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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, September 17, 2010

Fall preparations....

While for us, this time of year means making sure we are prepared for winter with wood for the stove, gasoline for the generator, and some extra food on hand, for the pack rats who share our forest, it means finding a place to settle in for the winter.  One quickly seized the opportunity by settling into our wood elevator that takes wood from the garage to the upstairs deck beside the living room.

I love nests of all kinds and am entranced by pack rats' collections and their adorable appearance (but am repelled by their smell).  The bulk of this nest was made from twine which had obviously been nibbled from a large spool in the garage.  Each piece was approximately 6" long and had been carried up the elevator shaft, probably one by one, then shredded for extra softness.  Further enhancements were twigs, moss and lichens.

All of this happened in a very short time, as one day I went to get wood to bring into the house and was startled to be face-to-face with a pack rat, cozy in her nest and obviously none too eager to abandon her new beautifully crafted home.

When my daughters were young, my former husband and I lived in the backwoods of MT with no power, no running water, phone or anything else.  When my daughters tired of the large dollhouse their dad had built for them,  we put it in the woodshed for the winter with the plastic furniture inside in a box.  When spring came and the woodshed emptied, there was a large packrat nest in one corner filled with plastic dollhouse furniture. They had couches, beds, sinks and toilets...all of it.  It is a memory that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

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