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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.

Friday, July 23, 2010


One otherwise-boring day at the Goodwill bins, I found a defunct EXIT sign. Had to have it, of course. Doesn't everyone need an exit once in a while?

Grandson Jake disassembled it for me (one of his favorite things to do) so I was left with a metal cutout of the word. Behind that (even though it isn't highly visible from this small photo) I put a wide photo of my maternal great grandmother's family...her, her husband and her 16 or so children...on the Kansas plains. I'm sure there must have been days when she wanted to exit. Doing all the baking, gardening, sewing, cooking and child rearing while being pregnant every year, well, I think at least some days she would have wanted to tuck her other dress (if she had one) inside a bedsheet, grab a loaf of bread and hit the road. There must have been many days she asked herself, "Today?" So the musical instrument part with the question-mark shape (thank you, Jennifer) was a perfect addition to the right side. And the box the piece is created in actually has a handle on top like a suitcase (and I just now realized the amusing connection my muse gave me there since I chose the box randomly when I started the piece and had no idea it would have any connection to the piece at the end).

Interestingly, none of this story was my idea, and it was only after the piece was finished (now) that I realized how my subconscious had created the story. It makes me smile....
(Exit, copyright by Diane Lou 2010)

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