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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, December 24, 2010

Winter solstice...

A couple days ago the shortest day passed by...the "watershed of the year", as Vita Sackville-West called it.  Now we can look forward to the gradually lengthening days as winter officially arrives.  It's a long, slow process, this getting through dark, damp and dreary days, but here in Oregon, the signs of spring are already evident.

Daffodil shoots are already a couple inches high, and instead of dying down completely the perennial flowers have thick rosettes of new leaves at ground level as if they are eager to head towards next summer's prolific bloom.  The filbert/hazelnut trees are covered with a thick dusting of catkins promising a more abundant crop next year.  Camillias are in full bloom at elevations lower than we are.

Like these lengthening days (today will be 11 seconds longer), life sometimes has to be taken in baby steps too, instead of those giant leaps we often choose to take.  Change brought on by challenge is in the end a positive...but the getting to the other side can take every ounce of effort.  This year was one of loss (of my son-in-law) balanced by gain (new granddaughter Geneva, lots of new art, and deepening relationships with loved ones).

Today I'll be back in the studio for the first time in a week, looking through some newly acquired items from the bin trip yesterday, temporarily packing away some things that have sat for too long, and attempting to free up some wall space so I have a place to work.  In a few days, grandson Jake will be here again and treehouse work (siding) will continue.

I hope your holiday finds you in a place of peace and comfort with those you love!
(Untitled piece, copyright Diane Lou.  Just added the "cage" part in the past week.)

Friday, December 17, 2010


Last summer when my sister and I sweated our way through about 100 garage sales in Oregon City (in unusual 100+ degree heat), we found a car full of goodies.   But as the day wore on and the heat had taken its toll on us as well as on those selling, we decided to head home....then saw one last sign that we decided to follow up on.

The sellers were packing up and giving up so had a huge number of free things, some of which went home with us.  They also had this old  shadow box made from an old wood-framed window that I gladly paid the $10 for.  With its perfectly peeling old paint, the nice division of space, and a good depth,  I knew it would be the start to a fun project.
Here's a detail of the piece.  All the interior spaces are lined with black and white photos of European architecture (enlargements from vintage postcards) which create a real sense of depth and perspective. The top addition was part of a broken picture frame from the bins (like most everything else inside the boxes).  Upper left there is a small nest, a gift from Kim.  The wooden window below it has a transparency of a nude woman in it.  The Glamour Shots plastic holder on the upper right houses vintage photos instead of Glamour Shots, and the bottom holds a sparkly little girl's shoe, an evocative addition to the piece (and a gift from friend Jennifer).

I just emailed a picture of this as a submission to the Wild Women show.  Fingers crossed!
(Reveries, copyright Diane Lou 2010.  28x25x5)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Stuff...

First of all, thanks to assemblage artist Terry Flowers for finding this amazing particularly appropriate for those of us who see the potential in every bit of rusty metal on the street, every bone and stick and stone by the wayside, every broken toy or doll, every bit of fabric or, oh my, old paper with the written words of someone now long gone.  Every bit of eggshell or nest, every gear, every old book or box, every clock piece or number.  But no, we can't take any of it with us, so we have to create, create, create while we have the chance!  Enjoy your gift!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

$10 off Transfers and Transparencies Book!

Order your copy of Transfers and Transparencies and get $10 off!  You can order in paperback, image wrap or hard cover with dust jacket.  Just type in the coupon code CHEER when you get to that point in the order blank.  Happy Holidays!