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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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Anagama...25 years of fire

As we move closer to the 25th anniversary firing of the anagama, the days get fuller and fuller! To back up a bit, in case you haven't read all the old posts, 25 years ago Nils decided to have a replica of an 8th century Korean anagama kiln built on the property. Designed by Katsuyuki Sakasume, the kiln is a wood-fired hill-climbing kiln which uses 6 cords of wood for a firing, with 24-hour-a-day stoking for 3-4 days. It can hold 300-500 pots, and requires a week to cool.

The last weekend of February we'll be loading this special commemorative firing, and the following Wednesday night will start the warming fire which will build up to the ultimate temperature of 2400 degrees by some time Saturday.

The kiln has had over 100 firings during the past 25 years, and because it was Nils's vision which created this place of art and community, I am commemorating it by putting together a book about the history, the building, the people, and the events that have marked this 25 year period. Participants have contributed their photos and their stories which will be included in the book (created on Babies have been born and grown up during this time, coming to firings year after year, and some of their stories will be included too.

On the practical side, there have been repairs to the smaller wood-fired kiln on the property (which will be fired at the same time), lots of cleaning in the sleeping cabins, supply lists written and checked off. All in all, it is a long process. And I'm still trying to get some pots together to put in it! Nils has a nice stash of about 30, while it seems everything I have made has cracked in drying. Very frustrating.

We're hoping the mild, spring-like weather holds for the loading and firing as we have done both in snow, wind, rain and sleet, and we much prefer sun and mild temps.

Crocus are in full, full bloom, and the daffodils are opening!


Amy Burnham said...

Oh my gosh!! I cannot wait! I am looking forward to seeing you very soon :)

Diane Lou said...

I know...It's all quite exciting to think that 25 years have passed. Can't wait to see you either!