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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.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Number 4 continued...

Here you see what started to come together yesterday.  Sorry for the flash glare on the transparency film.

What was added was at the bottom was the wooden block with wires around it (thanks, Deb), some moss-covered branches, a tiny red feather, the transparency (with the Chinese writing still showing through, which you can't see on this photo),  some bamboo edging the transparency (also from Marlene), and a tall bottle holding moss and eggs fastened to the side tied with tea-dyed cheesecloth.

Many items are fastened down with Golden gel medium, as well as screws, L brackets, wire and more permanent methods of attachment.  At one of my first shows, I found people were fascinated enough to want to touch and pull on things and realized that the objects needed to be fastened down very securely.  Also when shipping works for shows, strong attachments are essential to keep the piece intact while it is being bounced from one side of the country to another.  So I continue to rely on glues as little as possible, and when I do use them, they are gel medium, The Ultimate, or construction-grade adhesives from the hardware store.  For paper to paper, I often use Yes! glue.

The piece has a couple little changes since the photo.  In taking apart a decorative metal piece yesterday, I acquired a lovely piece that now dangles from the bottom, making it all seem more grand somehow.  Friend Jennifer (that's 4 friends' contributions to this piece) recently gave me a bag full of baby crabs that had been encased in a dome of clear resin.  One of those now sits on top of the wooden piece at the bottom from Deb.  It's complete.  Time to move on to another piece.  Off to the studio...

(Number 4, copyright 2010 by Diane Lou.)

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