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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.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Buddha Getting Out of Dodge

This is a new piece that kept me puzzled for quite a while, but which I ended up really liking for its whimsy but also its which only revealed itself to me at the very end, as so often happens.

A couple key components, the wheeled undercarriage and the empty old box camera both came from a scavenging trip to the Goodwill "bins" (the end of the line where they throw everything that is either unfit to sell or did not sell in the regular Goodwills).  My "rusty" Buddha actually came from there also in the form of a whole string of Buddha lights, like Xmas lights.  He was actually a transparent turquoise-colored plastic originally, but I used a rusting patina finish to create the look you see here.  After gluing the camera to the undercarriage and gluing Buddha inside, the piece sat for quite some time (partly due to surgery, partly due to being unsure where the piece was going).  

After reading about hummingbird nests, I made my own just for fun (from lichens and forest detritus, glued together with spiderwebs)...and this too sat around for a while since I had no intent of putting it in this piece.  I tried other top pieces...knobs, gears, etc...and finally tried the nest with the egg inside and loved it. (Hint: For gluing weird things like this nest to the metal clock gear below it, I used a glob of Golden Matte Gel Medium.)

Shuffling through my work area, I came across a page from an old typing book (back before the days of "keyboarding" for you younger readers) and part of the exercise said "get out" (and now you see where this is going). I tore out the words "get out", rolled up the paper and tied a red thread around it.  You'll see this glued in front of Buddha.

This is the piece viewed from the back where you see a transparency of rather morose-looking young boys holding flags, a small bird perched on top, and a hornet's nest resting on the back of the carriage.  (Another hint: To preserve very fragile things like this hornet's nest, I again used Golden Matte gel medium but this time diluted down to the point that it was quite watery.  I then painted it over the hornet's nest and let dry.  It is now quite sturdy but still somewhat flexible.  Great for butterflies too.)

The piece is about 7" tall and maybe 10" long (I'm not in the studio at the moment to measure).
(Buddha Getting Out of Dodge, copyright Diane Lou 2010.  All Rights Reserved.)


Teri said...

I adore this creation!

Diane Lou said...

Thanks so much, Teri! I'm so glad you like it.

Kelly Lish said...

Hi Diane, I have an award for you on my blog. Happy New Year!

Diane Lou said...

Kelly, glad to connect and thank you!
I just looked at your blog and see you listed my friend Jennifer Campbell's blog too....and see that you are right here in the NW too. Happy new year to you too! After a horrid year last year, this feels like it is going to be a good one. I think there is a lot of optimism going around. Thank goodness!
Hopefully we'll meet somewhere. Do you go to Art & Soul? I usually teach there.

Leslie Brier, Brier Design Studio said...

We are definitely kindred spirits! I've been reading your blog for some time. I love this piece! If you get a chance, check out my blog post from May 31, 2009. The pieces are so different, but I think they evoke the same kind of feeling. I am also in the middle of a huge studio cleaning. I took "before" photos, but I don't think I'll be brave enough to post them. Any chance you'll get to Art and Soul Hampton? (Or at least somewhere on the east coast?) I'd love to take a class! (My blog is

Diane Lou said...

I so agree! Your piece is wonderful too. Love it! I even used one of those bait boxes in a piece too. Your description of how you work sounds so much like me.
I'd love to see your studio photos (just to see if it was as bad as mine was, and also to see what cool "stuff" you have. :)
I've made it to the east coast the past couple years, but not to A&S to teach there. I do have several very dear friends in the east though, so it might be worth making the trip sometime. I'd love to meet you!