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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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back in the studio at last...

With Art and Soul behind us, other workshops done, and a few days to clean up and put away, I look forward to an afternoon in the studio. Thanks to all my adventuresome students!

Fall here has been amazing, with mild weather still continuing, the color spectacular, and many of the trees still in full leaf!  The coming week continues with showers and highs in the 50's and lows in the mid 40's, which gives the fall garden longer to grow and the tomatoes more time to ripen.  Despite garden failures this year in some other areas, it has been a great year for tomatoes.

After time away from the studio, which the ever-so-short-seeming month of October has required, I find myself filled with a certain anxiety that tells me I need to get back to creating.

At times like this, my process involves going back and digging through my collection of "stuff" and pulling out the things that appeal to me.  These will probably be the starting point for new pieces.  I also look through boxes and boards that will serve as backgrounds and pull out the ones that call out to me.

The first step is always to determine the orientation of the background (vertical or horizontal) without having any idea what kind of piece I am going to do, and to put screw eyes and a hanging wire on the back.  Having also freed up some wall space by this time, I hang the empty boxes on my working wall and begin placing the pieces I selected into each one just following my gut about what goes where.  Of course some things will not be used.

Normally I work on 3-7 pieces at one time, bouncing between them on any given day.  As soon as I can't figure out the next step on a piece, I move to another allowing my subconscious to work on the previous piece.  During this whole process, I have no idea where any of them are going.  The "stuff" seems to create its own connections, and it is my job to simply listen.

Sometimes I'll just look down or on my desk, and a piece will literally jump out at me as the perfect piece for an assemblage I am working on.  Often two ideas sitting side by side will suggest a combination that should be used.

Starting with a theme means sudden death.  The piece will be contrived and dull, at least in my eyes, and will possess none of the mystery and surprise that I love to feel when I look at this type of work.

(Room #5 by Diane Lou,  8"x4"x1")

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