'm off to the studio which is now clean and organized.  Dear husband Nils cleaned the tool bench and pottery area after I got my uncontrolled section somewhat corralled.  A very good way to start the new year.  

My best to all of you. New art photos coming soon. Have a new year filled with peace, love, good health, and lots of art.

(Photo: Collage by Diane Lou, "Societe Anonyme".  Prints available.)


Angela Rae said...

I am thrilled to have found your blog!!! I took a Transfers & Transparencies Class from you in Portland 2007. I have a couple of questions for you... 1st do you exclusively use Golden Gel Medium for transferring? I'm having problems with my gel medium. 2nd what kind of printer/scanner did you bring with you to the class? And 3rd, what type of transparency do you use? I'm just having a heck of a time getting my transfers to work! Thanks for any and all help!!!

Diane Lou said...

Hi Angela,
I'm so sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. We've had a loved one with cancer, and that has taken precedence over everything else.

I do use the Golden, but have used others. Some work some don't. A bigger issue seems to be the type of printer or the type of transparency film. I use an Epson printer but don't recommend the ones with the Claria inks. Durabrite is the kind you want. I use Apollo (not quick dry!) transparency....or there is another one available on Amazon called Sparco I think. Relatively inexpensive and it works fine.

Some of the newer printers are making inks that are not as good for transfers! (What are they thinking?!)

What kind of printer do you have? Don't use 3M transparencies...they are the worst. I used them once and couldn't figure out why I couldn't get transfers to work, then read on the Inkjet Transfers Yahoo! group that they are just not good for this.
Usually the cheaper film the better.

Let me know if any of this helps. Good to hear from you!