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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, January 28, 2010

Curious details...

Just back from a full day at the coast helping my daughter, but thought I'd at least post a couple detail pictures of the Queen's Cabinet of Curiosities, as promised (in case you were waiting breathlessly :).

Still hard to see, I see, but inside the black box with the glass door on it (if you look very closely), there is a mummified mouse, a true rarity in our damp climate. Look under the rusted butterfly wing to TRY to see him. All his skin remains completely intacted. In retrospect, it would have been fun to have wrapped him in some tea-dyed linen so he looked more like a mummy.

I really wish you could see this in person as there is so much that can't be relayed with these small pictures...all the bits of letters glued inside the tiny shelves, the headless angel with a dragon's tail, the woman looking out through the brass stencil apostrophe, the crackled eggs, the lead type spelling out "Curiouser and Curiouser" and melted candles. You get the idea though. It was definitely a fun piece to create.

If you are in this area, the opening of the Wild Woman show is Saturday night at River Gallery (see address above listed under Shows) 7-10 p.m.

(Details of Queen's Cabinet of Curiosities, copyright Diane Lou 2009)

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