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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, August 20, 2010

Eyes and other parts...

The piece pictured above is one I did a year or so ago titled Stargazer. One day at the Goodwill bins, Nils found a very, very old flashlight for me. Coming home, I paired it with a block of wood (from the bins) and a very old bunson burner from Nils's stash. Inside the lens area is a transparency of a woman looking out. It was one of those 15 minute pieces that I love for its simplicity. Often working quickly, without too much thought, garners the best results.

Today after yoga we saw an estate sale sign which we followed up. The garage was packed with tools, dozens of duck decoys (new), 1000's of Hot Wheels, and not one thing that caught my eye, till we headed into the back room. There we discovered the owner had been a taxidermist and there were all the furs and hooves that were part of his trade. I vacillate between being captivated and repelled by these pieces, but I love skulls and bones so.... What's the difference? I guess the fur and all seem closer to what these animals once were. Then, just as we were leaving, I spotted one of those little metal cases that often house screws and nuts and bolts of various sizes in individual drawers. But when I got closer, I saw the drawers were labeled bird, elk, raccoon, caribou, wolverine, etc. And inside the drawers were the magnificent glass eyes that seem to give stuffed animals a spark of life. The eyes were just spectacular, and I immediately knew they were the find of the day. $80 for the box seemed steep until I came home, counted the eyes, then looked on the internet at prices for them and found I had about $500 worth of amazing eyes to use in my art. Can't wait to see where they lead me....

(Stargazer copyright by Diane Lou 2008)

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